18/11/2021 | Written by Adéla Nováková 

International Does Not Always Mean English Language

Team leader Maija Niskavirta from International House Tampere opened the discussion about advantages of multicultural teams and diverse working languages in (Finnish) companies.  

International working environment is a perfect way for learning from each other 

Multicultural environment can be very fruitful in learning from each other. “I have heard from, for example nurses how much they learnt from other nurses coming from a culture where elderly people are very much cherished and appreciated and it changed their ways of working as well.”This example from health care is one of the clear highlights of how an international team can learn from each other and draw on the best characteristics from diverse cultures.  

Photo: Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere

International working community does not always mean working in English language  

The diverse or international working community does not necessarily mean that the working community becomes English speaking. “A company might change its working language to English only if the company sees it as beneficial to achieving the company’s goals better. And many companies are considering its pros and cons currently. But I’d like to point out that not all international teams are English speaking teams. Rather, the work community can be multilingual. Work communities usually use the language that is most appropriate for the job and that is the language used towards the client. And sometimes this language is even other than Finnish, Swedish or English. 

Learning a language at a professional level is a continuous process  

Maija highlights the importance of being inclusive and understanding toward variety of cultures and different languages in work communities. “I think we should talk more about “language-conscious” work communities and multilingual work communities. More understanding is needed of what learning a language requires from an adult. Do we understand what it requires from a Finn who must adopt English as a working language or from an international expert who is expected to start using Finnish as their working language?” We need to find ways how the recruitment or external and internal communication make language conscious choices to make every employee feel a full member of the work community.  

Working in a Finnish-speaking company is a great environment for learning relevant Finnish language  

We have seen cases of non-Finnish speakers becoming a team member of a Finnish working community and learning the language step by step. One of the practices was communicating in English language with the one worker but keeping the working language Finnish. This approach supported by regular language lessons showed very positive results of quick adapting and understanding Finnish on the worker’s side throughout the time.  

Supporting the team members on their learning journey might be an opportunity to build a stronger team as well.  

Being supportive for the Finnish language learner might be the key for successful understanding of Finnish. “In our team we are happy to support our Finnish-language learners and help them on their journey to Finnish proficiency. So, every week we have a Finnish coffee, where we speak in easy Finnish or go through the topics the learners need to practice.”.   

The writer Adéla Nováková worked as International House Tampere communications intern. The International House Tampere is a Single Service Point for supporting Internationals with living, working, studying and connecting with Local Employers.

International House Tampere
Service hours: Monday-Friday 9.00–16.00

Email international@tampere.fi
Tel. +358 41 730 2769
Rautatienkatu 10, 33100 Tampere

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