Voksnes samtalestøtte i barnehagen.

Gjems, L.
Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift 92 (5) S. 364-375.


The study examines conversational forms in kindergartens, and whether these forms are open and conducive for the linguistic and cognitive development of children. The hypothesis is that the child's linguistic development is influenced by the opportunities the child has via the adult’s initiatives and assistance during the conversation; by the initiatives the child takes and by the response the child receives from the adult(s). The quality of the conversational assistance depends on three factors:
1) initiatives of adults and to which degree they ask open or closed questions; 2) functions of the conversation that depend on the adult's intentions with the conversation (e.g. to regulate the social context or to challenge the child's linguistic and cognitive development); 3) the balance of power and authority in the conversation between child and adult where adults usually have the power to define who is speaking and how much.


The initiative for a conversation was just as often taken by adults as children. The conversation was mostly used to give children a response, an explanation, learning-focused interactions, supportive participation and clarifying questions, and to maintain peace and quiet. The researcher found that adults mostly asked closed questions and the children were to correct or reject what the adult said. Only a few conversations were based on an explorative 'why-question' for the children. As regards conversational power structures, the adult defined the direction of the conversation in five out of ten conversational situations. 137 out of 1,129 statements were questions. The adult asked a few open questions, and the children were encouraged to give yes/no responses as opposed to expressing themselves. The adults used their power to a great extent to define the conversation's content and form. The author concludes that since children learn a language by participating in speech acts, their opportunities for cognitive and linguistic development could be reduced in kindergarten in the worst-case scenario, as many the conversations did not contain the elements that promote language development in children.


The study is an observation study in an ethnographic perspective. In two kindergartens, observations and sound recordings were made of conversations between child carers as well as nursery and childcare assistants, and groups of two to five children aged three to six. The number of observed groups of children is not disclosed


Gjems, L. (2008). Voksnes samtalestøtte i barnehagen: Norsk pedagogisk tidsskrift 92 (5) S. 364-375.

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