The Finnish Language School in Zürich turns 40!


The Finnish Language School in Zürich, founded in 1981 and run by an association, has seen its numbers of students growing over the years up to over 100 Swiss-Finnish students per school year.  The fact that its location Zürich is a popular place among Finns coming to Switzerland, and the important pioneering work of the early years has established the place as the largest Finnish Language School in the country. With the support of the students’ parents and other volunteers we run both a library and a café at the school. Whenever possible, we are happy to participate in local Swiss-Finnish events, such as the Christmas market.

In the multicultural Zürich region, the Finnish Language School teachers are required to qualify as teachers of home language and culture (“Heimatliche Sprache und Kultur”). This qualification facilitates cooperation with the local schools: the Finnish Language School can use teaching rooms and the students’ grades for Finnish language learning are integrated in the local school certificate. It is the cooperation with the school system of the canton of Zürich, the Finnish curriculum guidelines as well as continuous teacher training that create the framework for today’s teaching.

In the academic year 2021–22, the Finnish Language School in Zürich provides teaching for all grades of comprehensive school from 1 to 6 and for pre-school children starting from 3 years of age. In total, we have 13 groups, taught by ten teachers. Encouraged by the experiences of remote teaching during the pandemic, our school has continued to make good use of distance learning. In the current school year, we thus offer not only classes at school, but also distance learning as a separate group. This is particularly helpful for those living at a longer distance. For a number of years now, we have had an activity group where language learning happens during physical activity; for this school year the group’s theme is movement.

We are proud to celebrate the anniversary this year and want to show the joy of learning the home language in a variety of ways. Before the anniversary, we mapped our students’ favorite Finnish words, and as a result of this survey, we created the Lempisana product line whose tote bags and T-shirts gained great popularity. For this special school year, the crowned head of the Finnish forests, the moose, was chosen as animal of the year. And so, all groups have had a moose mascot in their lessons and the moose has taken a place in stories, images and even in the paper handouts. Many groups have developed the habit of starting their school day by greeting their moose that has become to play quite an important role.

Zürichin Suomi-koulun oppilaita

The highlight of our anniversary will be the 40-year celebration at the beginning of June. The celebration’s daytime program for the students will include Finnish children theater and the closing festivities of the school year, all set in the magnificent landscape of lake Zürich. The evening celebration is targeted at an adult audience, offering them Finnish theater and live music. We keep our fingers crossed, hoping that the pandemic will be under control so that we may put these plans into practice.

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