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City of Tampere -

Multilingual pupils

A multilingual pupil lives under the influence of several languages. The pupils whose native language or one of their languages is other than Finnish, Swedish or Sámi are multilingual.

Developing multilingualism, supporting identity, co-operation between home and school, and improving the pupil's readiness so that she/ has the best chance of succeeding in studies are central to the teaching of multilingual pupils. The teaching takes into account the linguistic, cultural and educational background of the pupil and the residence time of those who have moved to Finland.

Pupils whose Finnish language skills are not yet sufficient to follow basic education start their schooling in Preparatory instruction groups. After completing the Preparatory education, students will continue to study in the schools of their area.

More information:
Planning coordinator Katja Simonen Tel. 050 550 6704

The Finnish school

Basic education is obligatory for all 7-16 -year-olds in Finland. This means, in practice, that all children are obliged to complete comprehensive school. All pupils in Finland are equal and entitled to a safe learning environment.

The Finnish comprehensive school is free of charge. In addition to teaching, other services, such as health care - health check-ups, consultations with the school nurse and the services of a school doctor - are free of charge. School meals are also free. A school lunch is served daily.

The objective is to treat the pupils as individuals. It is important to create cooperation between the pupil’s home and the school. Meetings between the teachers and parents or guardians are arranged at the school to discuss matters concerning the class and school community. They are also occasions for private consultations with the teacher. When the parents or guardians wish and make an appointment, they can also come to the school to meet the teacher.

The teacher informs the parents and guardians about current issues and happenings concerning the pupil and the class via the Helmi- application. Parents can also write messages for the teacher via the Wilma-application.

The length of the lesson may vary. Between lessons there are breaks that are usually spent in the schoolyard. As a rule, pupils have homework to do, but not always. Some parents or guardians say there is less homework in Finland than in their country of origin.

Learning is based on trust between the teacher and the pupil. The pupil bears the responsibility for learning. Homework is therefore not always checked by the teacher.

In basic education the majority of the subjects, such as the mother language and literature as well as mathematics, are compulsory for all pupils. There are also some optional subjects to be chosen individually by the pupils and their parents or guardians. The head teachers and teachers send information to the pupils’ homes about the optional subjects available in their school. Younger pupils are assessed verbally, whereas older pupils receive a school report with grades assessed in numbers. The grading scale is between 4 (fail) and 10 (excellent). School reports with grades are given at least once a year.

Additionally, the teacher meets the parents or guardians once a year to discuss and evaluate the pupil’s situation, strengths and weaknesses. In Finnish schools the teacher has got a guiding role. The teacher’s task is to motivate and guide the pupil to learn. Every pupil learns best in his or her own way. It is the task of the parents or guardians to support their child at school and to cooperate with the teacher.

The general education follows the core curriculum of basic education.

Guide for basic education to the families of multilingual children

Finnish as a second language

Instruction in Finnish as a second language (S2) covers the syllabus of the mother language and literature for pupils with Finnish as a second language. In Tampere, instruction in Finnish as a second language is given to all pupils of immigrant origin and to all returnee pupils who need it.

A child learns to speak Finnish rather quickly but it usually takes 5-7 years to reach the level of academic, sufficient language skilli for further studies. Therefore, pupils with Finnish as a second language need S2 instruction during all basic instruction.

If necessary, an individual educational plan can be made for the pupil at the beginning of the course of study. Instruction in S2 is given either as differentiated in-class education or separately in a small group of pupils. Instruction in S2 concentrates on the pupil’s personal development of the central areas of language and vocabulary acquisition. In addition to instruction in S2, the pupil is entitled to have remedial teaching in other subjects, such as mathematics.