South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk) celebrates the European Day of Languages for the first time on 26 September. Students of Xamk have 55 different mother tongues. This autumn, students have been offered courses in 12 different languages. Most language courses are available for Open UAS students as well. Xamk’s Open UAS is the largest Open UAS in Finland.

Xamk provides degree programmes instructed in Finnish and English, and several individual courses instructed in Russian. It has been possible to study the basics of Chinese for two years on three campuses, and this year’s new opening is a course of Chinese Business Culture. In addition to more conventional language courses, students can improve their language skills in tandem studies, where two students with different mother tongues each teach their mother tongue in informal meetings to their partner. In the future, the selection of language courses in Finnish universities is expected to increase as a result of the KiVAKO co-operation project which involves 24 Finnish research universities and UAS’s.

On the European Day of Languages, Xamk provides a competition for staff and students where they can test their knowledge about languages.

Throughout Europe, 800 million Europeans are represented in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states and all are encouraged to discover more languages at any age, as part of or alongside their studies. This stems from the Council of Europe’s conviction that linguistic diversity is a tool for achieving greater intercultural understanding and a key element in the rich cultural heritage of our continent. Therefore, the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, promotes plurilingualism in the whole of Europe. At the Council of Europe’s initiative, the European Day of Languages has been celebrated every year since 2001 on 26 September – together with the European Commission.

The events of the Day of Languages at Xamk have been supported by Kymenlaakson Europe Direct Information Centre (EDIC), Leader Sepra.

Gayoon Kim (right), an exchange student on Kotka campus, takes her first steps in the Finnish language and teaches her mother tongue, Korean, to Annina Linkovuo. Annina, in turn, continues her Korean studies and teaches Finnish to Gayoon. Their first meeting took place in the first joint meeting of tandem partners. From this on, each pair will meet in the place and at the time their choose.