23 SES 03 C, Curriculum Policy
Parallel Paper Session
Foreign language teaching and multilingualism are strongly promoted by the European Union in order to foster social cohesion and intercultural dialogue. It is also stressed that versatile language skills offer better life chances for EU citizens and are a competitive advantage for EU business. (European Commission 2008.) These objectives are manifested in the European language education policy’s goal for all learners: mother tongue plus two foreign languages. Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) has been proposed as one possible key to achieving this goal. CLIL has also been said to create greater opportunities to support plurilingualism and intercultural understanding, which makes it highly relevant to European language policy (Marsh 2002). In this context, CLIL is used as an umbrella term covering a variety of different ways to teach content through an additional language (Nikula 2007), including language immersion.
This paper reports some findings from a survey mapping the current situation and future need of CLIL in Finnish municipalities. The survey included both early childhood education and basic education (ISCED levels 0-2). There has been no information available about CLIL on local level in Finland even though significant decisions concerning language education are made locally, i.e. in municipalities. The survey was part of a larger study (Kangasvieri et al. 2011) funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture that considered also the state of CLIL teacher education in Finland with respect to existing teacher education programmes and the need for CLIL teachers in the municipalities.
In this survey, we used two subcategories for CLIL. The term “language immersion” referred to the two national languages, Finnish and Swedish, as well as for Sami as a national heritage language. The phrase “teaching through a foreign language” was used to refer to other languages involved in teaching both content and language. This distinction was done as there is established Swedish language immersion based originally on the Canadian immersion model. On the other hand, Swedish language immersion (along with the role of Swedish in the general language programme) is language politically a somewhat controversial issue in Finland.
Since municipalities have the right to decide how they organize this type of education and what they call it, both language immersion and teaching through a foreign language are implemented very heterogeneously (Pöyhönen 2009). This regionally and locally heterogeneous implementation together with the ambiguous terminology poses a threat to educational equality even though equal opportunities in education are highly emphasized in the current development plan for education and research (Ministry of Education and Culture 2011).
Our presentation will focus on the following research questions:
- How is CLIL education regionally distributed in Finland?
- In what ways is CLIL teaching implemented in municipalities?
- How do the municipalities perceive the future of their CLIL provision?
By answering these questions we intend to give some insights into how CLIL is viewed by local Finnish educational authorities as the different implementations of CLIL education have been filtered by the municipalities’ own political, cultural, and economic realities.
European Commission 2008. Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, The Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. COM(2008) 566 final. Kangasvieri, T., Miettinen, E., Palviainen, H., Saarinen, T. & Ala-Vähälä, T. 2011. Selvitys kotimaisten kielten kielikylpyopetuksen ja vieraskielisen opetuksen tilanteesta Suomessa: kuntatason tarkastelu [A Report on the situation of language immersion and teaching through a foreign language in Finland: Survey on the local level]. University of Jyväskylä: Centre for Applied Language Studies. Marsh, D. 2002. CLIL/EMILE - the European dimension: actions, trends and foresight potential. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä. Ministry of Education and Culture 2011. Koulutus ja tutkimus vuosina 2011-2016. Kehittämissuunnitelma [Education and Research 2011-2016. Development plan]. Helsinki: Ministry of Education and Culture. Nikula, T. 2007. Speaking English in Finnish content-based classrooms. World Englishes, 26 (2), 206-223. Pöyhönen, S. 2009. Foreign Language Teaching in Basic and Secondary Education in Finland: Current situation and future challenges. In S. Lucietto Plurilinguismo e innovazione di sistema. Sfide e ricerche curricolari in ambito nazionale e internatizionale. Provincia Autonoma di Trento: IPRASE del Trentino, pp. 143–174.
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