Globalisation and internationalisation create a natural demand for seeking employment across borders and thus, the need to learn languages and understand the culture of the nearby nations increases.
One of EU’s multilingualism goals is for every European to speak two languages in addition to their native language. In Lithuania and other Baltic states there has been a tendency of establishing Nordic businesses and companies. Young people find working in international and Scandinavian companies more attractive as there are wider career ladder opportunities. Hence, learning the cultures and languages benefit them in their job search.
Similarly, interest towards the Finnish language and culture might arise among foreign degree students in Finland and incoming exchange students. They would benefit from learning the basics of the language and culture online, prior to arriving in Finland.
Multilingualism enhancing employability
Enhancing multilingualism and employability of students in the Nordic-Baltic region were the starting points for the Nordplus Language project Multilingualism as a Key to Enhance Students’ Employability (2019-2022). The project set to offer an introduction to the Finnish language and culture, and hence advance students’ employability in their own countries and in the Nordic-Baltic region.
During the project, an online course was created, piloted, edited and test run with two groups of students in Lithuania. A group arrived in Finland for an intensive course to test their skills in an immersive setting and to experience the culture.
The feedback from the test users and intensive program participants were positive. The participants found the online course functional and interesting, and felt that the intensive program helped them to experience the culture and thus take their learning experience into a deeper level.
The positive experiences of the project have encouraged the project partners to create a plan with a broadened consortium to create a similar curricula for another language in the Baltic-Nordic area.
Benefits and impact of the co-created Finnish language curricula
The benefits of the program for students of higher education seeking employment in the Baltic-Nordic region, are that they can study Finnish online with the material created prior to starting their employment. Also, future students arriving to study in Finland and seeking job opportunities, can now learn the basics of Finnish language and culture online when preparing to arrive to Finland. Thirdly, institutions of higher education can broaden their language course offer with a non-stop online course, an intensive program, or a combination of both supported with teacher materials.
The broader impact of the project results, the curricula development with an online and an intensive course can alleviate the threshold of institutions to offer and students to start to study a new language. Furthermore, the courses can enhance cultural awareness and intercultural cooperation, increase student and work force mobility as well as increase cooperation between companies and institutions of higher education. The results may benefit various levels of educational institutions and learning in corporate settings.