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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Multilingual Education in Finland

THE AVAILABILITY of education in a language other than Finnish or Swedish has become increasingly available in Finland, especially so in the capital region. Multilingualism is more of a norm than an exception in schools nowadays, with more than 4,000 students from an immigrant background attending school in Helsinki alone.
In the Helsinki region a number of private and public schools offer an entire education in a foreign language for children from an immigrant background or who are residing in Finland temporarily. These languages include English, German, Spanish, French, Russian, Estonian and Chinese. The schools can also be attended by Finnish children, but usually include a language test to ensure the children’s capability to follow classes.
On top of this, a number of public Finnish-language schools offer basic education in another language for children from an immigrant background. The largest language groups include Russian, Somali, Estonian, Arabic and Vietnamese. The subjects taught include mathematics and environmental science for example, and do not concentrate exclusively on learning the language.
Even more widely offered is the teaching of a foreign language as a mother tongue. This is provided in schools to support and preserve the knowledge of the students’ own language. All students whose mother tongue is one other than Finnish or Swedish are entitled to study their own language throughout their whole schooling. There are currently more than 40 foreign languages being taught as a mother tongue in Finnish schools.
Read more: Multilingual education 

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