In 2010–2011, the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences conducted a test to combine the travelogue presentations of the Kivipuro Occupational Centre and the Finnish language studies of students studying in the foreign-language degree programs of the University of Applied Sciences. The familiar “Armchair Travel” received additional value when the narrators were citizens of the target countries themselves.
International students organized “Armchair Travel” by narrating a travelogue, i.e. presenting their own home country or region in Finnish. The presentation included general information about the country and its culture, sports, sights, and cuisine. The audience was also given the opportunity to discuss the theme with the student.
The purpose of the assignment was to provide the students with experience from giving presentations. Students were also given a chance to use Finnish in a new, authentic communication situation. The students’ Finnish language studies corresponded to skill levels A1 and A2 during the pilot.
The presentations were open for all. Armchair Travel was advertised through local media.
During the academic year 2010–2011, the Kivipuro Occupational Centre and the students with a foreign background studying in the Degree Program in Business Management at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences developed traditional Armchair Travel into a tool that facilitates the integration of international students in their place of study.
The narrators of Armchair Travel at the Occupational Centre were second-year BBA students from the University of Applied Sciences, whose Finnish language studies correspond to skill levels A1 and A2. The students’ Finnish language course assignment was to describe their home country in Finnish to the residents of the Occupational Centre in the form of Armchair Travel.
The pilot was a positive success and will also be extended to other degree programs in the future. Cooperation with lower comprehensive school pupils, day care centers, and other educational institutions will be considered in the future. Armchair Travel provides students with versatile experience from using the Finnish language. Armchair Travel also widens the students’ network from a professional and a social perspective.
Phone interview with Project Manager Anne-Maria Mäkelä, Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences