Language showering and co-simulation – Finnish language and cultural knowledge for international students

SAMK is developing the Finnish language support e.g. for the students in the English Nursing and Physiotherapy degree programmes. Senior Lecturers Marja Tomberg and Maarit Harjanne are enthusiastic about the results.

International nursing student group in a classroom at SAMK-campus Pori.

In the photo taken earlier this spring a language shower lecture going on, given by Maarit Harjanne (on the right) and Marja Tomberg (on the left).

Nursing students have been given for example a language shower where professional vocabulary and practices in Nursing were opened up in Finnish. The aim has been to help the students in their studies and smooth the passage to working life.

– In the future, we can include best practices in the courses, says Marja Tomberg, Senior Lecturer in Finnish and Communication at SAMK.

– During the lectures, we have gone through what is needed in the field in working life, e.g. admission interview of a patient, filling in the health history form, evaluating the patient´s need for treatment as well as patient education and telling about nursing interventions. All in Finnish only, of course.

– In the beginning, the students were terrified by all this. They were afraid that managing in Finnish would be too difficult for them. However, they have been really motivated and all has gone well, Marja Tomberg explains.

Practices as part of courses

Some of the international students have been involved straight from the start of their studies. For example the international students who started in autumn 2019 have practiced not only the Finnish language but also integrating in the culture of Satakunta region. The Multicultural Association of Satakunta has also been involved.

The Finnish and English Nursing groups have also tried co-simulation, where for example blood pressure measurement has been practiced. A job search workshop in Finnish has been offered in the final stages of studies.

– It has been noticed nationally that there is a need to support international students in learning the Finnish language, and that is how development work started, tells us Maarit Harjanne, Senior Lecturer in Nursing.

Own motivation is decisive

In future, clinical practice periods in working life will be developed by e.g. planning a multilingual and multidisciplinary traineeship model.

– In the traineeship model the cultural awareness of personal mentors in clinical practice will be increased, and the importance of simple Finnish in guidance is discussed. It might cause problems to understand very fast spoken Pori dialect, says Maarit Harjanne with a laugh.

The next level is organizing activities to direct the students towards B2 level (on CEFR levels). This would benefit especially those students with already a relatively good language proficiency in Finnish.

Professionals have been graduating from the English degree programme in Physiotherapy for years, and now the first Nursing students are about to graduate.

What is decisive for an international student to manage in the Finnish labour market?

– The decisive thing is your own motivation, Harjanne and Tomberg answer.

Info about language studies at SAMK

The curricula of English degree programmes at SAMK include currently 10 ECTS credits of studies in the Finnish language, which all the international students must take. The curricula also include studies of the English language. Besides these studies, the students may increase their professional language skills by choosing elective studies, such as Chinese, French, German or Spanish. The Finnish students need to study Swedish as well.

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