Beyond Borders - Digital Tablets as a Resource for Pre-school Children’s Communication in a Minority Language

Petersen, P.
Designs for Learning, 10(1):88–99


In this video ethnographic study, a social semiotic approach has been used to investigate how the use of tablets in kindergarten can support minority language children’s communication in their own language. In this case, Finnish-speaking children in Sweden were studied. The purpose is to investigate how the use of tablets can facilitate opportunities for minority language kindergarten children to participate in activities in which they are allowed to use their native language.  

Research question: “How can a tablet’s affordances (possibilities) facilitate or prevent kindergarten children’s opportunities to participate in minority language activities?”


The results show how kindergarten children use emerging tablet affordances to produce minority-language activities in which their previous knowledge is taken into account. Software such as Skype allows children to communicate in a common language beyond limitations created by the kindergarten’s geographical boundaries. Limitations, such as the lack of software available in minority languages, are discussed in the article. In addition, a proposal is made to expand the understanding of what can be regarded as multilingual activities.


The author refers to the study as being video ethnographic. The sample consisted of three groups of children aged 1.5–5 years old from three different kindergartens in a socioeconomically and culturally diverse area of Sweden. The sample consisted of 15-20 children and three kindergarten teachers. Most of the children spoke both Swedish and Finnish. Everyday activity in which the children communicated and played with tablets was filmed with a handheld video camera, resulting in approximately 15 hours of film being analysed.


Petersen, P. (2018). “Beyond Borders - Digital Tablets as a Resource for Pre-school Children’s Communication in a Minority Language”. Designs for Learning, 10(1):88–99.