Kielistigen (the Language Trail)
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What is Kielistigen?
Kielistigen is a model for language-enriched education in Nykarleby, a municipality in Finland where the majority’s mother tongue is Swedish. In day-cares and schools where Swedish is the language of instruction, Kielistigen takes the form of a “language trail” in Finnish, which stretches from early childhood education until the end of basic education (ages 5-15). Monolingual, bilingual and multilingual children alike can all embark on the language trail that is Kielistigen!
The goal of Kielistigen is to comprehensively stimulate communicative Finnish. The educational staff uses Finnish as a part of every-day activities. In practice, this means that the child takes part in various activities in Finnish every day for at least 20 minutes.
The purpose of Kielistigen is to create positive attitudes towards the Finnish language from an early age, and to give the children abundant possibilities to naturally take in and learn the Finnish language.
Kielistigen is also meant to encourage the educational staff (anyone who does not identify as a bilingual/Finnish-speaker) to dare to use education material, words and phrases in the Finnish language.
In fact, the name Kielistigen a combination of the Finnish word “kieli”, which means “language”, and the Swedish word “stigen”, which can be translated into “the trail”.
For the effective implementation of Kielistigen, a didactic strategy, educational material and teacher training services have been developed.
Finland has two national languages, Finnish (majority) and Swedish (minority). According to the national curriculum of Finland, language-enriched education is education where under 25% of the subject content is taught in a language other than the school’s language of instruction.