Language skills

Skill to use language

The aim of this section is to learn how to identify and describe language skills, to learn to meet and understand linguistic and cultural diversity, and to gain an understanding of language skills needs in future studies and working life.

Assessment of your own skills

Self-assessment lists can be used to assess your own language skills.

Spoken language skills

This site will include spoken language skill landmarks from level A1 to C1.

Language CV

Different ways to put together your own language CV.

Language repertoire

The purpose of this section is to:

  • identify and present your own language repertoire
  • understand what all language skills are made up of.

Language reserve refers to the language skills of all the languages you use in everyday life, hobbies, working life and possible further studies. The language reserve includes the languages you speak at home and their dialects, the languages you study at school, the language skills you have acquired in your free time, and also the languages you use in your family, circle of friends and other communities.

Multilingualism does not require that he has learned to speak many different languages from birth. Instead, everyone learns and adopts different languages – for example, home languages, their dialects, school and leisure languages – from childhood. Any and all language skills are important.

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 while playing, reading or doing anything. For example, using a language can be conversation, listening, and reading, and languages can vary depending on the partner or situation you’re chatting in. In the next task, consider where and with whom you use the languages you’ve listed.

Language skills also include the ability to use language and languages in different situations and with different objectives. Depending on whether you’re messaging on social media, or writing a test response or work email (situations), you use language differently. You also use the language in different ways, depending on whether you want to summarize online news or influence readers’ opinions in blog post (goals).

In language studies, it is important to build cultural skills. Languages and cultures are tightly intertwined, but it is good to remember that they do not know national boundaries. For example, English, German, Mandarin and Farsi are spoken in several different corners of the world. In addition, there are also many similarities between speakers of different languages and those from different cultures, and a single speaker does not represent the whole group. At the heart of cultural know-how is therefore an understanding of how diverse culture is and an open and respectful approach to diversity.

Language and culture are also deepened in the Language, Culture and International Competence section.

Language awareness

Understanding the importance of one’s own language for different listeners from their point of view is important. The language that takes into account the listener’s or the reader requires language awareness, i.e. an understanding of how, for example, word choices and the message style affect the message and how the message is interpreted — or whether the message is understood at all.

Language awareness is also information about attitudes to be addressed to language communities, i.e. an understanding of how different languages are valued and evaluated in different communities. This is reflected, for example, when it is more acceptable to use other languages, which languages may have greater visibility, while other languages can be superseded either intentionally or unintentionally. Language skills are therefore also being able to adapt one’s communication and the language used based on who the recipient is. This is a case of language-conscious communication. 

  • Task xx

Language can also prevent or make it difficult for others to participate in discussion (discussion here in its broad sense, social issues, etc.). For example, using a science or knowledge-specific vocabulary and complex sentence structures can make it difficult to understand a message (e.g. social media, speech, e-mail). The language does not have to be an unknown language to the listener, the challenge can be when it uses vocabulary that is alien – whether it be engine parts, medical terms or the vocabulary used in agriculture.

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Language awareness supports study skills. For example, knowledge of the structure of different languages helps to learn new languages. In addition, different subjects learn specific types of text: for example, mathematics use a wide variety of graphs, images and notations, while history learns, for example, to read and interpret different source material. The development of learning skills is deepened in the section Language Learning Skills.

  • Assignment: How do I use the language in different subjects? What about learning in general?

Multilingualism in communication

Creative use of common languages for discussion partners can help in situations where the message would not otherwise be conveyed. Even with a limited level of language skills, it is of particular importance in the communication situation.

Multilingualism and creative language can be used, for example, when you want to get to know a new person. For example, if you have studied the basics of French and meet another person who knows French, even a brief exchange of belongings in French creates a positive atmosphere for the discussion.

Language choices can emphasise cohesion and common linguistic and cultural features. For example, when two people meet in the same dialect area, they can switch from the so-called common language to the dialect variant (e.g. turku dialect) to show that they are from the same place. You can use dialects to express your own linguistic and cultural identity even when your discussion partner is from a different region.

In addition, the parallel use of different languages in communication situations helps to smooth out the discussion more than sticking to one language. Multilingualism also adds a nice linguistic touch by supporting creative, lively and playful use of language.

Monolingual communication is actually more atypical than using multiple languages at the same time. However, it is important to be aware of the situations in which multilingual communication is permitted and when it is better to stick to one language.

Developing language skills

The purpose of this section is to:

  • identify and learn to describe your own language skills in different languages
  • identify language awareness as evolving language skills;
  • learn how to communicate language consciously.

Describing language skills

An important part of general upper secondary school language learning is to learn how to identify and evaluate your own language skills and to learn how to describe your skills to others, such as a potential employer.

A good way to describe language skills is to present concrete language situations in which you can cope with each language. In what situations can you communicate in different languages? Is it, for example, an exchange of everyday life, customer service situations or a more complex exchange of opinions and views?

In the following task, you can practice evaluating your language skills using the European Language Framework.

Language skills in future studies and working life

The development of language skills does not stop at the end of general upper secondary, but learning continues in possible future studies and working life. At the end of school, language skills will be developed in such a way that it communicates expertise in its field. For example, expertise includes knowledge of the vocabulary and text types in your field (such as reports, memos) and communication skills in and outside of the work community.

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