Practical School Education Program Students on Overseas Training Exercise in Finland
Twelve graduate and undergraduate students from the Osaka Kyoiku University Second Faculty Practical School Education Program from November 25–December 8 visited Finland on an overseas training exercise. Accompanied by two faculty members, the students stopped in on classes at the University of Jyväskylä and its elementary school affiliate and at the training school attached to Åbo Akademi University. The delegation also visited Kullavik Primary School in neighboring Sweden.
The Practical School Training Program every year holds an overseas training exercise led by graduate students in the Fresh Teachers Course. This year marked the third time it was carried out in northern Europe.
This project makes use of content and language integrated learning (CLIL) theory, with English being used to conduct classes mainly in science and mathematics. As a program that also helps its participants to develop their literacy in foreign cultures and their ability to teach in English, the students have received scholarships for four years running from the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO). Furthermore, it also functions as an initiative under the HATO Project, thanks to the support it receives from Practical School Training Program faculty.
The University of Jyväskylä is home to Finland's largest faculty of education, with master's and doctoral instruction carried out in English. On this visit, the visitors from OKU learned from Professor Tarja Nikula—who does CLIL research herself—about the foreign languages program at the university's Centre for Applied Language Studies as well as CLIL methods of discourse analysis.
Professor Kazuko Kashiwagi, the delegation's leader, made a presentation about the achievements at OKU in overseas training exercises that have applied CLIL approaches. Following this, graduate students in the group majoring in physics and English presented experiments about "Soap Film and Surface Tension" and "Capacitors: The Structure of Condensers." At the Åbo Akademi University training school, the delegation observed classes in all subjects with Principal Gun Jakobbson—who was invited this past summer to speak at OKU—directing the program. Five classes using the CLIL approach were also conducted at all the schools visited, with each attracting the interest of the local children attending. The OKU students got feedback from the teachers in charge afterward, bringing a fulfilling run of eight training exercises to a close.
Professor Kashiwagi noted that the revised curriculum slated to be adopted by Finland in 2016 was drawing attention from around the world. She added her sense that the ideals it contained about the school being a place that as a matter of course is sensitive to social trends and changes, and about how teachers who independently innovate in the classroom can affect reforms, are something shared in the CLIL practices of the members of the project.