For the Language Centre, 2018 was a hectic but good year. The second year of transition associated with the University’s degree reform did not yet require a significant expansion of the volume of teaching, but we are preparing for that eventuality as the transition period draws to a close.
Concerns about the increasingly narrow range of Finns’ language skills and of language education at the university level turned into concrete action when the Ministry of Education and Culture decided – upon a joint application by universities and universities of applied sciences – to allocate €3.3 million to a three-year spearhead project for developing the foreign language resources of higher education institutions by combining existing courses and developing new ones through nationwide and regional cooperation. The related learning paths are based on digital pedagogical practices. The project also strengthens national cooperation networks with the aim of supporting the professional training of teachers and the development of their expertise.
The new project (KIVAKO) is similar to the DIGIJOUJOU spearhead project that has previously received funding for the development of flexible Finnish and Swedish learning and supervision for the needs of the future job market. Several teachers from the Language Centre are currently involved in both projects. The projects will expand resources for the development of digital learning and provide opportunities for closer cooperation throughout the higher education sector.
Participation in these spearhead projects supports the Language Centre’s strategic objectives in the development of diverse opportunities for language learning. To the same end, the Language Centre is also engaged in the joint 2digi project of Finnish university language centres, which focuses on the promotion of teachers’ digital skills.
Communication and language skills are an integral part of academic education and the workplace skills required of specialists. The significance of these skills only seems to increase for both employment and general life management. The Language Centre will continue its mission of providing opportunities for the diverse development of communication and language skills.
This year’s annual report will be my last as the Language Centre’s director. As I near retirement, I would like to thank the University community for their productive and respectful cooperation. I would also like to express my warmest thanks to the staff of the Language Centre: I will remember our years together as a time of mutual trust and dialogue. The Language Centre has aspired to be a professional and reliable partner, a sought-after international associate and an inspiring work community. I believe we have achieved these goals thanks to the efforts of our staff.
Ulla-Kristiina Tuomi, director of the Language Centre