English speaking children in Finnish mainstream schools..

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Cory
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English speaking children in Finnish mainstream schools..

Post by Cory » Wed Oct 01, 2003 7:51 pm

Seems like an appropriate place to start this thread, being that this is the . and that includes our smallest English speakers, too!

This question is posed for the other parents on the board..

If your preschool children are functionally fluent in both Finnish and English, are you intending to place them in a mainstream Finnish school or a so called English "immersion" school? Our son is only 4 but since we live so far from any "immersion" school, we will need to do some long-term planning in case our decision requires a move.

Are there any parents here that have chosen the "immersion" route and then regretted their decision (ie..child's English deteriorates due to the lower level of English spoken by the other kids, etc)?

For those of you who have chosen the mainstream schools, what has been your experience with your child's fluency in English?

Thanks for any comments!

Cory



English speaking children in Finnish mainstream schools..

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Tom and Jerry

Post by Tom and Jerry » Wed Oct 01, 2003 9:33 pm

It's in the name: mainstream. A Finnish school in Heinola looks much better, certainly for the social development. It's no fun for a kid to be
forced to a school some 40 km further away, whilst the neighbour kid only has to walk 200 meters.
The English language development can come later. What do you expect? You live in Heinola, not in Paris; so you have to teach yourself English to your children.

Success with your efforts.

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nehia_qom
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Post by nehia_qom » Wed Oct 01, 2003 10:59 pm

I work in an English Immersion school and I am not sure if that would be the place for a child who is already fluent in english. Seems like it would defeat the purpose.
Have you looked into any sort of international schools? That may be a better option.
Also I don't think that it would slow down the english development since (at least at my school) the children mostly speak in finnish to each other and only speak english when asked something specific.
If you have any questions about how a the school works let me know. Though I have heard that immersion schools can vary a lot.

Jessica

When choosing between two evils, always choose the one you haven't tried yet.
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Post by Deman » Wed Oct 01, 2003 11:09 pm

My eldest daughter has just started school this year and we sent her to a normal Finnish school, about 800 metres away. The English school means two buses and she is too young to take this responsiblity herself. Her neighbourhood friends go to the same school as she goes to now. She walks to and from school with them. But this school is only an Alaste (spelling?) as it isn't in the city. When she goes to Yläste(?) she can go to the English school if she wants to. We're not forcing her but at that age she will be old enough to look after herself quite well. Besides this year when starting school, she wanted to go to the English school. But it was too much trouble for all concerned. :cry:

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Post by Hank W. » Wed Oct 01, 2003 11:24 pm

The thing is if there is strong English at home (you need to work with the kid, maybe get English school books - I'd have a few all scribbled in :mrgreen:) and keep the English at par, and do the ala-aste in Finnish, then the kid will have strong Finnish and then continue fluently bilingual to yläaste and lukio (which allows either IB or Finnish YO path) - not here dissing vocational schooling - but if the kid doesn't get formal education in Finnish, (or English) they'll end up as me with Swedish;
- 1/2 kin Swedish, Swedish name
- spoken Swedish learned by talking
- school Swedish passed by guessing, 6 & 7 average (too easy)
- can't write grammatically correct Swedish nor read 'heavy text'

I had English 'immersion schooling' - actually I know my English grammar better than my Finnish... and I *hate* grammar... funny I hate maths too so that makes me a freak as you are supposed to be good in either maths or languages, I suck in both :mrgreen:
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.

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Cory
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Post by Cory » Thu Oct 02, 2003 8:32 pm

Tom, you wrote..

The English language development can come later. What do you expect? You live in Heinola, not in Paris; so you have to teach yourself English to your children.

I wasn't expecting sarcasm to my question. It's a concern. Our child has no "mother" tongue but has mother tongues...he's completely bilingual. Both Dh and I work in Lathi so he currently attends an English language preschool because it's easiest for us to deal with. My query was specifically related to the pros and cons of English immersion vs Finnish "mainstream" (or if you like, Suomea peruskoulu tai ala-aste) and our wondering what kinds of experiences other parents have had with the continued language development...good or bad. We are considering actually moving to Lahti *if* we decide to enroll him in the English peruskoulu.

We wonder, though, since there're not many other bilingual children in this school, whether it's an "immersion" program rather than a "ESL" school. Again, I ask for comments from other parents who may have enrolled their children in the "immersion" schools.

Cory

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Post by Cory » Thu Oct 02, 2003 8:42 pm

Deman wrote:My eldest daughter has just started school this year and we sent her to a normal Finnish school, about 800 metres away.

If you don't mind me asking, has she shown any reluctance in continuing the use of her home language (which I'm just assuming is different than Finnish)? I spend alot of time with our son working on letters and pre-reading games, we read alot, I find myself talking *all* the time, etc. This is all done without the "influence" of a Finnish speaking teacher and a 5 hour day with Finnish speaking peers. Happily, his languages are balanced but I wonder what other parents have experienced in the first few years of Finnish school.

Cory





The English school means two buses and she is too young to take this responsiblity herself. Her neighbourhood friends go to the same school as she goes to now. She walks to and from school with them. But this school is only an Alaste (spelling?) as it isn't in the city. When she goes to Yläste(?) she can go to the English school if she wants to. We're not forcing her but at that age she will be old enough to look after herself quite well. Besides this year when starting school, she wanted to go to the English school. But it was too much trouble for all concerned. :cry:

Tom and Jerry

Post by Tom and Jerry » Fri Oct 03, 2003 12:18 pm

Cory wrote: I wasn't expecting sarcasm to my question. It's a concern. Our child has no "mother" tongue but has mother tongues...he's completely bilingual.

Again, I ask for comments from other parents who may have enrolled their children in the "immersion" schools.

Cory
Sorry, well my answer is based on the conversations I had in the past ten years with other parents.

Often when the children are very young, parents have idealistic plans to teach the other language, but in practice it is too difficult to realize. This happens also frequently: the child will fight and rebel against learning English if it can't go to a normal school where the neighbour kid also goes, with whom he is playing and exchanging Finnish ice-hockey cards...

Therefore I think it is better to go with the mainstream.

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Post by ajdias » Fri Oct 03, 2003 12:38 pm

I've been told by other parents whose children are now grown up that is very difficult to teach your language to the kids, they will resist and at some point you'll give up and speak finnish to them too.. and one complains that his sons blame him for not having enough language skills :(

I might be a bit idealistic but I'm not prepared to quite, although onlu very rarely someone else around speaks the language to them. I bought videos, tapes and more books from last month's holiday and I'll do whatever I can to motivate my children.

Tom, have you ever considered having them studying at the German school in kamppi, would that help their dutch skills?

Tom and Jerry

Post by Tom and Jerry » Fri Oct 03, 2003 1:10 pm

"I might be a bit idealistic but I'm not prepared to quite, although onlu very rarely someone else around speaks the language to them. I bought videos, tapes and more books from last month's holiday and I'll do whatever I can to motivate my children. "

Good to hear. I had all the Walt Disney videos. They learnt these in both languages. I found that games, children games are the most efficient for very young kids.
Children also like to look at cartoons in any language.

Hei, I found that with satellite TV you can get several Portugese stations in Finland from the Hispasat satellite (from Portugal and Brasil).

"at the German school in kamppi, would that help their dutch skills?"

No, Dutch and German are two completely different languages. That's like teaching Italian on a Portuguese school.

There is a Dutch saturday school by the way in Leppävaara.

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Post by ajdias » Sun Oct 05, 2003 11:40 pm

My mistake, I quite my Dutch course after two classes.. but Germans seemed to pick it soo easily and I was told that the languages were related. Maybe it was just Rrroningen's accent,... :lol: :lol:

I knew of the Satellite Tv, and have been wondering if it is worth buying it, only to see South-American style television (I'm referring to the portuguese station :( ).


What is a saturday school like and how does it work? IIRC there was someone else mentioning an english saturday school (in Lahti?).. I'm not sure that there are enough kids around speaking the language, but that would be a project worth going for.

Tom and Jerry

Post by Tom and Jerry » Mon Oct 06, 2003 2:49 pm

The kids go on Saturday for a few hours to school, where they play or have lessons in their parents native language.
The community (city, village) has to pay for the class-room and part of the teachers salary.
The school law in Finland tells that if in a community, e.g. espoo, three Portuguese kids can be found, than the city of Espoo should arrange lessons in Portuguese. In practice Espoo may give you a school for a few hours a week and a small amount of money to arrange these lessons.

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Post by ajdias » Mon Oct 06, 2003 6:27 pm

Really nice to hear, thanks Tom! :D Do you know if the law establishes any kind of age boundaries (like only for kids older/younger than a certain age, so that each group must have at least 3?). I'm definitely going to look for more information, contact the city and other parents. If there are enough..

Tom and Jerry

Post by Tom and Jerry » Mon Oct 06, 2003 7:23 pm

It's in the Finnish school law. I don't know the exact text, but I can tell you how it is applied in practice: usually for children between 4 and 12, it is for one city or community and there need to be more than 3 (three).

The city and the school rehtori may not like this, because it means a lot of work for them, but law is law.
In the case of Dutch, they found a few years ago about 50 kids in Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo. So, the three cities agreed that there will be one school in Espoo.

(In other cities, that have more money, you may even get the taxi to collect all those kids. )

So, for Portuguese Helsinki may do something similar. I guess there are about 20-30 Portuguese kids in Helsinki and surroundings. You have already a Portugues group here in Helsinki isn't it? Contact the 'opetusvirasto' in Helsinki and they have to tell you how many other Portuguese kids there are on the schools in Helsinki.

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Post by Deman » Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:31 am

Cory wrote:My eldest daughter has just started school this year and we sent her to a normal Finnish school, about 800 metres away.

If you don't mind me asking, has she shown any reluctance in continuing the use of her home language (which I'm just assuming is different than Finnish)? I spend alot of time with our son working on letters and pre-reading games, we read alot, I find myself talking *all* the time, etc. This is all done without the "influence" of a Finnish speaking teacher and a 5 hour day with Finnish speaking peers. Happily, his languages are balanced but I wonder what other parents have experienced in the first few years of Finnish school.

Cory
She doesn't really show any reluctance to neither of the langauges she speaks but she doesn't prefer to speak Finnish with her brother and sister and other bilingual children. But there is no hestitation at all when she visits her grandparents in Ireland. Her Finnish of course is stronger than her English but that's only natural as she speaks it more often; at school, with neighbours, friends... She only has the opportunity to speak English with me except for the rare occasions when she meets some of my English speaking friends. I'm not at all worried about her abilites. She will talk as a native talks in time.


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