In addition to subjects taught in Finnish, Cygnaeus School offers children the opportunity of learning subjects in English, beginning with grade 1 through grade 6. The curriculum and the goals of the English Classes are the same as for pupils studying in Finnish. The English-based curriculum is implemented by lessons taught primarily in English. The goal is, that by the end of elementary/primary school, children are bilingual (English/Finnish) and are able to continue studying in either a Finnish or English school. Lessons are taught by classroom teachers who have the relevant qualifications required for them to do this effectively.
Studying subjects in English is primarily meant for children whose native language is English. Any remaining available places in English classes can be filled by Finnish children who have lived outside of Finland, non-Finnish children residing temporarily in the greater Pori area, children whose future includes residing outside of Finland for a period of time and children who demonstrate adequate learning skills for receiving instruction in English. At entry level, as part of the admission process, children are tested by faculty members.
English instruction at Cygnaeus School occurs by combining the language itself with teaching subjects. English class lessons follow the principles of CLIL (Content and Learning Integrated Learning). The curriculum and goals of English classes are the same as those of pupils studying in Finnish at our school.
When implementing the curriculum, emphasis on language shows in the English Classes, when subject content and cross–curricular themes of various subjects are studied using both English and Finnish. An exception, however, is made for pupils who are of a different nationality or pupils who have returned to Finland after living abroad. In the case of these pupils, some subjects will be studied using a personal learning plan (HOPS) tailored to best suit the needs of the pupil. This defines which parts of the curriculum differ in order to enable the child to reach his/her individual goals and aims. In cases like these, lessons are taught in English as much as possible, particularly in the early stages of education at Cygnaeus School.
The goal is that the cross-curricular themes which are taught in Finnish are explained to the children of the other nationalities in English or else they are afforded the opportunity to study the subject material independently. Books used in teaching are either in Finnish or English depending upon the subject, cross – curricular theme and resources available. Teachers make the decisions as to which resources to use. In addition, teachers create their own teaching materials. Learning material sources include books, hands-on learning, the Internet, DVDs, videos, computer software and more. By interchanging the language used in teaching a teacher can ascertain that pupil can manage basic concepts in both languages. It is necessary to be cognizant of the fact that learning in a language that is not native is much more challenging. This means that both children and parents need to make a commitment to studying in English. Finnish is taught as its own subject as it is taught to normal Finnish classes. For those who are learning Finnish as a foreign language two hours of specially tailored instruction are given on average per week.
The goal of the English Classes is to encourage a pupil to learn English language and to be able to use that language, as well as his/her native language, Finnish, fluently in everyday situations. This means that pupil will develop skill and confidence in using English at a grade–appropriate level in terms of vocabulary, idioms and structure. This way a pupil will have a solid base upon which to continue studies that require knowledge of English. The overall goal is for a pupil to develop a multicultural outlook and approach to doing things.
Pupil Selection / Admission Policy
English classes are meant for pupils who, together with their parents, are interested in the opportunities and challenges offered through bilingual studying and who are ready to work diligently toward achieving goals. The pupils to be accepted into the English classes will be required to have a positive approach to learning, good concentration skills and adequate verbal communication skills. All children at entry level will be required to take an entrance test administered in the Spring preceding the academic school year. A special education teacher and two (or three) English Class teachers will administer the test and then assess the test results. Seventeen students will be selected to start at entry level for the autumn. Studying in the English Class first grade will begin in the year that the child turns 7 years of age (POL 25§). A child is entitled to start studying a year earlier if he/she has been evaluated by a psychologist and has the required papers (POL 27§). When moving to Finland from abroad, a pupil will begin at a grade level in accordance with his/her age level. In some rare instances the pupil may be transferred to another grade level. Transfers to English Classes should occur at the beginning of the school academic year and are considered on a case-by-case level.
The suitability of studying in the English Classescan be tested at different English class grade levels. In the event that studying in the English classes becomes too demanding, or problems evolve in different subject areas, then a recommendation can be made to transfer the pupil to a Finnish class.
The content and the goals of the curriculum in the English classes are the same as for Finnish classes. Teaching takes place bilingually so thatlanguage appropriate to the situation and purpose is used. English language learning then occurs during school routines and through different subjects.
Evaluation follows the same criteria as used by Cygnaeus School. Report cards are issued in Finnish as a standard. Report cards can be translated into English if the school which the pupil will next attends so requires.
Cooperation between School and Home
Since the English Classes are a part of a public Finnish school, the majority of correspondence and the school web site is in Finnish. Important correspondence will be translated into English when deemed necessary. Meetings for parents are primarily in Finnish. Non-Finnish speaking families will naturally receive a summary of these events in English. They can also discuss school- related matters with the teacher in English. The English Classes have their own blog where it is possible to follow English Class activities. The url is http://englishclassescygnaeuspori.wordpress.com/