Documentation of children’s language development: A critical analysis and discussion of the conceptualization of language in widespread language assessments

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This chapter investigates how documentation of children’s language development is being used as political argument for interventions towards certain target groups that are constructed through the documentation. However, the understanding of language development within widespread language assessments is problematic in many ways. The main part of this chapter will consist of a critical discussion of the conceptualisation of language that is central for the construction of normal or deviant language development. The empirical foundation for the analysis is two documents from a comprehensive Danish research project, which draws on a conceptualisation of language that is widespread within the field of ECEC. A policy ethnography perspective informs the chapter, highlighting and discussing key aspects of the project’s understanding of children’s language and language development, including the project’s identification of linguistic problems and necessary interventions. It is concluded that the project’s conceptualization of language draws on a particular reading-oriented scientific paradigm, which limits language to specific measurable linguistic elements such as vocabulary, and that the documents construct certain groups as being ‘behind’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDocumentation in Institutional Contexts of Early Childhood : Normalisation, Participation and Professionalism
EditorsMaarit Alasuutari, Helga Kelle, Helen Knauf
Number of pages16
PublisherSpringer VS
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9783658281922
ISBN (Electronic)9783658281939
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Language assessment
  • Critique
  • Policy Ethnography
  • Conceptualisations of Language
  • Language Development
  • Ethnic Groups

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