Language Teaching Policy Effects -- a Case Study of Finland

By Takala, Sauli | Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies, Annual 1998 | Go to article overview

Language Teaching Policy Effects -- a Case Study of Finland


Takala, Sauli, Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies


1. Emergence of foreign language teaching policy

Systematic attempts to define a national policy of foreign language teaching are of relatively recent origin. The growing need for such a policy is due to a number of developments. The fact that the teaching of foreign languages has expanded to encompass larger sections of the population including both younger and adult learners means that language teaching has become increasingly more institutionalized. Like any system, it requires systematic planning and evaluation.

In the United States the growing enthusiasm for teaching foreign languages in the elementary schools (FLES) led to the National Defence Education Act (1958) in the aftermath of Sputnik, and the Bilingual Education Act (1968). The "Strength Through Wisdom" commission report (1979) made a number of recommendations to improve the declining situation in language teaching. In Finland a national commission (1979) outlined a comprehensive plan for foreign language teaching policy for the next three decades. Another commission (1990) analysed what implications the recent changes in Europe had for the language teaching provision (see Takala 1993a, 1993b). A major language teaching policy document has recently been produced for The Netherlands (van Els -- van Hest 1992; van Els 1993).

It seems that a major development in education in general, and in language education as a specific instance, is a growing realization of them as social institutions, as social systems that serve some fundamental social desires, needs and functions. Language teaching serves basic communication needs, and as its importance tends to increase all the time, it acquires the characteristics of any institutionalized process. This means, among other things, that language education is becoming and needs to become more and more organized, i.e. roles and role relationships are specified in greater detail. Language teaching becomes more systematized, which means that tasks are also specified and it also entails that language teaching is not dependent on particular individuals.

Language teaching is not only the activity of individual teachers--it is a system of activities. In order to understand it as a system, we need to realize its boundaries, its central purposes and its level in a larger context. We must be aware of its various subsystems and of their interrelationships. For all this we need models to help us to describe and work out the practical consequences of different approaches.

One possible model (Takala 1979) is presented in Figure 1. It is an adaptation of similar models proposed by Mackey (1970), Stern (1970), Strevens (1977), Spolsky (1978) and others. All of these models seek to define what disciplines contribute to language education; what the tasks of theoreticians, applied linguists and practitioners are in language education; what factors/major variables interact to place language learning into its sociopolitical context. There seems to be a broad consensus that a general model for second/foreign language teaching theory and practice needs to be comprehensive (cover all possible situations); it needs to stress the principle of interaction (the interdependence of components) and the multifactor view (no single factor can predominate), and it needs to recognize that scholarship underlying language teaching is multidisciplinary (Stern 1983: 35-50).

According to the model above, and other similar models, formal language teaching in a school-type context takes place in a complex setting consisting of a number of levels. At level 1, the societal level, the need of language proficiency is manifested in a more or less clearly defined language teaching policy and it is recognized in the form of societal support for language teaching. At level 2, the school system level, we are concerned with the foundations of language teaching, its infrastructure: the organizational and administrative framework and the traditions of language teaching. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Language Teaching Policy Effects -- a Case Study of Finland
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.