New Methods for Language Learning Developed at the University of Turku
Researchers from the Faculty of Humanities are developing methods for facilitating language learning and cultural education through art. In addition, the Centre for Language and Communication Studies is developing a mobile app for supporting international students in Finnish language learning.
The School of Languages and Translation Studies of the University of Turku will organise Finnish language and culture education for immigrants in collaboration with the City of Turku.
– People who will participate in the language instruction are adult immigrants who are not subject to mandatory integration measures or are obligated by the Act on the Integration of Immigrants but belong to a special group. From the point of view of language education, these kinds of special groups are full-time mothers, elderly learners, and well educated immigrants who know Finnish poorly, specifies University Lecturer Maarit Mutta from the Department of French.
The education starts in October and it is part of the Language and Literacy Learning through Art (LALI) project that develops learning methods and applications for enabling people to learn local language and culture through art.
– Learning languages and culture through art is a new angle into language instruction. The goal of the project is that when it ends at the spring of 2020 there is an open, versatile educational package online in four different languages: English, French, German and Finnish, says Mutta who coordinates the project in Finland.
The project is funded by the Erasmus+ programme and, in addition to the University of Turku, it encompasses experts from France, Austria and Hungary. The researchers at Turku focus on theoretical topics involving language learning and instruction, draft a manual for the education, and develop teaching methods together with the French and Austrian partners. The University of Sopron in Hungary is responsible for creating the mobile app that will be used in language learning.
Finnish Language Passport App Offers Concrete Tips for Using Finnish
In addition to the LALI project, the University is developing a mobile version of the Finnish Language Passport leaflet that aimed to encourage international student to use more Finnish also outside the classroom. The Finnish Language Passport was carried out last autumn as a collaboration between the Student Union and Finnish Language Teacher Jenni Laine from the Centre for Language and Communication Studies.
– International students are eager to learn Finnish, but using the language in everyday situations can be tricky as the other person often changes the language into English. If the students do not have opportunities to use Finnish, their language skills will not improve. Therefore, if needed, it is important that native Finnish speakers use plain language when the the other person wishes to speak Finnish, says Laine.
The purpose of the the Finnish Language Passport is to provide concrete help to international students in using Finnish in everyday transactions where tourist guide books and Google translator cannot help.
– I collected feedback from the international students about the pilot we carried out last autumn and, based on it, using the passport built self-confidence and encouraged them to speak Finnish more often, even though speaking the language felt a little frightening at first. When a language learner has a positive experience in using Finnish, they get more out of the experience than just taking care of an everyday task, says Laine.
The mobile app for the Finnish Language Passport will be available next autumn when new international students arrive to Turku.
Text: Heikki Kettunen, Maria Vasenkari
Translation: Mari Ratia