Putting policies into practice
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PUTTING POLICIES INTO PRACTICE. Heidi Rontu D. Phil. Director Language Centre. HEI JA TERVEISET SUOMESTA HEJ OCH HÄLSNINGAR FRAN FINLAND. Aalto University. Established 2010 as a merger of three Finnish universities The Helsinki School of Economics Helsinki University of Technology

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Putting policies into practice


Heidi Rontu D. Phil.


Language Centre

Hei ja terveiset suomesta hej och h lsningar fran finland


Aalto university
Aalto University

  • Established 2010 as a merger of three Finnish universities

    • The Helsinki School of Economics

    • Helsinki University of Technology

    • The University of Art and Design Helsinki

  • Statistics

    • 20 434 students

    • 1567 Master's degrees

    • 180 Doctoral degrees

    • 4512 staff, of which 308 professors

    • Annual budget appr. 370 million euros

Finnish language context
Finnish language context

  • Officially bilingual country with 2 national languages Finnish and Swedish (5% of the population Swedish speaking)

    • Regional variation

    • Bilingualism as a social and individual phenomenon

      • Monolingual and bilingual municipalities

      • Individual bilingualism in Finnish and Swedish almost 100% in bilingual/Finnish dominant areas

  • Minority languages with a right to maintain and develop the languages and the cultures related to these languages: Saami, Romani (and others)

  • In higher education obligation to give education in both languages

    • Stated (in the law) universities give education also or only in Swedish: Finland’s Swedish university Åbo Academy, Helsinki University, Sibelius Academy, Swedish School of Economics (Hanken), Theatre Academy

      Aalto University School of Art and Design and School of Technology

      2/3 of the new university officially bilingual

Language strategy work
Language strategy work languages

  • Language strategy/policy work in Finnish Universities initiated by a demand from Ministery of Education and Culture

    Appr. 50 % of the present universities (12) have documented and/or ratified language strategies

Language strategy work1
Language strategy work languages

  • The scope and the level of abstraction varies

    General guidelines and recommendations  Instructions for the choice of language in different contexts, requirements for language studies and/or language proficiency among students and staff

Aalto university language policy
Aalto university language policy languages


  • There are three working languages: Finnish, Swedish, and English.

  • Everyone is included in discussion.

  • Multilingualism is a strength.

  • Good communication skills are fostered.

Aalto university language policy1
Aalto university language policy languages

  • Strategic theses and guidelines stated

    • The result of a 2-year process, a team working on the policy guidelines, language expertice included (cf. Fishman 1994)

    • The owner of the policy is the president/rector of the university

  • Next step: a plan/map of implementation

    • The officially bilingual status of 2/3 of the university

    • The status of national languages

    • The definition of multilingualism and –culturalism

      • The definition of the parallel use of languages

    • The definition of good communication skills

Policies and practice
Policies and practice languages

  • Joseph Lo Bianco (2010):

    Ratified, documented language policies frozen past policies, made policies taken for granted

    the residual practice of here-and-now communication

    The relationship between continuing practice, unstated values and beliefs and convention on the one hand and the formal, declared policy, law, administration and regulation on the other

Language policy context languages

Fairclough 1997


Discourse practices

Sociocultural practice

Policy practice purser 2002
Policy languages practicePurser (2002)

  • The need for a functioning raison d’être

    • Bilingual  trilingual in Finnish, Swedish and English

  • Combining the specific, regional needs with a strong drive of internationalisation

  • Acknowledgement and management of different organisational, teaching and learning cultures

    • Finno-Swedish, English (/English as an educational and scientific lingua Franca culture ?)

    • Function specific instructions for different operations and operators (students, service and academic staff)

Kiitos tack

KIITOS! languagesTACK!