Dealing with bi- and multilingualism in Swedish-language schools in Finland


The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) will implement an evaluation of bilingualism and multilingualism in Swedish-speaking schools during the school year 2017–2018. Roughly one half of the pupils in Swedish-speaking schools speak Swedish and another language at home, or they only speak a language other than Swedish at home.

The bilingual students who speak Finnish and Swedish form the largest multilingual group. At the moment, they constitute approximately 44% of the pupils at Swedish-speaking schools. Three groups of pupils will be studied: 1) pupils who speak Finnish and Swedish bilingually; 2) pupils who speak Swedish at home in addition to another language that is not Finnish, such as Russian; 3) pupils who only speak a language other than Finnish or Swedish at home.

In the evaluation, we will focus on studying the potential to support the pupils’ language development in primary education. Key questions include, for example, how teachers implement language-aware teaching in practice, and how language awareness is visible in the schools’ operating culture. We will also assess how competent and systematic schools are in supporting the pupils’ language development, and what kind of resources they have for the purpose. These questions mainly concern school principals and education providers. In addition, the evaluation will also assess the pupils’, parents’ and caregivers’, and teachers’ opinion on the implementation of activities supporting language awareness. We will also examine attitudes towards multilingual pupils and how they are treated.

FINEEC will collect information with surveys from classroom teachers, principals, heads of local education and culture departments, pupils, and parents and carers. The evaluation approach also includes visits to selected schools. FINEEC will publish a final report on the evaluation in the autumn of 2018.

FINEEC contact person:

Counsellor av Evaluation Jan Hellgren,, tel. +358 29 533 5531