Ukrainian education and social work professionals and students learn languages in Humak’s bilingual programme

A new country, a new environment and a new language. Settling in a new country is not easy, especially when your future is completely uncertain. To help Ukrainians to settle in Finland, Humak launched a new bilingual study module (25 ETCS) in January 2023 for Ukrainian teachers, professionals, and students in the social and educational fields.

The study module LEARN – Supporting communities through experiential learning is based on elements of the popular Adventure Education degree programme. The goal of the bilingual implementation is to strengthen students’ professional language competence in English and give them a solid basis for learning Finnish.

Students are provided with laptops for the duration of the study module, and a Finnish language textbook helps them to learn Finnish in a traditional way, but Finnish is also studied in other ways: during the contact lessons, different activity-based methods are applied. Finnish language studies are also integrated in adventure education studies. Moreover, music is an important part of the Finnish studies.

“Activity-based methods and experiential learning are applied in the Finnish studies to make students cooperate in their language learning, to make conclusions and pose questions about phenomena related to the Finnish language and to have fun. I want the students to experience the dive into the Finnish language as an adventure”, says Finnish language teacher Eeva Pekanheimo.

Languages can be learned in authentic environments through experiences. (ALT: Coffee mug, plate, coffee spoon, basket, teebags on a table and their Finnish translations written in small papers next to them).
Languages can be learned in authentic environments through experiences. Kuva: Milla Lähdeniemi

Languages, too, can be taught in authentic environments through experiences. Traditional language teaching with texts, vocabulary lists and grammar are, of course, needed as well to support the other ways of learning – or vice versa.

Overcoming a humanitarian crisis takes time and needs community support

The LEARN study module aims to strengthen knowledge and skills in experiential and activity-based pedagogy, including an understanding of the role of community in supporting individual growth and development. In addition to a deeper understanding, The LEARN study module aims to provide practical exercises and tools for students.

Natalia Pendiura, Nataliia Lalabekova and Olha Mykhailova are smiling with their finnish textbooks)
Natalia Pendiura, Nataliia Lalabekova and Olha Mykhailova (from left to righ) learn Finnish language in the LEARN study module. Kuva: Milla Lähdeniemi

“I liked that today I learned a lot of useful exercises that can be used in my current job to understand the emotional state of people and their willingness to move on to achieve new goals or to learn new skills”, sums Natalia Pendiura, who is one of the students in The LEARN study module.

To facilitate deeper learning, The LEARN study module includes a practical training period in a Finnish workplace. During practical training, students’ practical Finnish skills will develop, and students will gain experience and contact with the Finnish world of work.

Enjoying the nature

Experiential learning takes often place outdoors and in natural surroundings and activity-based learning is linked to strengthening the growth, resilience and well-being of individuals and communities. The weather is not always favourable but that does not slow down the motivated and enthusiastic students.

“Even the weather doesn’t stop us from wanting to learn something new. I’m happy to be part of our big team!”, says Natalia Pendiura.

“When we went outside, we were able to enjoy the beautiful weather. It was very comfortable in the forest”, Nataliia Lalabekova agrees with her student colleague.

Group of students from the LEARN study module walking happily in forest
In the LEARN study module learning takes often place outdoors and in natural surroundings. Kuva: Milla Lähdeniemi

Moving out of the classroom creates a shared space where it is easier to let go of socialised power structures and settle more freely into shared learning. In nature, experiences touch and nurture. At their best, experiences create a space to learn skills needed in today’s world – such as problem-solving, resilience and self-reflection.

“I also noted the fact that the feedback in the exercises provided information not only for our facilitators, but for me as well. This is an understanding of my inner state, the comfort with which I am in this programme”, Nataliia Lalabekova reflects the output of the study day.

The LEARN study module is aimed at Ukrainians living in the Helsinki metropolitan area, and travel costs are covered by HSL’s single tickets. However, Olha Mykhailova, among a few others, travels to the course from outside the Helsinki metropolitan area.

“I had doubts whether it was worth to coming so long and then spending a long time outdoors, but I did not regret for a second! Overcoming obstacles is part of our life. Fighting our fears, it is the key to a better future. I’m glad that I ended up in a society where overcoming is not difficult!”, says Olha Mykhailova after a day spent in the forest.

Inspired? Join us!

The study right for the module is for Ukrainians who have the right to reside in Finland with the status of temporary protection. Due to cancellations, a few student places are available! Read more and apply.

The LEARN study module is a part of the Building a sustainable world through community education project (1.9.2022-29.2.2024). The project is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland.


Written by Project manager Milla Lähdeniemi. +358 400 349 246