In early 2021, The Finnish Network for Language Education Policies (Kieliverkosto) published the report Language Reserve. Now! which took a comprehensive look into the language reserve in Finland in 2021.
An English summary of the report is now available here.
The current report is a follow-up on the 2017 report Multilingualism as a strength (Pyykkö 2017), in which more than 30 procedural recommendations for developing the national language reserve were suggested. Based on these recommendations, the following research questions were formulated:
- Which of the procedural recommendations issued by Pyykkö in 2017 regarding the language reserve in Finland have been advanced since the report’s release?
- Which recommendations have not been advanced at all or have been only partially advanced?
- What is the state of Finland’s language reserve in 2021?
To create the report, data from various surveys and focus group interviews as well as recent research literature was utilised. Surveys were sent to universities & universities of applied sciences, teachers, rectors, ECEC personnel, and administrative personnel in municipalities as well as the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish National Agency for Education and the Matriculation Examination Board. More than 300 language teachers and close to a hundred early childhood education professionals answered our surveys. Interviews were conducted to fill in any gaps left by the surveys – the interviewees comprised employees of educational administration, a teacher educator, an expert in evaluation, and a leader responsible for education in a municipality.
In a multilingual society, a language-aware approach in education and teaching benefits all, not only multilingual pupils. Moreover, we can say that in a multilingual society, language awareness concerns everyone – it promotes everyone’s possibilities to utilise different linguistic resources. With a language-aware mind-set, we make all languages visible and equal in our society. This is an important goal also from the viewpoint of the national language reserve. The report found that while language awareness as a term has gained wider recognition in the past few years, there is still work to be done if we want all students in Finland to gain the benefits of it.
Language awareness, encouraging language learning, promoting language choices and developing teaching are often something that individual teachers do without external support or extra resources. Long-term strategies for development are needed to get all teachers the continuing education they deserve and to promote language learning at a national level.
The language education boat is slow to steer. Nevertheless, development work is done on many different levels in many different ways: national curriculum work and language education policy decisions, in projects and networks, through continuous education and developing teacher training. When steering the boat, profound knowledge of the field and current research are essential.
Language Reserve. Now! (English summary)
Language Reserve. Now! (Full report in Finnish)
Pyykkö (2017), Multilingualism as a strength. Procedural recommendations for developing Finland’s national language reserve
The Finnish Network for Language Education Policies
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Author: Sanna Riuttanen, project researcher at the Finnish Network for Language Education Policies