Many ninth graders have almost no oral Swedish skills

Attitudes towards Swedish studies among secondary school pupils are increasingly negative. There is also room for improvement in language skills, with many pupils' oral Swedish skills being poor or almost non-existent in year 9.
Silmälasipäinen oppilas kirjoittaa kynällä vihkoon.

The oral Swedish language skills of almost all upper secondary school pupils do not improve in the last years of primary education. There are large differences between girls and boys in both attitudes and language skills, and there are also significant differences in language skills between schools, according to a doctoral study at the University of Oulu.

In his doctoral thesis, Eero Talonen, MA., studied how Swedish language skills developed among 7th-9th graders, how their attitudes and motivation towards Swedish language studies changed and what kind of oral communicative Swedish language skills the students had at the end of basic education.

The pupils studied Swedish as a second home language (B1) from the 6th grade onwards.

The results of the survey showed that pupils' attitudes towards Swedish were positive in the 7th grade but became more negative towards the end of upper secondary school. Only some pupils developed oral communicative language skills in upper secondary school, resulting in many pupils having low or almost no language skills in grade 9.

Girls' attitudes towards studying Swedish were more positive, and their scores on written word tests were better than boys'. On the oral tasks, girls and boys performed almost equally well. Interview data showed that boys' Swedish comprehension and communication skills developed better than girls' in grades 7-9. There were no significant differences in attitudes between schools, but there were significant differences in linguistic performance.

The results of the survey support in many respects the findings of recent national surveys but are only partially consistent with the objectives set out in the curriculum criteria. Teaching arrangements, learning environments, local curricula, learning materials and language pedagogies therefore need to be reformed and updated to consider the perspectives and changing needs of pupils, teachers and providers of teaching materials.

The study was carried out as a longitudinal case study. Written data was collected through student questionnaires, word tests and teacher questionnaire, and oral data through pronunciation and picture story tasks and student interviews. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used.

Last updated: 29.5.2024