Being a Anglo-Finnish bilingual family is made a lot easier by the international network of Finnish Saturday Schools. These Saturday Schools are not unique, since the Germans have their own Saturday Schools and the Chinese tend to teach their children communally Chinese. The Finnish state sponsors through the Finland Society fortnightly lessons during the ‘Finnish’ term time between September and May/early June for children with a Finnish parent or two. Finn-Guild and the Finnish Church in Finland are essential to provide training and support for the teachers on annual courses.
These schools cannot teach children who mainly speak English, who are spoken very little Finnish or have decided to speak English Finnish. Not the lessons are not frequent enough without an extra input at home, but they help to maintain the existing language skills, meet children in the same situation and just have plain fun by running around during the break and playing games and participating in activities during the lessons.
The schools often mark the main national celebrations, such as the Independence Day in December, May Day in May – or May Day Eve – and Midsummer and have special parties. The last is often the biggest celebration back in Finland, but many families cannot join the bonfire night in Finland, since it is school term time in England. Thus, a barbecue in UK is a fun day out in late June.
This praise is not only because I happen to be in the committee of our local school and have been updating our East Midlands web site for a couple of years. No, I would be happy about the Finnish peer support, even if I only popped in for an occasional coffee...