VET Reform and Language Skills (#61/100)

by Ulla Virtanen, TAKK

Languages open doors

Today I am very pleased with the statements from AMKE to the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture about the effects on languages in Vocational Education and Training. AMKE supports giving up the requirements for language competences, but wants to maintain the national language proficiency test. Naturally there is more to the news, but here, a few comments and also memories from my keyboard.

Language skills in the 1990’s were a must. We were approaching the European Union era and there was no way a Finn could make it with only Finnish and obligatory Swedish. English was also a must – of course – as an obligatory subject in all schools. Towards the 8th grade, in the countryside, my parents made us children choose, which language we want to take next; my brother chose German, I chose French.  By the way, we wanted to do this, the atmosphere was very extra-language-skills-supportive in general. After that, a few more languages have taken a hold on us…

Coming back to this news in AMKE website, In my opinion, we need to master the language we use at home, in studies and at work. Language is not only a tool, but a channel to express one’s soul outwards and reach the others with all the passion one has. Every new word is a new door and every new language is a new rhythm of life. (Also, don’t they say, the scientists, that with each language skill, you get two more years to your life?)

Teemu Kokko, the President and CEO of HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences, said to me a year ago, that in Haaga-Helia UAS they push their students learn a bit more languages than they should for their studies, he wants this. I have thought of this many times later and I think this is a wise man in lead. (Greetings!) Now that the languages come back to lower school grades earlier, I am very glad. I especially want to protect out VET students’ rights to language competences, as they are doors to worlds beyond unbelievable.

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