“Salaam!” the pupils shout.
"Hale shoma chetor hast?" asks teacher Zahra Houshangi. It means, “How are you?”
It is the time for a lesson in Persian at the Central Espoo School. The pupils take out their books and start to work on their grammar exercises.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
The five pupils of different ages each work according to their skill levels.
Sisters Mursal, 15, Sarah, 12, and Muhadisa Alimy, 10, moved to Finland from Afghanistan ten years ago. They have studied Persian from the first grade. They learned to read and write the language in Finland, thanks to language lessons at their school.
“It is important to speak your own language with your family”, Mursal says.
“Right. When you know Persian, you can understand what they’re saying on TV”, shouts little sister Muhadisa.
Education in the home languages of immigrant pupils is available in about 40 different languages in the Helsinki region. Two hours a week are dedicated to the purpose.
The tight economic situation has reduced the variety of languages on offer, says Sari Korkalainen, a teaching consultant for the City of Helsinki.
“We have had to reduce the number of teaching groups, and new ones cannot be offered”, Korkalainen says.
Often the home language classes are not offered at the school where the pupils have most of their classes, and they have to travel, sometimes to a neighbouring municipality, to avail themselves of them. The home language lessons are held in the afternoons after other lessons.
Source: HS (English)