Multilingualism in Finnish schools: policies and practices
This article provides an overview of multilingualism in Finnish schools. The focus is on the experiences gathered from the teachers of plurilingual students, i.e. students from immigrant backgrounds. The data in our study were collected by administering a web questionnaire, and the topics covered, for example, the status of languages and the teaching arrangements tailored for plurilingual students. In addition to reacting to the questionnaire’s statements, the respondents could freely comment on any of the topics, which enriched the quantitative data by offering many useful perspectives. Several respondents reported that during their working careers, noticeable progress has been made accommodating plurilingual students. On the other hand, the results showed that several challenges still remain, such as assuring a more uniform provision of L1 and L2 instruction. In some regions of Finland, such programmes have been functioning well, but in others, administrators are only just awakening to the increasing multilingualism in their schools.