Preparatory year in school
Children and young people with immigrant backgrounds study the Finnish language and learn about the Finnish culture, habits, and nature in a class that prepares them for basic education.
In Oulu seventeen learner groups around the town are receiving teaching which prepares them for basic education. There are currently 153 learners with immigrant backgrounds between the ages of 7 and 17, but the situation can change quickly.
During the preparatory education the learners' previous skills and educational backgrounds are always taken into consideration.
"There are challenges involved in teaching a diverse group of learners, such as the fact that they may speak five different mother tongues. Some of them can't read, and others fluently master many languages," says Antti Koistinen, the cultural groups' service coordinator.
Interpreters can be present in the classes in the beginning, but the teaching is in Finnish. The emphasis is on the Finnish studies. In addition, the learners study other age appropriate subjects and get to know the Finnish culture, customs, nature, and living conditions.
The main goal of the preparatory class is to provide the learners with an adequate level of Finnish in order for them to be able to proceed to basic education after the class.
"Usually the students stay in the preparatory class for a year, but the City of Oulu is very flexible with regards the timeframe," Koistinen says.
The learner can be integrated into the basic education group even earlier by attending, for instance, sports, art and music lessons.