S2 language path model for higher education institutions - how the institution can support the language learning of international students
The S2 language path model is based on the following ideas
- The student's Finnish language studies are also effectively guided in English degree programmes from the beginning of the studies, and the student prepares a language personal study plan (PSP) with their instructor, which is updated regularly during the studies. You can find a template of a language PSP at the bottom of this page.
- The student develops their Finnish language skills throughout their studies starting from their own level even if they already have a B1 proficiency level in Finnish at the beginning of the studies.
- The student completes language practices and traineeships in a Finnish-language environment from the start. Language support is offered for the traineeship, and if necessary, the traineeship is carried out in pairs with a language mentor. A language agreement is drawn up at the beginning of the traineeship.
- The entire higher education community operates in a language-aware manner and provides the student with support in Finnish also in connection with studies in English (Finnish-language professional vocabulary, phrase lists for communication situations at the traineeship). In addition, the higher education institution offers students multilingual courses, an opportunity to participate in language mentor activities, language cafés and regular language clinics.
- The implementation of the language path encourages cooperation between different higher education institutions and provides an opportunity to consider what kind of S2 teaching the higher education institutions could offer in cooperation.
The basic principles of the model are also presented in Finnish in this video presenting the language path model in which Eveliina Korpela explains the starting points of the language path model that have been developed at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.
- Day-care centre employee, graduated in Finland from an English-language degree programme
"At work I get very little support in Finnish - so mostly I have to rely on my Finnish skills and Google Translate!"
The language path model step by step
It is important that students receive realistic information on what kind of Finnish skills are required in their profession. "You can survive with English in Finland" is not good advice if the student wants to stay in Finland after graduating and have an everyday life here. The language path model takes different needs and language skills into account.
There are many differences between people learning Finnish. On the one hand, there are students who have just moved to the country and who have no contact with Finnish language and culture. On the other, there are those who have lived in the country since they were a child and manage in most situations like native speakers, but who might not be familiar with the conventions of professional and formal communication.
The Language PSP allows the instructor to bring up the significance of language proficiency and Finnish ompetence in a neutral and student-oriented manner make the student's diverse language skills visible
specify the student's language learning objectives guide the student to suitable courses, language clinics or other support discuss the student's language learning strategies in an illustrative and encouraging manner.
The Language PSP is suitable e.g. as a tool for career counsellors as part of other personal guidance provided by students.
The language PSP is prepared with the supervisor at the beginning of the studies, and the plan is updated as the student learns more and the studies progress. The Language PSP covers the following matters:
- what the student needs language skills for
- the best ways to learn the language (individual objectives, motivation, language learning strategies)
- what language courses are available at the University of Applied Sciences
- which language courses should the student choose and when
- where and how students could use even moderate language skills
- what kind of language skills the student needs in general (future plans)
- how does the student think they will manage with future traineeships?
The guidelines and questions prepared in the Language Boost project were originally aimed at students studying in English-language degrees. The form can also be modified according to the needs of the student group to suit other situations.
In Finnish-language degrees, the following questions can be discussed directly with students if the student's language proficiency is already good:
How does the student expect to manage written assignments?
Does the student have experience in academic reading and writing assignments?
Would it be a good idea for students to practise their skills already in the early stages of their studies, for example in an online writing course or language clinic?
The Language PSP makes the need for language learning visible and supports the student's plan to learn the language adequately for integration and employment in Finland.
Read more on the blog post Suunnitelmallisuus on avain kielenoppimiseen - tukena kieli-HOPS. (In Finnish)
It is important that the international student’s Finnish language studies are recorded in the personal study plan as compulsory studies. For international students, this often means that their degree does not include optional studies. Instead, Finnish language studies replace optional studies. Master's programmes in English must also include the possibility of completing language studies depending on the student's starting level and needs.
The realisation of the learning path requires that compulsory language courses are recorded directly in the student schedules. The degree should include at least 25 credits in Finnish.
Finnish 1 (5 ECTS) (Level A1.2)
Finnish 2 (5 ECTS) (Level A1.3-A2.1)
Finnish 3 (5 ECTS) (Level A2.1–A2.2)
Finnish 4 (5 ECTS) (Level A2.2-B1.1) (may include degree-specific emphasis)
Language courses are offered not only as degree studies but also as elective linguistic studies that are common to everyone. Freely elected S2 studies should be implemented in cooperation with other higher education institutions as online studies. Completing optional language studies enables the achievement of intermediate level (B1) language proficiency.
In addition to language courses, at least one multilingual course (5 credits) related to the student's field of study should be offered which is implemented in cooperation between the student's own teacher and the S2 teacher (so-called pair teaching). On a multilingual course, possible parallel Finnish-language degree programmes and their students could easily be utilised.
In addition, traineeships and language internships must include their own objectives according to the student's language proficiency level (A1 - C2), and language support must be offered to students during traineeships, for example, the possibility of implementing the traineeship in pairs with students who already speak Finnish.
Language support for traineeships requires the higher education institution to include language support as part of the study structures and for the higher education institution to commit to implementing it. The planned language support provided jointly by the S2 teacher and the work place during the traineeship would guide the student to master the concepts and communication of their field in interactive situations in working life.
comprehensively and offers opportunities to speak Finnish in different authentic situations (e.g. language mentoring, language cafés, language clinics). Some of the language support is implemented with the help of Finnish-speaking students as part of their studies.
In a language-aware higher education institution, teachers of vocational subjects are teachers of the Finnish language in their field, and their task is to take into account the opportunities of international students to learn the vocabulary and established ways of using language in their field also in Finnish. The teacher recognises the most common (and most difficult) words and concepts, professional jargon, typical expressions and established ways of speaking in their field. It would be important also for students in English-language degree programmes to be able to compile a Finnish vocabulary and phrase bank for themselves in different courses.
Language awareness may be visible in different ways and at different levels of teaching, depending on the type of teaching and guidance, the student's Finnish language skills and language skills needs. However, the support of the higher education institution and language awareness training for teachers and instructors are needed as a basis for language support.
More about the language learning plan and the language agreement
Download the materials for your use.
How Metropolia started to develop language learning.
Language mentor supports and encourages international students.
Materials and models to support language learning during internships.