Language, culture and internationalisation

Translation draft

In upper secondary education, you learn the skills to function in a linguistically and culturally diverse world. The aim is to support your growth as an active global citizen with the knowledge, skills and will to engage in debate and action on global issues.

The aim is to

  • to identify what is meant by internationalism and global and cultural competence, what you already know about these issues and what you can do to extend it
  • learn how to articulate and discuss issues related to these topics, for example when applying for jobs and postgraduate studies.


  • Initial reflection on language, culture and internationalism
Ympyräkuvan uloimmalla kehällä globaali toimijuus: Minä ja maailma. Miksi kieli- ja kulttuuriosaamisella on väliä, kun puhutaan globaalista yhteistyöstä?
Keskimmäisellä kehällä on kotikansainvälisyys: Minä ja yhteisöni. Mitä kansainvälisyyteen liittyvää osaamista opit arjessasi tai lähipiirissäsi?
Sisimmällä kehällä on kielellinen ja kulttuurinen identiteetti, eli minä ja identiteettini. Kenen silmillä katsot maailmaa ja mistä  näkökulmasta lähdet kansainvälistymään?

This section proceeds in the order shown in the figure, from the core outwards. It starts from what happens between the ears, i.e. from one’s own thoughts and feelings, against which everything one encounters in everyday life, such as language, opinions and behaviour, is mirrored. What knowledge, attitudes and values make up your identity? What are the issues related to languages, cultures, diversity of people and circumstances – living in the midst of multiple internationalism?

We then move on to look at communities, such as family, friends and hobby friends. Communities can also be virtual: what groups or communities can you join or follow on social media?

What are the skills needed to be part of these different communities, what do you do well, what do you need to know more of – yours or someone else’s? What are the language skills involved? And what kinds of situations involve what you might call “cultural differences”? The diversity of people, communities, languages and perceptions becomes apparent at the very latest when people do not understand or are not understood.

The outermost frame of the picture looks at internationalism from the perspective of global cooperation and considers one’s own responsibility and opportunities to make a difference. Here, we talk about global citizenship, i.e. efforts to develop the world in a more just, responsible and sustainable direction. Different ways of making a difference are already taught in primary school, for example by participating in a school sustainability group or by taking part in different kinds of voluntary work, such as a taxi driver. Global citizenship skills can also be acquired through participation in international activities at school, where it is important to pay attention to skills acquired through international exchange studies or school international projects, for example. It can also be acquired through socialising with friends or working with people from different cultures and linguistic backgrounds.


  • Diverse language skills as an asset
Experiences can be recorded in the language profile
  • about international cooperation projects in your own upper secondary school
  • international encounters during summer work and leisure time
  • a (virtual) exchange study period.

    How did you use the languages you learned, did you learn something new or did you end up correcting your own perceptions of culture?
International competence through mobility

There are many ways to build up internationality and related skills. Internationalisation is often associated with transnational activities or exchange studies (mobility), although there are many ways of doing this. In upper secondary school, international cooperation can be done, for example, by volunteering in various international organisations in Finland, by participating in international cooperation projects in your own upper secondary school from your home computer or by applying for a job in an international company in Finland.

At the heart of international competence, however, is an understanding of the kind of knowledge that international activities – such as learning to work with people or travelling – bring with them. Does it provide insight into how culture manifests itself in everyday activities and interactions, or does it offer only a superficial picture of the culture of the host country?


  • Perspectives on mobility

Me and my identity

Understanding your own identity is the basis of linguistic and cultural competence: From what starting points, attitudes and values do you approach situations where you encounter something new and alien to you? What languages and cultures make up your identity?


  • My cultural competences
  • Family tree observation
  • My language and culture

Me and my community

Communities (e.g. school, family, friends, hobby groups) are increasingly diverse, with no one member of the community representing just one culture. Cultural identity is built from pieces of many different cultures, which are adopted through interaction with different people and communities. Understanding the meaning and value of diversity requires curiosity and open-mindedness towards what is new or alien to one’s own community, i.e. otherness. Understanding diversity also requires the recognition of cultural stereotypes and simplifications and the ability to break free from them.

This section aims to foster an understanding of how language can encourage or restrict one’s own or others’ opportunities to participate and contribute to society. It will also highlight ways of interacting even when there is no common language.


  • Language and culture in interaction situations
  • Multilingualism
  • Internationalism at home

Mediation, ie constructive interaction

Multilingual and multicultural competences support mediation skills. Mediation is the ability to communicate between different parties even when they are unable, for one reason or another, to convey messages (ideas, text, anything to say) directly to each other. Mediation therefore refers to the means of constructive interaction that can be used to facilitate encounters and interactions between different parties.

Mediation is needed when communication breaks down for reasons such as:

  • the interlocutor uses language, vocabulary or a register of language that the other is not familiar with
  • the interlocutor is communicating on issues about which the other has less knowledge. In such cases, the conversation is hampered by the other party’s lack of knowledge, which may be due to factors such as educational background, developmental stage (for example, when talking to a young child) or life experience.
  • there are cultural differences between the two parties
  • there are other constraints in the conversation, such as hearing, vision or even fatigue.

    The descriptors of mediation can help you become aware of and develop your own constructive interaction skills. The areas of mediation are highlighted in the infographic below.
Taulukko julkaisusta Kieli koulun ytimessä. Mediaation keinot, eli miten voisin helpottaa ymmärrystä. Mediaatio vuorovaikutuksessa eli miten voisin edistää keskustelua, jossa jokaista kuunnellaan ja jokainen otetaan mukaan. Mediaatio tiedon välittämisenä ja kehittämisenä, toisin sanoen, mikä kaikki on mediaatiota?
Mediaation osa-alueet. Sovitettu taulukosta Takala, S., 2015: 52: julkaisu.


Mediation as language use

Descriptors of multilingual and multicultural competences

The figure below shows what multilingual and multicultural competence is. Successful and effective interaction in linguistically and culturally diverse situations is built on the basis of the skills defined in the figure.

The multilingual and cultural competence descriptors help you to monitor your own competence in relation to the skills of different languages, their sharing and application. Multilingual and cultural competences can be the ability to use one’s own cultural or multilingual competences to produce and interpret information, as well as the ability to use multilingualism in interaction situations. Mediation is also part of multilingual and cultural competence.

Descriptors help to understand the skills needed to operate in linguistically and culturally diverse communities.

Monikielisen ja kulttuurisen osaamisen kuvaimet koostuvat taidoista hyödyntää kulttuurista osaamista tiedon tuottamisessa ja tulkitsemisessa, taidoista hyödyntää monikielisyyttä tiedon tuottamisessa ja tulkitsemisessa, sekä taidosta hyödyntää monikielisyyttä vuorovaikutustilanteissa.


Me and the world

High school studies support the growth of an active global citizen with the knowledge, skills and will to influence global phenomena such as the climate crisis or biodiversity loss.

In the tasks below, the aim is to

  • identify and understand their own starting points for internationalism
  • identify and understand the different forms of internationalism
  • find ways and opportunities to use their language skills as a tool for cooperation and influence in global communities
  • to understand the importance of international cooperation in building a sustainable future and promoting democracy and to find opportunities for such cooperation.


  • International and multicultural organisations
  • International and multinational cooperation

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