About the winter and spring season 2014
The Suggestipedian Finnish course for beginners was organized with the help of “JoMoni” (Joensuu multicultural organization) and “Silta” (immigrant center of Joensuu). The course was free of charge. The funds were provided by educational center “Ok-opintokeskus”, cultural and educational organization “Visio” and “Kansanssivistysrahasto” fund. It would have not been possible without them.
Prior to winter and spring 2014 we organized a short one-month demo course in order to present the method and find out whether it will be popular with immigrants. The method proved attractive. The 1st group included 15 students. We decided to carry on.
Who are the students?
The course took on elementary learners of Finnish. Some of them only spent less than a year in Finland and were just starting to familiarize themselves with Finnish. They knew how to introduce themselves, the alphabet, some basic etiquette phrases and a small number of common words. However, understanding Finnish words in speech, as well as speaking in sentences, was usually out of their range. One important point was that the students were able to repeat Finnish sounds, words and sentences after the instructor. Some of them had been on beginners’ courses before.
The others had lived in Finland for between 1 and 6 years. Their passive vocabulary was sufficient for understanding well-articulated speech but speaking was impaired due to the language barrier as well as insufficient knowledge of grammar.
The difference in the language levels somewhat slowed down the pace and progress but, judging by the active involvement demonstrated by the students, it did not impair communication and doing exercises in class. For those who had just started with the language, the content was entirely new which mean they had to learn vocabulary and grammar and master all four language competencies (speaking, listening, reading and writing) simultaneously. The more advanced students not only gained new knowlegde but also structured what they already knew.
IMPORTANT: The course is aimed at groups aged from 15 on. It is based on English which is used for explaining grammar and translating new vocabulary.
Contents of the Course
The content of the course is comprised of topics typical for the elementary level: meeting people, a story of yourself (languages, age, nationality), jobs, education, hobbies, family, visiting friends, getting around, visiting a doctor. The grammar part includes the following topics: conjugation (present tense, finite forms, negative forms, imperative), possessive suffixes, pospositions, genitive, locative, objective cases (accusative and partitive), consonant gradation.
Objectives of the Course
The main objective of the course is communication. Suggestopedia teaches how to communicate, teaches how to learn mainly by ear and through multiple repetition, role--playing situations and emotional and active communication support. The share of reading and writing in the classroom is minimal. Speaking and speaking again, a comfortable interaction with the teacher and other students, games, skits, presentations, and, certainly, humor.
We strive to help immigrants better adjust to life in Finland iby not only teaching the language, but also by talking about the culture, customs and mentality. Another objective of the course is to reduce the language barrier and show students that communication is not necessarily a stressful situation. It is possible to establish contact with even minimal knowledge of the Finnish language.
Effectiveness of the method
The efficiency of suggestopedia, like any other technique, depends largely on the frequency of classes. Unfortunately, we only had the opportunity to engage two times a week for 1.5 hours. But even this is sufficient to feel the progress: to learn the key rules, learn how to use the gained knowledge for communication and to stop experiencing the stress of communicating in a foreign language. The students evaluated the effectiveness of the courses by filling out an anonymous questionnaire. The assessment of students can be found in the post under the tag "feedback."
Plans for the future
In the autumn of 2014, we plan to re-apply for financial support and enroll a new group of absolute beginners, as well as to continue the classes with advanced beginners.