“I’m your best friend”: Peer interaction and friendship in a multilingual preschool

Theobald, Maryanne Agnes, Bateman, Amanda, Busch, Gillian Roslyn, Laraghy, Megan, & Danby, Susan J. (2017) “I’m your best friend”: Peer interaction and friendship in a multilingual preschool. In Theobald, Maryanne Agnes (Ed.) Friendship and Peer Culture in Multilingual Settings. Emerald Group Publishing Inc, London, pp. 171-196.

[img] Accepted Version (PDF 366kB)
Administrators only

View at publisher



  • This chapter investigates children’s play and social interactions in a multilingual preschool context where the lingua franca (common language) is English. This investigation follows the experiences of one child for whom English is a second language (L2). The analytic focus explores how the L2 learner gains access and participation in play activities in relation to the peer culture of the group.


  • Drawing on ethnomethodology and conversation analysis approaches, this paper offers turn-by-turn analysis to show how the children’s interactions unfold, and identifies children’s interactional approaches as they enter play and make friends. Particular attention is focused on how one of the L2 speakers manages his attempts at entry into the others’ games in the building blocks area of the classroom.


  • The close detailed analysis of one extended episode highlighted the co-produced nature of interaction. The findings identify a repertoire of four resources used by one of the L2 children within the peer group, to access play activities in the building space:

    • 1) linguistic resources of requests, such as ‘Can I play?’ ‘Are you building?’;

    • 2) ‘tailing’ others closely;

    • 3) references to the moral obligations of being a best friend, and;

    • 4) using objects as resources for entry.

  • While the analytic focus is on one child’s strategies, analysis considers this child’s individual actions in relation to his peers. What is made apparent is that uptake and participation in peer interaction is dependent on the social agenda and the local aspects of peer culture.

Value of chapter

  • Attention to how children employ strategies to play and the local conditions of peer culture can assist educators to support children’s attempts for participation and friendship in multilingual early years settings.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 97911
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional Information: Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Volume 21
Additional URLs:
Keywords: friendship, peer culture, children, talk-in-interaction, conversation analysis, ethnomethodology, multilinugal, english as an additional language (EAL), Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD), Play, participation, preschool
ISBN: 9781786353962
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Children & Youth Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood & Inclusive Education
  • QUT/office of education research seedfunding
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 Emerald Group Publishing Inc
Deposited On: 03 Aug 2016 22:53
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2017 03:40

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page