Jan Vapaavuori, the mayoral candidate of the National Coalition Party in Helsinki, has voiced his support for a proposal to introduce foreign language instruction to the curriculum as early as in the first year of basic education.
“I’m firmly in favour. This is exactly the direction in which education should be developed,” he writes in his blog.
Helsinki’s Education Committee has similarly voiced its support for the proposal tabled by Mari Holopainen (Greens), a councillor for the City of Helsinki. The Education Committee reminds that early-age language teaching has been shown to promote the ability and motivation of pupils to learn foreign languages. Yet, it adds, no more than 13 of the 76 Finnish-language primary schools in the city are currently offering foreign-language teaching to pupils before the third grade.
“Studies have shown that the best results in foreign language learning are achieved when the learning has begun before the age of nine years,” it says in its statement to the Helsinki City Board.
The Education Committee also acknowledges that the proposal would create additional costs by increasing the hours of instruction for first and second-grade pupils from a minimum of 19 to 21 weekly lessons per year.
“The annual cost would be approximately 2.5 million euros for Finnish and Swedish-language schools,” it estimates.
Vapaavuori points out that foreign language skills are important especially to the residents of small language areas, such as Finns. “If we are intent on providing our children with the best possible capabilities for their life’s journey, we cannot overstate the importance of language skills,” he says.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi