Dynamics in Interaction in Bilingual Team Teaching: Examples from a Finnish Preschool Classroom

  • Karita Mård-MiettinenEmail author
  • Åsa Palviainen
  • Anu Palojärvi
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 25)


The current study aims to explore team teaching as it is manifested in bilingual interactional patterns in a preschool classroom in Finland. The data was collected in a preschool classroom where a bilingual pedagogy in Finnish (majority language) and Swedish (minority language) was implemented with monolingual Finnish-speaking children. Video recordings were made while two teachers with different predefined language roles were team teaching a class of 20 children during two circle times. A two-level analytic model was developed: on the macro level activity types, participant roles (type of leadership) and language allocation (the teachers’ relative use of Finnish and Swedish) were identified, and on the micro level teacher interaction was analysed in detail in terms of turn-taking patterns and language use. The findings are analysed in relation to the predefined roles of the two teachers – one as a Finnish speaker and the other as a bilingual Swedish/Finnish speaker. The results show extensive dynamics in how the predefined participant and language roles were put into practice: all three types of leadership (single, alternated and co-leadership) were identified in the data and both the teachers communicated both monolingually and bilingually in the various circle time activities. When communicating bilingually, the teachers applied strategies such as code-switching, avoidance of translation and the use of scaffolding to support understanding. Separation strategies (separation by person, topic or purpose) also appeared in the data, however. The two teachers’ cooperation was smooth and they supported and assisted each other in various ways both academically and linguistically.


  1. Act on Children’s Day Care 239/1973. Finlex. [online]
  2. Arkoudis, S., & Creese, A. (2006). Introduction. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(4), 411–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bahamonde, C., & Friend, M. (1999). Teaching English language learners: A proposal for effective service delivery through collaboration and co-teaching. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 10(1), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barron-Hauwaert, S. (2004). Language strategies for bilingual families: The one-parent-one-language approach. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  5. Björklund, S., & Mård-Miettinen, K. (2011). Integrating multiple languages in immersion – Swedish immersion in Finland. In D. J. Tedick, D. Christian, & T. W. Fortune (Eds.), Immersion education: Practices, policies, possibilities (pp. 13–35). Bristol: Multilingual Matters, Ltd..Google Scholar
  6. Bronson, C., & Dentith, A. (2014). Partner teaching: A promising model. Education, 134(4), 506–520.Google Scholar
  7. Carless, D. (2006). Good practices in team teaching in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. System, 34, 341–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cook, L., & Friend, M. (1995). Co-teaching: Guidelines for creating effective practices. Focus on Exceptional Children, 28(3), 1–16.Google Scholar
  9. Creese, A. (2006). Supporting talk? Partnership teachers in classroom interaction. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(4), 434–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dafouz, E., & Hibler, A. (2013). ‘Zip your lips’ and ‘keep quiet’: Main teachers’ and language assistants’ classroom discourse in CLIL settings. Modern Language Journal, 97(3), 655–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davison, C. (2006). Collaboration between ESL and content teachers: How do we know when we are doing it right? International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(4), 454–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dillon, A., Salazar, D., & Otaibi, R. (2015). Leading learning to support bilingual co-teaching at kindergarten level in the UAE. Middle Eastern & African Journal of Educational Research, 16, 21–33.Google Scholar
  13. Emilson, A. (2007). Young children’s influence in preschool. International Journal of Early Childhood, 39(1), 11–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friend, M. (2008). Co-teaching: A simple solution that isn’t that simple after all. Journal of Curriculum and Instruction, 2(2), 9–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Friend, M., Cook, L., Hurley-Chamberlain, D. A., & Shamberger, C. (2010). Co-teaching: An illustration of the complexity of collaboration in special education. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 20(1), 9–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. García, O. (2009). Bilingual education in the 21st century. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  17. García, O., & Wei., L. (2014). Translanguaging. Language, bilingualism and education. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  18. Gardner, S. (2006). Centre-stage in the instructional register: Partnership talk in primary EAL. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(4), 476–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gort, M., & Pontier, R. (2013). Exploring bilingual pedagogies in dual language preschool classrooms. Language and Education, 27(3), 223–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heller, M. (1999). Linguistic minorities and modernity: A sociolinguistic ethnography. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  21. Hult, F. M., & Pietikäinen, S. (2014). Shaping discourses of multilingualism through a language ideological debate: The case of Swedish in Finland. Journal of Language and Politics, 13(1), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kalliala, M., & Tahkokallio, L. (2003). The adult role in Finnish early childhood education and care. In M. Laevers & M. Kalliala (Eds.), Involvement of children and teacher style: Insights from an international study on experiential education, Studia Pedagogica 35 (pp. 93–110). Leuven: Leuven University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kirves, L., & Sajaniemi, N. (2013). Bullying in early educational settings. In K. Määttä & S. Uusiautti (Eds.), Early child care and education in Finland (pp. 93–110). Abigdon: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  24. Lewis, G., Jones, B., & Baker, C. (2012). Translanguaging: Developing its conceptualisation and contextualisation. Educational Research and Evaluation: An International Journal on Theory and Practice, 18(7), 655–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lindgren, A.-R., Lindgren, K., & Saari, M. (2011). From Swedish to Finnish in the 19th century: A historical case of emancipatory language shift. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 209, 17–34.Google Scholar
  26. Linell, P. (2009). Rethinking language, mind, and world dialogically. Interactional and contextual theories of human sense-making. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  27. Liu, L. (2008). Co-teaching between native and non-native English teachers: An exploration of co-teaching models and strategies in the Chinese primary school context. Reflections on English Language Teaching, 7(2), 103–118.Google Scholar
  28. Maloney, C. (2000). The role of ritual in preschool settings. Early Childhood Education Journal, 27(3), 143–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mehistö, P., Marsh, D., & Frigols, M. J. (2008). Uncovering CLIL: Content and language integrated learning in bilingual and multilingual education. Oxford: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  30. NCCPE. (2010). National core curriculum for pre-primary education. Helsinki: Finnish National Board of Education.Google Scholar
  31. Nikula, T., & Marsh, D. (1997). Vieraskielisen opetuksen tavoitteet ja toteuttaminen. Helsinki: Opetushallitus.Google Scholar
  32. Official statistics of Finland (OSF). (2015). Population structure [e-publication]. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 10.11.2016]. Available:
  33. Ojala, M., & Talts, L. (2007). Preschool achievements in Finland and Estonia: Cross-cultural comparison between the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 51(2), 205–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Palviainen, Å., & Boyd, S. (2013). Unity in discourse, diversity in practice. The one-person one-language policy in bilingual families. In M. Schwatz & A. Verschik (Eds.), Successful Family Language Policy: Parents, Children and Educators in interaction (pp. 223–248). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Palviainen, Å., & Mård-Miettinen, M. (2015). Creating a bilingual pre-school classroom: The multilayered discourses of a bilingual teacher. Language and Education, 29(5), 381–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Palviainen, Å., Protassova, E., Mård-Miettinen, K., & Schwartz, M. (2016). Two languages in the air: A cross-cultural comparison of preschool teachers’ reflections on their flexible bilingual practices. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 19(6), 614–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Park, J.-E. (2014). English co-teaching and teacher collaboration: A micro-interactional perspective. System, 44, 34–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Perry, B., & Stenwart, T. (2005). Insights into effective partnership in interdisciplinary team teaching. System, 33, 563–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pontier, R., & Gort, M. (2016). Coordinated Translanguaging pedagogy as distributed cognition: A case study of two dual language bilingual education preschool Coteachers’ Languaging practices during shared book readings. International Multilingual Research Journal, 10(2), 89–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rubinstein Reich, L. (1993). Circle time in pre-school. Reprints and Miniprints from Department of Educational and Psychological Research. No. 785. Lund University.Google Scholar
  41. Sacks, H., Schegloff, E., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language: Journal of the Linguistic Society of America, 50(4), 696–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sahlström, F. (1999). Up the hill backwards. On interactional constraints and affordances for equity-constitution in the classrooms of the Swedish comprehensive school, Uppsala studies in education no 85. Uppsala: University of Uppsala.Google Scholar
  43. Sandholz, J. (2000). Interdisciplinary team teaching as a form of professional development. Teacher Education Quarterly, 27(3), 39–54.Google Scholar
  44. Schwartz, M., & Asli, A. (2014). Bilingual teachers’ language strategies: The case of Arabic–Hebrew kindergarten in Israel. Teaching and Teacher Education, 38, 22–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sileo, J. M. (2011). Co-teaching: Getting to know your partner. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43(5), 32–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Venninen, T., Leinonen, J., Lipponen, L., & Ojala, M. (2014). Supporting children’s participation in Finnish child care centers. Early Childhood Education Journal, 42, 211–218. Scholar
  47. Zaghalawan, H. Y., & Ostrosky, M. M. (2011). Circle time: An exploratory study of activities and challenging behavior in head start classrooms. Early Childhood Education Journal, 38, 439–448. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karita Mård-Miettinen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Åsa Palviainen
    • 1
  • Anu Palojärvi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Language and Communication StudiesUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

Personalised recommendations