The Suomipassi pilot was conducted in co-operation with the Centre for Language and Communication Studies and the Student Union (TYY) of the University of Turku. Finnish as a Foreign Language University teacher Jenni Laine contacted Student Union’s International Affairs Specialist Satu Nurmi and then it started to happen! Satu Nurmi contacted companies close to the university and finally got up to 11 partners in the experiment. The partners were K-Market Puhakka, Campus Sport, Unica, Turku Student Village Foundation, Turku University Library, Turku City Library, YTHS, Kansallinen kirjakauppa (book store), Ekotori, Three Beers and Portti. After that, Jenni Laine designed the contents of the passport and TYY’s Communications Officer Frida Pessi made the graphic design for the printed passport. TYY published and printed the passports for the pilot.
Suomipassi was piloted in three Finnish language courses: Beginners’ I (Level A1), Beginners’ Course II (Level A1.2) and Text and Vocabulary Course (Level A2-B1). In all three courses, the students’ task was the same: they had to collect 10 stamps for speaking Finnish during the autumn. Students on Beginners’ course II went on excursions at the end of the lessons to several passport sites because the hypothesis was that the passport works best at that level. The teacher went along to help and observe the situations. It was great to see the students’ enthusiasm, excitement and the moment when the communication was successful and the message went through. Can there be a better feeling of language learning? It was especially important that the partners were informed in advance and encouraged to use clear Finnish in the situations so the students could get a positive experience of speaking Finnish.
In Beginners’ Course I and the Text and Vocabulary course, the passport was used as an additional resource and students used it more independently. As expected, the content of Suomipassi was too easy for students on the Text and Vocabulary course. In Beginners’ Course I, some students didn’t collect all 10 stamps e.g. due to lack of time. This goes to show that the student gets the best benefit of the passport when it is used as a part of the Finnish course and the student is committed to using it.
At the end of the semester, passports were collected from students for statistical purposes and for checking the stamps. By collecting 10 stamps, students received extra points in the final exam or they could compensate the oral exam.