The Finnish Language Passport was originally a paper-booklet with basic phrases in Finnish and English, which a beginner level Finnish learner needs in everyday situations. The name Suomipassi comes from the autumn 2017 pilot where our students’ task was to collect stamps by speaking Finnish. Phrases and places to visit were chosen especially with the needs of the Exchange and Master’s degree students studying at the university in mind. During the pilot, the students spoke Finnish, for example, in Unica’s restaurants, at TYY’s office, at TYS’s office, or at the University Library and the staff stamped the passports. At the end of the course, students submitted the passports, and got either points for the final exam or the oral exam completed if they had enough stamps. A similar idea (starting page 48) has been used at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences.

Designer Jenni Laine:

The Finnish Language Passport was created because I wanted to give my students some concrete help in using Finnish more outside the classroom. The challenge for our students, surprisingly, is that they are not able to use Finnish in everyday life because the language is often changed to English. By switching to English, the daily matter is solved, but unfortunately it does not help the learning process of Finnish. It is important to note that the Finnish language does not have to be perfect to be used or understood. You can use clear Finnish or Finnish and English mixed. If a Finnish student doesn’t get a chance to use Finnish, the burning desire to learn Finnish stops. If a student stays in Finland for a longer time, knowledge of Finnish is essential for work and everyday life.

The goal of Suomipassi is that international students would feel welcomed to Finland, be able to manage in daily situations and have the courage to use Finnish when they need it. When students succeed in speaking Finnish, they can more easily feel like they belong to the community.

We want to warmly thank the students and companies who participated the autumn 2017 pilot and everybody else who contributed!