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Language, communication & technology

A model for teaching foreign languages in a digital world

The innovation includes useful tips for teaching languages, with a special emphasis on language education aimed at strengthening students' ability to work in different language environments.

Finland 100


HundrED has selected this innovation to

Finland 100






March 2017
We want to develop teaching languages by utilizing educational technology. We have planned language education with teachers of different languages by utilizing the special characteristics of each language.

About the innovation

What is it all about?

Language proficiency in communication is increasingly important in a globalizing world. Versatile language proficiency and readiness for different language environments are also required in working life. At the same time language education is becoming more digital.

In the curriculum of basic education, teachers are being encouraged to collaborate extensively with their colleagues. A communicative approach has been brought to the forefront of language education, i.e. the ability to act in an authentic language environment. This is achieved by developing students’ communication skills, among other things.

Helsingin Suomalainen Yhteiskoulu (SYK) school specializes in teaching foreign languages, such as French, German, Russian and English. The aim is to get children to use languages in innovative ways. Particular attention is paid to how a student can demonstrate their know-how and interests.

This innovation, developed by six foreign language teachers, provides methods and assignments suitable for all languages for other teachers wishing to develop foreign language education.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability


Language teaching is given a push forward in a more concrete direction by utilizing students’ own lives and interests as a basis for assignments.


Easing the use foreign languages in different contexts.


The model can also be used in municipalities and regions where language teachers don’t have counterparts.

Implementation steps

Have a talk with your colleagues and propose collaboration. Collaboration boosts language education and enables organizing the language events presented in step 5.

Cross boldly over subject boundaries: you can also begin a collaboration with a teacher of some other subject. You don’t have to start with big plans right away. The principal can make things easier by providing teachers some shared planning time.

Decide which assignments to complete with the students (step 4) and whether you’ll arrange the language event (step 5).

Find and awaken language awareness
It’s important for the teacher to observe the language environment of the school, i.e. the different languages spoken and written at the school.

Explore language environments with students open-mindedly and give room for students' own perceptions.

Appreciate and teach students to appreciate linguistic and cultural diversity. You can get started with familiar languages, but continue bravely towards the unknown. Be playful with languages.

Identify students’ skills and appreciate them
Let the students showcase their skills and interests. Trust that the students are competent and support their development.
Tips for language lessons
Some assignments and evaluation sets that can be used in all languages are listed below. When carrying out assignments electronically, find applications and programs that best suit you and your students (e.g. Book Creator).1. Create your own version of a text

Type the text on one page in your language of choice and another in your native language. Read and record the text in the foreign language. Play with your voice and tones.

2. Create your own zoo

Create your own zoo: search for an image of an animal, write its name, and describe it (big, small, dangerous, nice, brown, black etc.). Write and/or record the descriptions (for example, "the tiger is dangerous".)

3. Make your own country fact book

Find words, phrases, or phenomena (lederhose, bouillabaisse) and add the images you've found in your own portfolio with a short explanation. For example, make a spread in the book on Berlin, Paris or Moscow.

4. Fill in the teacher’s country fact book

Fill in the book template made by the teacher. Add information on languages, countries and cultures.

5. Introduce your own or imaginary family

Make a film of your own or your imaginary family, in which you tell as much as you can about each person.

6. Make a book of verbs

Select a regular or irregular verb. Illustrate it and type the verb conjugations. Read and record them. Work alone or with someone. Finally, combine all the verbs into a single book.

7. Explore classic fairy tales

Listen to fairy tales from other cultures and create a page in your book for them and the characters.

8. Introduce your toy

Make a video of your favorite toy and tell as many things about it as possible (name, age, family, skills, what it likes/doesn’t like etc.)

9. Present your school supplies

Take a picture of all your school supplies and record what you see. Describe objects as accurately as possible (for example "my sharpest pen is red".)

10. Describe your favourite things

Create a page that brings together photos of your favorite things (color, food, animal, clothing, country, sports etc). Describe your photos and record.

Language event
Multilingual language events are meant to raise language awareness by playing games.

They can be organized as part of language lessons. You can organize an event at your school, lasting ninety minutes and including around twenty students.

1. Let’s get to know each other!

Greetings and presenting one’s self in different languages included in the students’ curricula, for example, French, German and Russian. You can also include different greetings in other languages.

2. Let’s count!

Learn to count from one to ten in different languages. Play with numbers: examine the similarities and differences between numbers in different languages.

3. Let’s move!

Games and sports of different countries in multilingual groups: pétanque, folk dances, and yard games in French, or football in some other language.

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