Functional Swedish – Starting Points for Developing the Teaching of Swedish as the Second National Language of Finland
- Functional Swedish – Starting Points for Developing the Teaching of Swedish as the Second National Language of Finland
- Series of publications
- Reports of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland 2012:9
- Number of pages
- 978-952-263-145-9 (PDF)
- ISSN-L 1799-0327, 1799-0335 (Online)
- the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland
A working group was appointed to assess the extent and teaching arrangements of the teaching of Swedish at different educational levels and to explore different alternatives for arranging the teaching of Swedish in basic education. In addition, the working group was asked to put forward proposals for improving the teaching and learning of Swedish at all levels and for ensuring language equality.
The decline in competence in the Swedish language is due to several reasons. The amount of Swedish studies has been reduced and the studies have become increasingly one-sided in basic education. In 2010, 89.9 percent of students in comprehensive school studied Swedish as their B1 language and 8.3 percent as their A1 and A2 language. The scope of the B1 syllabus has been reduced by half compared to the 1970s. After the structural reform of the matriculation examination, the test in the second national language was made optional in the matriculation examination in 2004. After this decision, the number of students opting to take the Swedish test in the matriculation examination has declined so that in 2009 the figure was just 68 percent. Regional and gendered differences can also be detected in opting to take the Swedish test as part of the matriculation examination.
These structural and quantitative changes impact the quality of language education in Swedish, and the continuum of Swedish studies from early childhood education to adult education is not realised with the current resources and practices. Learning outcomes in the Swedish language are not satisfactory, and gender-based differences in skills level and attitude appear to be increasing.
Particularly critical are transitions from basic education to secondary education and again to higher education. The current situation at lower educational levels has led to institutes of higher education having to patch up deficiencies in Swedish skills, which places an additional strain on their resources to develop the skills of the students for example with reference to the needs of working life.
The working group considers it necessary to explore the development of Swedish teaching from three different viewpoints. These viewpoints are ensuring the principle of the education continuum and equal learning, the development of curricula and teaching methods and the development of the opportunities of immigrants to achieve the skills in Swedish necessary in working life.
One of the most central conclusions of the working group is that starting Swedish studies on the seventh grade of comprehensive school is in many ways problematic. For this reason, the working group finds it important that the point at which pupils begin to study Swedish be re-evaluated in the future. Proposals to do with developing the teaching of Swedish emphasise the renewal of curricula and teaching methods and a continuum between basic and continuing teacher education. With reference to immigrants, the working group stated that immigrants must have equal opportunities for education compared to the rest of the population.