Tanja tell us something about yourself. Where do you come from, which is your job…
I am Tanja Tammimies and I am from Finland. I am a teacher of Finnish language at Oulun Aikuiskoulutuskeskus, the Adult Education Centre in Oulu, Finland. I have come to Florence through Leonardo da Vinci program to visit Istituto Europeo, to see the teaching method of language, culture and music and to know how the school works.
What kind of students do you have in your Centre in Finland?
I have many kinds of students, from everywhere in the world. Lots of husbands and wives of Finnish people, refugees, people who end up in Oulu for work and then decide to remain.
In your opinion, what are the most common problems in your job?
At the beginning it’s difficult, because Finnish is so different from most languages. Like here, we teach only in Finnish so it’s very hard for beginners, but after the start things normally go better. Of course, sometimes the motivation to study a very rare language can be a problem. In Finland you can survive with English, you could live 20 years in Finland without learning Finnish. For this reason it’s very difficult to find the real motivation to study the language of the country, even though I believe that in all countries to learn the language it is really the key to the society. So if you want to live in a country you should learn its language.
Could you tell us more about the project you came through?
The name of the project is Leonardo da Vinci Mobility Program. It is financed and coordinated by CIMO, the Centre for International Mobility in Finland. The coordinating school is in Tampere, then there are other participating schools, like mine. We got six positions for teachers, to go abroad to develop intercultural connections between our school and other schools and the professional experience of the teacher. For example, if I were teaching to cooks in Finland I could go to a cooking school here to learn Italian cooking. In my case, the aim is learning something new about my profession – language teaching - in another country.
Let’s talk about Florence. Have you ever been here before? What do you like most of the city, and of Italy in general?
Yes, I have been to Florence many times. I like Florence best, but that’s because I lived here before, so it’s familiar to me. Of Italy in general I like the culture of being open: Italians are more social than the Finnish, you are more in contact with people, more flexible with times, etc… I like the way of life, the way you enjoy food and spend time to prepare and eat it; in Finland we don’t have such food culture. Also, another quality Italians have is that they are proud of their culture and they know how to show it to others: in Finland it’s not the same, we are a bit shy about this. I also love art and Florence is unique in its “art content”: if you study art and architecture you must come to Florence, you cannot miss this city!
How was this experience at Istituto Europeo?
It has been great. By attending the Italian lessons as an auditor, I could feel as one of my students feel. In the classroom the teacher speaks only Italian and for the first time I had the chance to meet foreign students, with whom I could speak only in Italian because we didn’t have other languages in common. I like the school, the lessons and the teachers are great: it has been a very interesting experience.
Finally, do you have any advice to give to a young person who wants to become a teacher? Which qualities he/she should have?
To be open with people, to be ready to learn, experiment and give from yourself. The most important thing is to communicate with people, so a good teacher should have good communication skills… and lots of patience, too!
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