How to guide students in a language-aware manner
Language-aware teaching and guidance at a higher education institution
Learning at a higher education institution always takes place through language and with the help of language – it is a key tool in supporting learning. Especially in English-language degree programmes, it is important to become aware of languages, language use and the role of language as a learning tool. Language teaching should also be taken into account in the teaching of all vocational subjects or content subjects.
A language-aware teacher observes language and language use in different situations and supports the overlapping development of linguistic and content skills. In order to support the development of a higher education student's language proficiency, the teacher must be familiar with the student's linguistic resources, linguistic practices in the vocational field, and pedagogy that supports learning. Realising traineeships in a language-aware manner supports students in the development of their professional language skills so that the student can adopt the language use and interaction practices of a professional during the traineeship.
Language-aware teaching and guidance have been studied extensively in basic education. The perspectives and policies of basic education are useful when developing language-aware guidance at the higher education institution. The “Monikielisen oppijan matkassa” website (alongside multilingual learners) explains the pedagogy of language-aware teaching in a clear and concrete manner.
- At a language-aware higher education institution, the language required in the work and the professional language will be consciously made visible during the studies in the student's content subject.
- A language-aware higher education institution recognises that teachers of vocational subjects are teachers of Finnish language used in their field, and their task is to offer international students opportunities 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.
- A language-aware higher education institution ensures that students learn professional language in language-supported traineeships. Cramming glossary lists and writing texts separately from working life is not enough to acquire language proficiency. Instead, language must be used in authentic situations. Language-aware instruction acknowledging and recognising the significance of Finnish creates equality.
- In a language-aware higher education institution, language-aware teaching and guidance are implemented through cooperation: content subject teachers and S2 teachers meet regularly and plan together how professional language is integrated into content studies: How does a teacher make their material language-aware, how can students in English-language degree programmes be compiled a Finnish-language glossary of professional terminology, and how is guidance provided in a language-aware manner?
- In a language-aware higher education institution, language awareness may be visible in teaching in different ways depending on the student's Finnish language skills and language skills needs. The most important thing is that the student receives tools for also developing their professional language skills from the beginning of the studies.
Rules of thumb for language-aware teaching (Suitable for both English and Finnish-language teaching)
1. Always be clear on when a new idea is presented, when the processing of that idea is finished, and when a new topic is introduced: anticipation > processing > review. Use advance structuring: for example, at the beginning of a lecture, you can show a table of contents for the lecture.
2. Always present key issues in two ways: orally and by writing or visually. Important points should never be presented only in speech.
3. Visually demonstrate relationships between things; use images, di/agrams, and mind maps.
4. Present a lot rather than a little bit: repeat and explain in different words.
5. Check understanding often and in many ways: follow students' activities, ask questions assessing understanding, and ask follow-up questions.
6. Also encourage students to teach each other as it deepens learning.
7. Allow multiple languages to be used in parallel.
8. Discuss the meanings of important words and concepts; negotiations on meaning benefit everyone, including those who already have excellent language skills.
9. Slow down your speaking and enunciate clearly. However, speak naturally, and spoken language may be used.
10. Always give students enough time to process questions and their own answers after the question.
(Adapted from Kuukka, I. & Rapatti, K. (ed.) 2012. Yhteistä kieltä luomassa. Suomea opetteleva opetusryhmässäni. Helsinki: The Finnish National Agency for Education.)
Language-aware work community and language-aware traineeship
- combines language development with everyday work
- combines language with work in a structured and conscious manner
- offers instructors and language mentors the role of a language support person in the work community
- supports employees' interest and willingness to talk about questions related to language and interaction at work
- assigns responsibility to employees and managers and makes language learning a shared interest for everyone
- brings up interaction codes and perceptions (sometimes invisible) of "good" and "bad" communication
- highlights the vocational language needed in the work as the starting point for language learning and language courses
- guides also students, trainees and substitutes in a language-aware manner
- takes language challenges into account and offers solutions that benefit the entire work community
- reduces language-related tensions and ensures everyone's participation.
Source: Stilling, E. 2022. Med språket som strategisk verktyg. Föreningen Vård- och omsorgscollege.
In the videos below, Eveliina Korpela from Metropolia University of Applied Sciences talks about language-aware guidance in traineeships.
Language-aware guidance, Part 1: Tips for using easy Finnish (length 7:35)
Language-aware guidance, Part 2: Tips for language-aware encounters at the workplace (length 7:53)
Finnish subtitles in videos, no translations.
TOKASA training videos for workplace instructors
Videos provide tips for workplace instructors on how to guide nursing students who are just learning Finnish in a language-aware manner.
Different workplaces require different language skills. It is important for work places to consider the language proficiency required in the work tasks in advance.
©2023 Eveliina Korpela, Eevamaija Iso-Heiniemi, Hanna Aho, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
Language aware guindance -website. Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, produced by Eveliina Korpela, Eevamaija Iso-Heiniemi ja Hanna Aho, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The material can be found at kielibuusti.fi. Photos: All rights reserved.