March 2, 2017
Finnish people’s command of English is excellent. The other official language should flow swimmingly, too, thanks to mandatory Swedish studies. It is possible to absorb several languages during the years spent in school. Can we, therefore, say that our small nation has exceptionally good language skills?
It is spring time and so many families, such as ours, ponder their pupils’ language choices. Our 9-year-old daughter already clearly understands her favourite YouTuber’s British accent and uses English in daily situations so well that postponing the learning of another foreign language is not necessary. However, the final language choice remains to be made.
For decades already, attempts have been made to diversify Finnish people’s language skills. Once again, the new curriculum comes with turbulence in language instruction. The A1 language, which in many schools is English, is currently taught as of the second grade of elementary school. Pupils start learning a second advanced language curriculum, the optional A2, on the 4th grade. Almost everyone starts learning Swedish on the 6th grade. The selection expands on the 8th grade. Most commonly German, French, Spanish or Russian is selected as the B2 language. Upper secondary school and other continuing education institutes offer their own language courses.
According to the most recent statistics, as many as 99 percent of students in upper secondary schools have studied the advanced English curriculum and half of them have studied only two languages. For example, the number of students learning German is fewer than a thousand. As it is no longer mandatory to study languages, the number of language students has been decreasing. Additionally, teaching methods and the focus on grammar may diminish many students’ interest in learning foreign languages. Command of grammar is of no use if you do not dare to open your mouth in a language other than your own.
My own memories of learning languages in elementary school are harsh. I remember cramming chapters of the text book and learning grammar rules by heart. I did not practise pronouncing English until my first year in university and long conversations in foreign languages tended to occur in my free time. I am still better at written than oral communication and I do not feel like my years in school sufficiently prepared me for expressing myself in foreign languages. Thankfully, the children and youth of today have better foundation.
In how many schools is it possible to choose to study Mandarin Chinese or Dutch? In the light of Finland’s export markets, there should be more to choose from. Currently, Finland’s major exporting countries are Germany, Sweden, the United States, the Netherlands and China (Finnish Customs’ Statistical Service 2016/1–6).
According to Forbes, an American business magazine, the languages of the future are French, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. The status of English as a world language will deteriorate, while French will push through particularly due to the population growth in Africa.
My daughter would like to choose French as her A2 language. Thanks to an inspiring teacher, she became interested in French at the language club offered by Lingo last autumn. My daughter has maintained her budding language skills with the help of the Duolingo app. Most of her classmates will most likely choose Swedish. We will see what will happen.
Do you remember when you were preparing to present your company or your job for the first time in a foreign language? Do you feel like your presentation skills do not impress listeners just yet? Would you like to be a better speaker?
Whatever your profession or line of business, whatever your position or your field of expertise – both at work and in your private life, you are highly likely to give several kinds of presentations.
Marleen Laschet, who trains TEDx speakers in Norway, will lead us through the course in memorable presentation skills.
Be inspired by Marleen’s TEDx speech, Speak to the heart.
Already today, you can make a tentative reservation for our course organised in May on week 19. As we are launching the course for the first time in Finland, you get a 60 % discount for Day 1.
Hurry and reserve your seat by clicking this link! There is space for the six fastest registrants.
Miia is in charge of Lingo’s business and steering it towards international waters.
CEO, translator, most senior quality controller