Practical observations from TAMK’s Finnish Language Club: communality, doing together and inclusion in language and culture learning

TAMK students laugh.

Individuals’ and groups’ social wellbeing is important in promoting learning. This has also been noticed in the Finnish language club of TAMK’s Study and Stay programme. When people feel good and interact openly, they have courage to learn to know other people and it is easier to learn. The threshold to speak in a foreign language becomes lower when the atmosphere is warm and safe. Participation in the language club is voluntary low-threshold activity.

The aim is to support foreign students in learning Finnish and establishing social networks while exploring the Finnish culture, Tampere Region and regional organisations and associations. The home base for the language club is the Parvi room at the main campus but students have also visited Marhaban Centre, the labour museum and forests and played different games in parks in the summer. The Finnish Red Cross visits the club regularly.

Students’ wishes and benefits are considered important in building the programme. Students are encouraged to participate in planning the activities. Feedback is collected on all the activities.

A team of TAMK’s social services students participated in planning the clubs in autumn 2022. They organised a dream map workshop together with Jaana, who is a volunteer at the language club. It is fun to do crafts together and it promotes community spirit and inclusion. The dream map workshop was a meaningful activity for the participants and taught them new words. It probably tells something about the club atmosphere that all the participants wanted to share their dream maps with the others.

In autumn 2022, the themes of the Finnish language club have been TAMK Career Services’ working life tips, Finnish Red Cross’ voluntary work and language cafes, relaxation, wellbeing and Christmas party. Finnish vocabularies on the club themes are also available for the students.

Benefits of the language club

Language skills accumulate in many ways. A lot of learning also takes place outside the classroom in the everyday life. The club focuses on strengthening the everyday language and encourages to use the language even if the student only knows a couple of words.

Club participants learn teamwork skills, language skills, listening to others and doing together and may find like-minded peers. Many students have also learnt to identify their strengths and had the courage to meet other students in a foreign language.

The Finnish language club offers an excellent possibility to network. A good example of networking is that an international student had a training place in Tampere as a result of a language club visit. It is an important aspect of the Study&Stay programme and language club to support students’ access to practical trainings and working life.

Welcome to our language club community

We hope to have more Finnish participants to the club to support and help foreign students in integrating into Tampere. In the club, Finnish students can use English and get to know international students. The possibilities are unlimited: even to make friends for life. International cross-pollination is already underway at TAMK.

TAMK’s Finnish Language Club is a part of the Study&Stay and Talent Boost programmes. The application period for the next year’s Friend Programme will open soon.

Further information on Study & Stay programme click here.
Further information on TAMK’s Friend Programme click here.

Ursula Helsky, Professional Teacher, MBA, Bachelor of Business Administration, Life Coach
Laura Sairanen, Project Specialist, Community Educator

Photograph: Dimitra Panopoulou-Huovila