University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Since the turn of the century, politicians in the Scandinavian countries have placed great emphasis on early childhood education and care. They have been especially concerned with lifelong learning in the field of language learning, early literacy, and numeracy. Almost all children between the ages of 1 and 6 years attend a preschool, and the quality of the learning environment is of great importance. This article presents a comparative study of student preschool teachers’ conceptions of the knowledge that they claim to have acquired about children’s early literacy throughout their bachelor education in Norway and in Sweden. The aim is to compare responses to a questionnaire administered to the student teachers and to examine the similarities and differences in the content of and goals indicated in the two countries’ national plans for early literacy. This study is based on sociocultural theories and has a multimethod design. First, through a discourse analysis we examined the national plans for preschool teacher education in Norway and Sweden and studied similarities and differences. Second, we sent a questionnaire to all student preschool teachers at all universities and university colleges in Norway and at the University of Gothenburg. The differences between the Norwegian and Swedish education students were most obviously seen in their responses to the questions about how they work with early literacy. The discourse analyses showed that the national education plans for preschool teacher education in the two countries differ in certain instances but share common ground in others.
Keywords: early childhood education, language learning, early literacy, preschool teachers, preschool teacher education, comparative study