Svenska nu (Swedish now) is aimed at students and teachers from lower and upper secondary schools, though programmes are also available for students from polytechnics (universities of applied sciences) and universities in Finland. The goal is to motivate Finnish-speaking young people in Finland to learn Swedish
and familiarise them with the Swedish speaking youth culture from both Sweden and Finland. The project began in 2007 and it is co-ordinated by the Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre. It is financed by the governments of Finland and Sweden as well as several non-profit foundations and private enterprises.
The project seeks to motivate young people to learn Swedish by making language learning fun and useful through practical and innovative teaching pedagogies
. As noted by Kai Jaskari, Programme Director at the Hanasaari Cultural Centre, “Svenska Nu’s ‘recipe’ is very successful, we combine language, culture and activity based learning in the classroom”. The project has developed numerous ways of combining language learning with other subjects, such as music (learning Swedish through a rap music workshop led by a Swedish speaking rap artist), history (learning Swedish words during a history lesson dealing with Nordic countries), and home economics (cooking competition held by a well-known, Swedish speaking TV chef). Language learning offered by Svenska nu is also linked to practical activities (i.e. physical exercise class, speeches by famous Swedish speaking authors, artists, actors or journalists) to increase young people’s ability and confidence to use Swedish in real life situations. Svenska nu also supports language teachers, mainly teachers of Swedish language, by offering opportunities for continuing professional development.
In 2010, the project reached some 250,000 students of which 58,000 participated in Svenska nu lessons/activities. The project website which has interactive language exercises and games for teachers and students is visited by around 5,000-6,000 people each month.
The project design and delivery team at Hanasaari have built the project model around opportunities for continuous learning and monitoring. All the project activities are evaluated through surveys of teachers and students; this allows the team to evaluate the impact and identify areas in which further work is required. The project has also taken part in national research projects / evaluation on language learning (e.g. TOKI project and Svenska i toppen project carried out by the University of Helsinki) and the project activities and products have been developed in close collaboration with experts from the Finnish universities training Swedish language teachers. The project team also participates in all national meetings and training days of Swedish language teachers in order to hear their ideas for potential new activities and obtain feedback on existing ones. This has been instrumental in acquiring the trust and buy-in of teachers; without their support, the project would not have been able to achieve significant impact at classroom level.
Key success factors for the project include having a broad project partnership at practical and strategic levels, especially through the involvement of (language) teachers and their representatives in the design and continuous improvement of the project. It has also been important to acquire their buy-in so that teachers trust ‘the Svenska nu brand’ and thereby utilise their materials and lessons. Svenska nu has also ‘recruited’ (on a voluntary basis) highly influential representatives from the political, entertainment and business worlds to act as ambassadors to the project. Examples of such figures include the former prime minister of Finland. Finally, it is vital to ensure that all the classroom activities are of high quality and delivered by professionals.
Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Center,
FIN-02100 Espoo, Finland