International Students Read in Finnish to Seniors as Part of Finland 100 Centenary Celebration
​In the Minä luen sinulle campaign, immigrants read aloud in Finnish to elderly people and the mentally disabled. Students of the Language Centre went to Ruusukortteli assisted living residence in order to participate in the campaign. Ezter Ujvari (left.) and Hoa Nguyen read a Finnish cook book in plain language to Sirkka Katajisto.

​The idea for the reading event originated on the previous Finnish language courses of University Teacher Jenni Laine. At the time, the students told Laine that they would like to improve their Finnish language skills outside the University campus. The Minä luen sinulle campaign week, which was organised by Selkokeskus for the Finland 100 centenary celebration, offered a perfect opportunity.

– The students have been studying Finnish for a couple of years. It is important for them to speak Finnish, but often the other person changes the language into English midway through the conversation. At an event like this, they have the chance to read and talk in Finnish, says Laine.

Ujvari also pointed out the positive aspect of meeting older people, as while she does meet young people all the time, there is no such contact with the elderly. Hoa Nguyen from Vietnam, who read to Katajisto with Ujvari, added another plus: the feeling of happiness when you can do something good for another person.

Ujvari and Nguyen read Katajisto a Finnish cook book in plain language and she could help the two students with difficult words, such as with the "rkl" abbreviation for tablespoon.

– I do not read a great deal myself, but I like to listen to other people read, says Katajisto.

According to Laine, one of the day's purposes was to read books, magazines and news in plain language. In addition to reading, one of goals was to listen and communicate.

– Using plain language could be of help in many situations. It's a pity that many Finns speak quickly and with a difficult vocabulary when talking to immigrants. I encourage the native Finnish speakers to use plain language when communicating with immigrants. The other person does not have to speak perfect Finnish – familiar words, easy sentence structure and a smile gets you far, says Laine.

Some of the residents of Ruusukortteli wanted to challenge the students. Reijo Möttönen gave his own poems for Lauren Cook to read and made sure that she understood their message by asking her questions.

Laine was clearly glad of how well the meeting between the 14 students and the residents of Ruusukortteli went.

– This is a chance for us, the members of the University community, to interact with the citizens of Turku, and gives the teachers an opportunity to offer a safe learning environment for their students, said Laine.

Text: Erja Hyytiäinen
Translation: Mari Ratia

Published date 2/21/2017 9:35 AM ,  Modified date 2/21/2017 9:42 AM

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