The Role of Everyone’s Own Language in Integration – New Handbook Published

Helsinki – IOM Finland has produced a handbook Supporting Integration With One’s Own Language (in Finnish: Oma kieli kotoutumisen tukena, in Swedish: Det egna språket som stöd vid integration). The handbook takes a two-way approach to language and integration: the languages of both the people integrating into Finland and the municipality workers matters. The languages of the people integrating into Finland are seen as a resource to enable integration. Similarly, the language used by the professionals working in various basic services is seen as an important tool for supporting integration.

Every person integrating into Finland speaks or communicates in some language – often more than one. “In this handbook, we look at language skills as a resource to support integration, not only as its goal,” explains Minna Savolainen, IOM Finland’s specialist in integration support. “Moreover, the language used by the professionals in municipalities affects integration,” she continues.

The handbook is designed for municipality workers in basic services and everyone interested in supporting integration. It has been created within the Navigator project, together with our partners Finnish Refugee Council and Diaconia University of Applied Sciences. It has been published with the support of the European Union's Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).

Information about Finland in one’s own language

The first part of the book covers Pre-Departure Orientation (Cultural Orientation), which is organized for Finland-bound quota refugees before their arrival in Finland, as well as Civic Orientation, which can be organized in the Finnish municipalities after arriving in Finland. Both orientations are given in the participants’ own language and draw on the migrants’ language skills. This ensures that vital information on the Finnish society reaches people at the earliest possible stage.

A look at language and communications skills in professional contexts

As integration is always a local process, the handbook begins and ends with looking into the municipalities. Municipality workers play an important role in successful integration.

Every professional in the municipality can support integration in their daily interactions with the clients. Language and communication skills are particularly important. The handbook deals with language awareness and language related rights, attitudes and power. It provides perspectives on exploring one’s own professional communication and helps to discover one’s strengths in supporting integration.

One chapter in the handbook is dedicated to public service interpreting, because it is a particularly important topic within integration. Public service interpreting affects always the interaction between professionals and clients. It is a special skill which requires practice and guidance.

Download the handbook

Supporting integration with one’s own language has been published in Finnish and Swedish in both printable and digital versions. You can share the handbook freely with your colleagues and in your networks and use it as training material. Download the handbook here. The English version will be released in the spring - stay tuned!


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