Language immersion is a method in which the new language is used in a meaningful way in the child’s environment. Language immersion is based on the idea that the child will absorb a new language in the same way as they learned their home language, by hearing it in their environment and using it to communicate with others. The objective at Hansa is that the children at the setting learn English without a detrimental effect on their home language. The importance of the spoken language by the child’s guardians is emphasised the a child attends a language immersion setting. The guardians need to ensure sufficient use of rich language in every day situations. Occasionally parents consider using English at home to encourage their child to learn it quicker. This is not recommended at all, communication at home should always take place in the actual home language. It is important to remember that the home language is the language the child feels as their own the most.
Hansa Kindergarten follows the Espoo early childhood education and preschool curriculum. Children progress from Hansa into bilingual/English speaking education or into the local Finnish speaking school. Regardless of their education path, the children are likely to benefit in later life from the language skills they have acquired in the language immersion setting.
Absorbing the language
Learning within the setting starts through play and active routines. The child will understand the context of the spoken language when the message is also covered through pictures or miming. Using repetitive phrases in every day situations provides an opportunity to decipher the message. Children quickly learn the key phrases during circle times, meal times and getting dressed, for example. How quickly a child starts actively using English ranges widely between children.
In a language immersion setting the cooperation between parents and the staff is essential. It beneficial for the parents and staff to jointly discuss and think about the aims for the language development. The children will require support and encouragement at home with their home language development. Parents need to ensure that the home language vocabulary expands and that the two languages do not become mixed. We aim to ensure that each child can communicate in English to a high standard. It is also important to introduce different cultural aspects into the children’s lives. Halloween, St Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day, which are all celebrated in most of the English-speaking world, are celebrated at Hansa also. We don’t forget celebrating important days relating to the Finnish culture such as Kalevala Day, May Day and our Independence Day either. In addition we do celebrate religious holidays like easter and Christmas but remain respectful of the families’ own beliefs.
Early childhood education and preschool curriculum
We follow the Espoo early childhood education and preschool curriculum and the associated laws. In our teaching practice we aim to be sensitive and take into account the child’s individual needs, aims and interests. The early childhood teachers are responsible for the compiling of the individual early childhood education plans and preschool plans and updating them together with the parents.
Here is a link to the Espoo early childhood education curriculum: https://www.espoo.fi/fi-FI/Kasvatus_ja_opetus/Varhaiskasvatus/Lapsi_varhaiskasvatuksessa/
Here is link to the Espoo preschool curriculum: https://www.espoo.fi/fi-FI/Kasvatus_ja_opetus/Esiopetus/Lapsi_esiopetuksessa/Esiopetuksen_suunnittelu_ja_toteutus