You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘School’ tag.
An survey by the opinion poll company Taloustutkimus has shown that around half of Finnish people are in favour of retaining compulsory Swedish language instruction in Finnish-language schools in Finland. The opinion poll, carried out for the Finnish-language evening tabloid newspaper Iltalehti, showed that only 12 per cent of respondents wanted to retain Swedish instruction in its current form. 40% supported keeping Swedish teaching if one allowed certain municipalities to have an exemption. 30% of those asked were prepared to see Swedish teaching become optional in the long term, whilst 20% were clearly opposed to obligatory Swedish teaching in Finnish-language schools.
Interestingly, support for Swedish teaching was strongest amongst the young. Those in the 15-24 age group were most positive towards Swedish; only one in ten were for the abolition of Swedish teaching. Greatest opposition was amongst those over 50 years old. This is important to note. Those over 50 most likely attended school before the reforms in Finland that turned our educational system into a comprehensive one. Before these reforms, Swedish was not compulsory and only the elite generally learnt the other national language at school. It thus seems that those who have actually been through compulsory Swedish teaching are less negatively disposed to it. This is surely positive news.
Finally, a genuinely positive utterance from a member of the government regarding Swedish. Education minister Henna Virkkunen has suggested that the teaching of Swedish is started earlier in Finnish-speaking schools.
At the present time, most Finnish-speaking schools begin teaching Swedish in the seventh year of school, when pupils are already 13/14 years old. Virkkunen, in a newspaper interview with Keskisuomalainen, suggests that schools introduce the teaching of Swedish in the fifth year of school.
The Association of Teachers of Swedish has previously suggested that Finnish-speaking pupils start Swedish in year five and Virkkunen has now agreed that this is a sensible idea, accepting that languages are easiest learnt at younger ages. This is undoubtably true. The fifth year of school, whilst an improvement from today’s situation, is probably still later than ideal.
Swedish-speaking schools start teaching the Finnish language in the third year of school at the latest. Many start earlier than this.
Finland’s school curriculum mandates that all pupils must be taught “the other domestic language”, as the subject is officially known in schools, i.e. Swedish in Finnish-speaking schools, Finnish in Swedish-speaking schools.
Virkkunen is a member of the National Coalition (Kokoomus) party and her comments, coming in a Finnish-language newspaper and thus directed at a Finnish-speaking audience, should be welcomed warmly. Let’s hope she doesn’t restrict this matter to just words and enacts a curriculum reform at the earliest available opportunity.
The Gymnasium Student’s Association of Finland (SLL) wants an increase in the number of Finnish-speaking students taking Swedish as part of their school-leaving exam. In order to do this, the association is suggesting that the value of the Swedish test is raised to a similar prestige as the civil service language test, or at least for the written part.
The association also suggests that the student exam test in Swedish receives a speaking part.
According to the association, the problem of fewer Finnish-speaking students taking Swedish in their student exam should be solved by measures increasing the motivation to learn languages.
Finland has two official languages; Finnish and Swedish. It is compulsory for all school students to study the other domestic language; Finnish in Swedish-speaking schools, Swedish for the Finnish-speakers. However, since 2005 it has been possible not to chose to take the other domestic language as part of the end of high school examination.
This year, around 13 600 Finnish speaking students have decided they will take Swedish as part of their school graduation exam. That’s a massive decline of nearly 15 % compared with last year. Since the 2005 reform, around a third of all Finnish-speaking school graduation exam takers have chosen not to take Swedish.
This is a worrying trend. In order to be able to offer services to Swedish speakers, the government and authorities need speakers of Swedish. It may be easy to choose not to take it at the time; but what happens later in life when you decide you want to work for the state administration, the police etc?
There are reports that show that the quality of Swedish teaching in many Finnish speaking schools is poor and uninspiring. Swedish needs to be made more interesting and attractive to Finnish speaking students – from an early age – so that the enjoy learning the language. Right now, many may well choose not to take it because of the poor teaching and thought that it might be easier for them to get a better grade in something else. The government needs to take measures to give more funding to Swedish as a school subject and improve the teaching quality. Perhaps a more intensive programme of cooperation could be opened up between Finnish and Swedish speaking schools in this country – and perhaps also Sweden.