Killinki daycare center in Kouvola specializes in children with language support requirements and linguistic special needs. There are seventeen children at the center who speak Finnish as a second language, and activating them linguistically can be challenging.
The material is good. Children use the program together with an adult, and at the same time they learn how to use a tablet in a proper and safe way, says Pirjo Marttinen, Head of Killinki daycare center.
Marttinen says, that when it comes to children who speak Finnish as a second language, learning the language begins with listening and building trust. At first, a child learning Finnish is often very shy about using the language and bonds with adults first before venturing to communicate and play with other children. Marttinen thinks that digital language immersion works best exactly for these children with beginner-level language skills.
In Killinki, Moomin digital language immersion has been used by twelve 3-6-year-olds, who speak Finnish as a second language.
The experiences have been good. The games and figures are inspiring, and the program gives children moments of success which are important for a child building his/her self-esteem and self-image.
Encourages children to speak
Those who haven't spoken much earlier now have the courage to talk. The program also inspires children and gives them a sense of success. Sometimes children even high five when they succeed with an exercise, says kindergarten teacher Raija Virtanen, responsible for 3-5-year-olds.
Sofia has made a linguistic leap onto another level. She now has the courage to speak Finnish even outside daycare, says Angelina Petertsens, Sofia's mother.
Marttinen believes that the program lends itself well also to other children in need of linguistic support. And the number of these children is constantly increasing.
Moomin Language School transmits cultural heritage as well.
-The program shows the context, too. Children learn for example which aspects of Finnish culture are associated with a certain season. They also learn perception, colors and hand-eye coordination. For some children, even using a tablet is a new experience, Virtanen says.
Digital language immersion helps the personnel notice when a child needs more practice for instance in pronunciation, perception, color recognition or concentration.
City of Kouvola is satisfied, too
The city of Kouvola is also pleased. The digital reform is well under way, although nothing like this has been done in daycare centers before.
The program fits well into everyday life of daycare centers and no special arrangements have been needed. We are planning on extending the use of the program to all foreign children in daycare. Extending it to English teaching later on is also possible, says Head of early childhood education Helena Kuusisto.
Preschooler Sofia prefers Little My
Preschooler Sofia Petertsens, 6, has a favorite character in the digital language immersion service: Little My. Sofia, who speaks Russian as her mother tongue, has no trouble navigating and using Moomin Language School.
– This is fun to use. The memory games are the best, and usually I'm Little My, she comments.
Preschool teacher Jaana Salo says that the vocabulary and pronunciation of every child using the service has improved.
– Moomin Language School is part of our Finnish-as-a-second-language teaching. We have arranged our learning environment to support the preschoolers' Finnish skills and language development. Our children use the learning application with an adult, because interaction during the exercises is important, she explains.
Sofia's mother Angelina Petertsens has also noticed the development in her daughter's Finnish skills.
– Sofia has made a linguistic leap to a new level. She has courage to speak Finnish outside the kindergarten, and she has started to use many new words.