Foreign language teaching in basic and secondary education in Finland

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1 Foreign language teaching in basic and secondary education in Finland Sari Pöyhönen Centre for Applied Language Studies (CALS) University of Jyväskylä, Finland

2 AIMS OF THE PRESENTATION 1) To explore the current situation of language education in Finland 2) To present a national project on language education policies (KIEPO) 3) To describe language education in basic and secondary education and 4) To analyze the tensions between national, local and individual levels of language education policy

3 LANGUAGE SITUATION IN FINLAND Finnish and Swedish are the official languages. Speakers of Finnish 91.7% Speakers of Swedish 5.5% Sami as indigenous people, Romany and people using Finnish Sign Language as linguistic and cultural minorities have a special status in the Constitution Sami ca persons, Romany ca , Users of Finnish Sign Language ca Speakers of other languages (ca. 140 languages), about 3.0% of the population No official statistics about bilingualism or multilingualism in Finland

4 ENGLISH IN FINNISH SOCIETY During 1960s to 1980s: a foreign language Today: an everyday language for many Finns The use of English has increased in several fields of life Lingua franca in business Up to 80% of academic dissertations in English TV-programmes and films are not dubbed but Finnish or Swedish subtitles are provided instead New Media in the lives of (young) people: multilingual reading and writing, online games What counts as language education? The importance of informal learning and communities of practice From segregated skills to functional, situational and dynamic use of language

5 PRESENT SITUATION: POSITIVE SIGNS Increased investments in language education over 50 years Billion hours used in language education Language education is compulsory at every school level Children begin their language education earlier; some in kindergartens and preschool education Language immersion and CLIL have been developed 75% of adults know at least one foreign language, 60% knows two, and 25% three languages International programmes and student exchange have become more popular The significance of language knowledge as part of professional competence is understood 72% of adults say they would need more language education English language skills have developed in a way that English is becoming the second language in working life as well as in free time Languages are very popular in adult education programmes The language reserve has increased in Finland

6 PRESENT SITUATION: NEGATIVE SIGNS Language education at different levels from early education to working life does not form a continuum The teaching of the mother tongue and foreign languages do not properly relate to each other Language knowledge reserve is about to shrink, because the number of languages taught on all levels of education has gone down There is a lack of equality in language education both on the individual and the regional level The positions of teaching Finnish (and Swedish) as second language and teaching immigrants own mother tongue teaching are not yet established The training of language teachers fails to meet the challenges of the future

7 NATIONAL PROJECT ON LANGUAGE EDUCATION POLICIES (KIEPO) December 2005 April 2007 Leadership and coordination (CALS, University of Jyväskylä, Finland) Finance: Ministry of Education & University of Jyväskylä Project group (22 experts) from different fields of education Working groups Theme seminars Hearing of experts Preparing the report and offering suggestions for action to the Ministry of Education

8 THE AIMS OF THE PROJECT examines the present state of language education policies in Finland as well as their basis and goals offers suggestions for developing and revising language education seeks to influence attitudes and views relating to language, knowledge of language, language learning, and multilingualism looks at language from multiple perspectives

9 MAIN QUESTIONS How should language education be organised? How could functional multilingualism and the language reserve of society and individuals be ensured? How can language education be developed from the viewpoints of equality, flexibility, and life-long learning? How should language teaching and assessment be developed? How should teacher training be developed? How should the planning of language education policies and decision making be organised?

10 Life-long language learning path? Informal learning environments work adult education home and acquaintances Mother tongue Other languages communities early education free time basic education pre-school education higher education secondary education Formal learning environments Which languages? How to study? Up to which level of skills? Organised by whom? Financed by whom? Verified in what way?

11 FL IN BASIC EDUCATION (years 7-16) Minimum: 2 compulsory languages Maximum: 2 compulsory + 2 optional languages First foreign language LG1 (Compulsory) Starts usually in grade 3 Two lessons a week in grades 3-6, two lessons in grade 7, three lessons in grades 8-9 In total 608 lessons = 456 hours In 2005, LG1 was studied in grade 1 by 8.6% and in grade 2 by 14.7% of the pupils Second foreign language LG2 (Optional) Starts usually in grade 4 or 5 Two lessons a week In total 456 lessons = 342 hours In 2005, 28% of the pupils chose an optional LG2

12 TARGET LEVELS OF LG1 AND LG2 (grade 9, age 15) Listening Speaking Reading Writing English as LG1 or LG2 B1.1 A2.2 B1.1 A2.2 Other languages A2.2 A2.1 A2.2 A2.1 as LG1 or LG2 The CEFR proficiency level scales have been divided into sub-levels in the national core curricula for basic and secondary education The goals for English are higher than for other languages

13 FL IN BASIC EDUCATION (continues) Third foreign language LG3 (Compulsory) Starts in grade 7 For Finnish-speaking pupils second national language, Swedish, unless already selected as LG1 or LG2. In total 228 lessons = 171 hours Fourth foreign language LG4 (Optional) Starts in grade 8 In total 228 lessons = 171 hours In 2005, 14.1% of the pupils chose LG4 Boys choose optional languages less often than girls. In 2004, 22.9% pupils of French as LG4, 39.5% pupils of German as LG4, and 33.1% pupils of Russian as LG4

14 TARGET LEVELS OF LG3 and LG4 (grade 9, age 15) Listening Speaking Reading Writing Swedish as LG3 A2.1 A1.3 A2.1 A1.3 English as LG3 A2.1 A1.3 A2.1 A1.3 Other languages as LG4 A1.2- A1.3 A1.1- A1.2 A1.2- A1.3 A1.1- A1.2

15 FL IN GENERAL UPPER SECONDARY EDUCATION (years 16-19) LG1 and LG3 are compulsory languages also in general upper secondary schools Optional languages LG2 and LG4 can be continued Possibility to study a new language LG5 The amount of studies depends on the student s plans to include particular language in the Matriculation examination Consists of four tests of which mother tongue is compulsory for all LG1 and LG3 can be included as compulsory tests

16 FL IN GENERAL UPPER SECONDARY EDUCATION (continues) Usually LG1 and LG2 are studied for 6 compulsory courses = 228 lessons Typically students take 8 courses if they want to take the test in Matriculation examination The studies in LG3 (the second national language) consist of 5 compulsory courses and 2 specialisation courses = 190 lessons + 78 lessons The optional languages LG4 and LG5 can both be studied for 8 specialisation courses = 228 lessons The number of test takers in LG4 and LG5 goes down in 2001, 8500 test takers, in 2005, 5000 test takers

17 LANGUAGE CHOICES, FIRST FOREIGN LANGUAGE, 3RD GRADE (%) English Swedish Finnish German French Russian Sami

18 TARGET LEVELS IN THE END OF GENERAL UPPER SECONDARY SCHOOL (age 18) Listening Speaking Reading Writing English as LG1 or LG2 B2.1 B2.1 B2.1 B2.1 Other languages as LG1 or LG2 B1.1-B1.2 B1.1 B1.2 B1.2 Swedish as LG3 B1.2 B1.1 B1.1 B1.1 Other languages as LG4 A2.2 A2.1-A2.2 A2.2-B1.1 A2.1-A2.2 Other languages A2.1-A2.2 A2.1 A2.1-A2.2 A1.3-A2.1

19 CLIL IN FINLAND CLIL instruction at all levels of education Mostly in basic education and in large cities The medium of instruction is usually English Other languages German, French, and Russian Language skills requirement for teachers: C2 in case when pupils receive more than 4 hours of CLIL in a week After the initial enthusiasm in mid-1990s CLIL has suffered a decline, but the quality of teaching has improved No strict national recommendations about implementing CLIL instruction

20 PERSPECTIVES AND TENSIONS BETWEEN DIFFERENT LEVELS INTERNATIONAL United Nations, European Union, Council of Europe etc. NATIONAL Finnish Parliament, Ministry of Education, other ministries, National Board of Education, Examination boards, State provincial offices, The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, Trade unions, Media, Publishing companies LOCAL Municipalities, Educational institutes, NGOs, Work places INDIVIDUAL Teachers, Parents, Pupils, Employers

21 ENSURING THE CONTINUUM The curricula at different levels of education and in different languages will be improved in such a way that they better support each other and form a continuum Language education will already begin during early and preschool education Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and European Language Portfolio will be used when applicable on every level of education and for all languages When moving on from one level of education to another, attention will be paid to one s earlier language education, and the acknowledgement processes of one s previous knowledge will be developed The training of early educators and teachers at different levels of education will be improved in accordance with the principles of continuity and language education

22 PREVENTING THE NARROWING OF LANGUAGE CHOISES Supporting actions of the present language programme from early education to adult education Reducing the group sizes Planning and implementing language strategies Making possible teaching in a foreign language and language immersion in the native languages Regional and local cooperation of schools Developing possibilities for online studying and distant learning Long-term actions Alternatives for the present language programme

23 LANGUAGE EDUCATION IN FUTURE: FROM VISION TO PRACTICE? Long-term planning National coordination Making regional solutions possible Assessment as the cornerstone of continuity in language education Life-long learning Starting language education and teaching at an earlier stage Also an adult can learn languages Language skills profiles Paying attention to different skills and needs The need of language skills in working life and predicting the national language skills reserve Indigenous peoples, linguistic and cultural minorities

24 CONCLUDING QUESTIONS How internationalized can national policymaking be? How are the local concerns taken into account? How is it possible to deal with contradicting views of society, community and individuals (who actually are the society and community)? Volereèpotere.

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