Language skills

Translation draft

Kieliminää ympyröi viisi osa-aluetta: minä kielenoppijana, kielivarantoni, kielellinen ja kulttuurinen moninaisuus, kielitietoisuus, sekä kielitaitoni. Osa-alueet kattavat osattujen kielien lisäksi esimerkiksi kielellisen ja kulttuurisen identiteetin, miten kieltä ymmärretään, tulkitaan ja arvotetaan, sekä kielen käyttö vaikuttamisessa.
Kielenoppijan kieliminä

In this section the aim is

  • to understand what language skills are made up of
  • to identify and present your own language repertoire
  • to identify and learn to describe your plurilingual skills
  • to identify language awareness as a component of language skills and to learn how language awareness can be made use of in communication
  • to gain an understanding of language needs in further studies and in working life.

Language repertoire

Language repertoire is a term used to refer to all the languages you use in your daily life, hobbies, work and possible further studies. It includes the languages and dialects you speak at home, the languages you learn at school, the languages you learn in your leisure time, and also the languages you use in your family, friends and other communities.

Multilingualism does not require you to have learned to speak several languages since birth. Instead, everyone learns and adopts different languages – including the languages of their homes, their dialects, the languages they learn at school and in their leisure time, from childhood onwards. Even a basic knowledge of languages is important.


  • All my language skills

Different languages are used in different ways, in different situations and with different people. You use some languages at home with your family, some with your relatives, some when playing, reading or doing other activities. Using a language can be talking, listening and reading, for example, and languages can vary depending on the person or situation you are talking to. In the following exercise, think about where and with whom you use the languages you have listed.


  • Using languages ​​in different situations

Language skills also include the ability to use language and languages in different situations and for different purposes. You use language differently depending on whether you are communicating on social media, for example, or writing a test answer or work email (situation). You also use language differently depending on whether you want to summarise an online news story or influence readers’ opinions with a blog post (objective).


  • Language in social media
  • Watch a video on fluency at different skill levels: Youtube

Language studies also build cultural competence. Languages and cultures are intertwined, and it is worth remembering that they know no national borders. For example, English, German, Mandarin Chinese and Farsi are spoken in many different parts of the world, as mother tongues, second languages and foreign languages. At the heart of cultural competence is therefore an understanding of the diversity of cultures and an open and respectful approach to diversity.

Language and culture are discussed in more detail in the section on Language, culture and international competence.

Language awareness

The way in which language is used plays an important role in an interaction. Using language in a way that is attentive to the listener or reader requires linguistic awareness, i.e. an understanding of how, for example, the choice of words and the style of the message affect what is said and how the message is interpreted – or whether the message is understood at all.


  • Adapting language (1/2)

Language awareness is also knowledge about attitudes towards language communities, i.e. an understanding of how different languages are valued and appreciated in different communities. This is reflected, for example, in the fact that some languages are more acceptable to use and may have greater visibility, while others may be denigrated, either intentionally or unintentionally. Linguistic competence is therefore also about being able to adapt the way you communicate and the language you use according to who the recipient of the message is. This is language-aware communication.


  • Language awareness in everyday life

Language can also be used to prevent or discourage others from participating in the conversation. For example, the use of scientific or knowledge-specific vocabulary and complex sentence structures can make it difficult to understand a message, whether it is a web publication, a TV appearance or an email. It is not necessary for the language to be ‘foreign’, but it is sufficient for it to contain vocabulary that is unfamiliar to you. Foreign words can include engine parts, medical terms or agricultural vocabulary.


  • Language awareness and jargon

Language awareness supports study skills. For example, knowing the structure of different languages helps you learn new languages. In addition, different subjects teach you about their specific text types: for example, mathematics makes extensive use of graphs, pictures and notation, and history teaches you how to interpret and critically reflect on different sources.


  • Language awareness and the languages of the subjects

The development of learning skills will be explored in more detail in the section on language learning skills.

Plurilingual communication

For interlocutors, making creative use of common languages can help in situations where the message would otherwise not get across. In such cases, even a limited knowledge of the language is of particular importance in a communication situation.


  • Everyday languages

Multilingualism and creative language use can be used, for example, to break the ice when meeting new people. For example, if you have studied basic French and meet another person who speaks French, even a brief exchange in French can create a positive atmosphere in a conversation.


  • Making the most of basic language skills

Language choices can emphasise cohesion and shared linguistic and cultural features. For example, when two people from the same dialect area meet, they may switch from the so-called common language to a dialect variant (for example, the Turku dialect) to show that they come from the same place. Using a dialect can also be a way of expressing one’s linguistic and cultural identity when the person you are talking to comes from a different region.


  • Adapting language (2/2)

Using different languages in parallel in communication situations helps to smooth the conversation more than sticking to one language. Multilingualism encourages creative, lively and playful language use.


  • Multilingualism on video

In fact, monolingual communication is more atypical than using several languages at the same time. However, it is important to be aware of the situations in which multilingual communication is allowed and when it is better to stick to one language.


  • Multilingualism in situations

Developing language skills

Describing language skills

An important part of language learning in upper secondary school is learning to identify and assess your own language skills and to describe your own skills to others, such as employers.

A good way to describe your language skills is to give concrete examples of language situations in which you have mastered each language. In what situations are you able to communicate in different languages? For example, are you exchanging everyday news, customer service situations or more complex exchanges of opinions and views?


  • Levels of language skills in situations

In the following exercise, you can practise assessing your language skills using the European Framework of Reference for Languages.


  • Describing language skills

The scale for describing levels of language proficiency (LOPS 2019) can be found on the ePerformance website of the Finnish National Board of Education.

Language skills for future studies and working life

Language development does not stop at the end of upper secondary school, but continues in further studies and working life. At the end of upper secondary school, language skills are developed in a way that communicates expertise in your field. Expertise includes, for example, knowledge of the vocabulary and types of texts in your field (such as reports, memos) and the ability to communicate within and outside the workplace.


  • Setting objectives for language skills (1/2)
  • My future language needs
  • Setting objectives for language skills (2/2)
  • Internationality in postgraduate studies and in working life
  • Multilingual video application

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