Level 5 – Building for the long-term

What started as a few conversations about learning Finnish at work can end up shaping the core policies and practices of your whole organisation. This lifts the impact of your initiatives to a whole new level – resources can be allocated, special roles can be assigned, and prospective employees can be confident that their language-learning goals will be supported.
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Photo: Anni Hanén. All rights reserved.

The order of these levels has been shaped to form a natural progression for you, an international employee in an all- or mostly-English work environment who would like to strengthen opportunities and support for Finnish learning on the job and, in the process, also strengthen the role of Finnish in your workplace.
You are ideally placed to take the grassroots, bottom-up approach presented here: trying things out with individual colleagues and helping them to speak clearer, then doing the same in team meetings or other small group settings, then seeing if these experiments work and catch on, becoming wider practices throughout the organisation.

All of this feeds into the top level – organisational policies and structures that are recorded in official documents and allocated sufficient resources. To have influence at this level, you need to start the conversation with your organisation’s management, if you haven’t already done so.

One way to approach this would be to share with them your motivation for the things you’ve already initiated and some of the positive results you’ve seen. You could then tip them off about the excellent Monikielisen työyhteisön opas (Handbook for Multilingual Work Communities), which provides both a broad perspective on the importance of language awareness as well as many practical tools for developing an organisation’s language strategy. Many of the ideas in these articles have been drawn from this handbook, which was developed by Language Boost and the Multilingual Worklife and Means of Participation research project.

The rest of this article is designed to give you a taste of what this top-level language policy can include. For more insight on these topics, and if your Finnish reading skills are strong enough, you can give yourself some good reading practice and dive into Chapter 8 of the Monikielisen työyhteisön opas.

Other articles in this series:


Why become a language learning catalyst?

Your steps to learn Finnish at work can impact your whole work community

Become a language learning catalyst

Level 1 – Start the conversation

How to talk with Finns about talking Finnish

Become a language learning catalyst
Two students are walking in the corridor. They are smiling.

Level 2 – Learner-friendly Finnish

Help your workmates to make their Finnish easier to understand

Become a language learning catalyst
Smiling adults are chatting over a coffee break.

Level 3 – Finnish your meetings

Take the plunge and explore the many options for multilingual meetings

Become a language learning catalyst

Level 3 Remixed – Survival skills for Finnish meetings

Having meetings in Finnish can be great for language learning, as long as you have the skills for staying afloat.

Become a language learning catalyst

Level 4 – Shaping a new normal

Root in new multilingual practices through the power of language agreements

Become a language learning catalyst
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