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teaching in scandinavia

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by snoozyhead, Nov 29, 2005.

  1. Very interesting. The situation in Finland is exactly the same. Most of the ex-pats I've known here in Finland tend to leave after 6 months or so. I think this explains why Finland has got the lowest foreign population percentage)in the whole of the EU (the old 15) Nearly all of these ex-pats have been very well qualified. Its such a shame (for the Finns too, most are in desperate need of enlightenment).

    However, the prospects for foreign teachers who want to find work in Finland is a little better, especially if your first language is English. There are some Finnish Headteachers who are prepared to consider employing foreign teachers, but they are few are far between.

    By the way, even if you can get a job, expect to be stared and cursed at in the supermarket, for commiting the hideous crime of speaking English to your little kiddie in a built up area.
  2. funkymonkey

    funkymonkey New commenter

    I have been living in Norway for 9 years and agree with what has been said. I have had a number of jobs and always felt that being an immigrant has been a problem. I have an MA and 2years study in Norway as well as a norwegian teaching qualification. I have a teaching job in a norwegian school so I am lucky but i find norwegians racist and a bit ignorant..one of my collegues asked me if i was an asylum seeker and pupils ask me if i am" a real teacher". I am luckier than most i "look" norwegian. I think these attitudes might be common to scandiavia. My brother lives in Sweden and as had to take swedish qualifications to be a mechanic even though he went through a 5 year apprenticship with BMW. Still it could be worse I could have been born Norwegian
  3. I hope you guys are enlightening the finnish and norweigian population!

    Me and my british fella haven't had any comments or come across any agressive behaviour in Finland but we haven't tried living there. My other half would like to but I don't think it would be easy, mainly because of jobs (hard to get even if you're a finn!). Most young people we have met in Finland (not just my friends) have been genuinely interested in talking to him and asking questions about the UK but it's the older folks that seem to have a "why do you marry a foreigner when you could marry a finn" -attitude.

    Immigration is quite a new thing in Finland, we don't have a tradition of exploring foreign cultures like Britain does. People fear change. I think it will get better with time, especially after the current generation of children who have been brought up with people from different cultures grow up. I think people just have to learn that even if things are done in a different way in another culture it doesn't mean that either way is any better than the other. That's what I try to tell finns that ask me about studying abroad.

    On the other hand there is always likely to be some resentment towards other cultures, this can be seen anywhere that people from different backgrounds come together, including the UK.
  4. Nguyen Phuong Ngoc, age 55, arrived in Norway from Vietnam in 1975 with little more than a plastic bag containing a pair of trousers and a shirt.

    He went straight to work, starting out as a garbage collector, then a warehouse worker and then as cleaning help. He had studied social anthropology in Vietnam and knew he wanted a higher education.

    First he studied Norwegian several hours a day, and even went to sleep with Norwegian tapes playing in the background "so I could keep learning in my sleep," he told newspaper Aftenposten. He started at the bottom, in a Norwegian high school, then going on to study engineering and medicine at the university level. He graduated with the highest marks, but then hit the tough reality of trying to find a job in Norway when you're not a Norwegian.

    "I must have applied for at least 50 jobs as a doctor, without getting any response at all," he said. "I had to take small jobs here and there for many years to get the references I needed to prove I was a proper doctor and not a dangerous foreigner."

    That's why he has little doubt that quotas are needed to give other foreigners a chance. "Foreigners have a difficult time getting a job in Norway, even when they're better qualified than Norwegians," Nguyen claimed. "If there are several qualified applicants for a job, the foreigner should get preference."

    Nguyen now also lectures at the University of Oslo, is active in the Oslo medical association Legeforeningen, and works with the Catholic church, refugee aid and the Red Cross. He notes that foreigners also have an obligation to integrate into Norwegian society.

    "Immigrants who isolate themselves, distance themselves from Norwegians, and create big problems for themselves," he said.
  5. When you are in a taxi in Norway, Sweden and Finland and you have a "foreign" driver - just ask what qualifications they have - you will be surprised.
  6. Littlemissfinn

    Your guy won't have encountered any racism yet because he hasn't encountered the Finish general public yet. Finns in my experience tend to be think very carefully before they say anything. Communication tends to be less open. Finns are aware that it is not PC to be racist when foreigners are around. Your Finnish relatives might not say anything rude in front of him, or you.

    Racism does exist in all countries. However it does seem to be more common and more intense in Finland and the other Nordic countries compared to Britain. History does explain a lot. However, its a mistake to assume that things will improve automatically over time (a standard defence used by most Finns I've ever talked to.)

    Things will only improve once the denial stops. Its a bit like alcoholics. They can only start to get better once they are willing to admit that they have a problem.

    The moral of the story

    1. Think twice before you take your hubby back to Finland. It could end your relationship. I've seen this happen countless numbers of times with other British guys who follow their Finnish partner back to Finland. He probably believes all the propaganda he's been forced fed by you and your relatives about Finland being a perfect country / society. It will be very painfull for him to discover the reality doesn't match up to the hype....and yes he will have to deal with the racism. If you really want to move back with him you should explain the true situation. Is he prepared to cope with random racist abuse from strangers? If he does manage to get a job (a near miracle for foreigners who move to Finland without a job) how will he cope with being trated as a second class employee? How will he cope with being ostracised by his work colleagues?

    2. For the casual reader. A 2 or 3 year stint working as a teacher in Finland is a worthwhile experience. The kids are passive and so long as you turn a blind eye to their racist views and comments they're fairly OK. I've enjoyed my time here. I've learnt a lot about life. As a White middle class male its good to be on the receiving end of some prejudice!
  7. Mank,

    You just repeated everything I said above. I said HE wanted to live in Finland, I don't because I know it would be difficult. I also said people are prejudist, especially older people. And I mentioned the difficulty of getting a job, which is hard even for a finn, let alone a foreigner. So what was your point?
  8. You still underestimate the extent of the problems in Finland. That was my point

    Its also a Red Herring to throw in the line about it EVEN being hard for Finns to get a job in Finland. Its relatively easy for a White person with a Finnish sounding surname to get a job in Finland

    The unemployment rate amongst Finns is 7%. The unemployment rate amongst the foreign population is close to 40%. Amongst those who happen to have Black skin its over 70%. Disgraceful!
  9. Of course it is disgraceful. Quite appalling actually. I just didn't like the lecture about bringing my hubby to Finland when in fact I said I had no intentions of doing so for the already mentioned reasons. He was offered a job at the University of Kuopio but we decided against it.

    Unemployment in 2005 was 8.4 % and it is hard especially for young people entering the job market unless you are happy to be a cleaner or work in a fast food joint. Which brings us back to overeducating the population but enough about that. It is a well known fact that jobs are hard to get unless you know someone in the company etc.. I originally went to the UK because I couldn't find a summer job in Finland after 6 months of sending applications. Found one in the UK in a week.

    Just out of interest, what part of those 40 or 70 percent speak fluent finnish? Which obviously limits the spectrum of available jobs. Racism in employment is a big issue but you must take that into consideration also.

    Why do you still live there if you encounter daily abuse from the public, the students and your co-workers?
  10. Telling someone to "gome home" doesn't solve anything. Its also a fairly common line of defence for most of the Finns that I have ever met. In Britain British people will probably not get too upset if you say something critical about Britain. Brits love to have a good moan about their country. Somethings gradually improve as a result. Why do Finns get so upset if a foreigner says something negative about their country that they clearly see as PERFECT.

    I'm here because I'm honouring my contract!

    That's another issue though. In my experience in the UK Brits don't tend to brag constantly about how honest they are. People either are, or are not honest.

    In Finland, I've encountered a worrying tendancy amongst the Finns that I've met who claim that Finns are more honest than other nationalities!

    Secondly, in practice I haven't found the Finns particularly honest. Yes, theft is rare. However, I've found that verbal dishonesty is very common in Finland. A good example is pay. I know of at least two occasions where are foreigner has been promised a certain salary, and then on arrival in Finland the actual salary has been considerably lower.

    Apart from outright verbal dishonesty, another common tactic used in Finland is witholding information to deceive others, or to manipulate a situation in their favour. I really miss open and honest inter-personal communication.

  11. In the UK is it possible to find a cleaning job without being able to speak English perfectly?

    In Finland language is used as an excuse to racially discriminate against foreigners. Why is it necessary for a cleaning company to advertise only for native speakers of Finnish (a commonly used tactic). As someone else pointed out earlier even an ability to speak Finnish perfectly does not prevent you from being discriminated against. The next excuse will be that you speak Finnish with an accent. You can't have a job with us!

    One last thing. For job seekers or anyone else who may have to obtain information from Finnish organisations- don't be surprised if you do not receive a reply to e-mail messages. I know of academics in the UK eho have had terrible problems getting replies from Finnish academics. I've also found it very difficult to arrange factory visits for my students. No one replies to letters or e-mails. Very unprofessional.
  12. Tigger1962

    Tigger1962 New commenter

    It?s undoubtedly the case that there is discrimination in the employment markets in Scandinavia ? especially for immigrants from outside of Europe. I think that Denmark has been the worst country in that respect. I once sat in the fast stream Danish class among doctors, dentists and other professionals, but in Denmark it is virtually impossible to pass the ?Danish as a foreign language? exam that most employers demand ? for most people 3-5 years of study and you can be marked down for ?not having a perfect Danish accent etc? so doctors, dentists and vets were studying by day and cleaning offices and driving taxis at night.

    It is easy to blame the whole thing on discrimination ? and I think that this IS part of the problem. However the problem is much more complex than that. Many of the Scandinavian economies suffered greatly from the recession in the early and mid 1990s ? many restructured their economies and employment markets, huge cut in the public sector reduced traditional employment opportunities and, especially in Sweden, there are huge difficulties breaking into the labour market for ALL new groups of workers whether they be school leavers, new graduates (great discussion about this in Sweden) or immigrants. There is huge unemployment for all of these groups.

    One of the main problems for immigrants is language. Many from the UK seriously underestimate the problems of language barriers. The story of a UK family moving to Sweden was covered about 18 months ago on the BBC programme ?Get a New Life?. The parents could not believe the problems in finding work in their month ?because everyone speaks English? ? which of course is the point! Every school leaver speaks fluent Swedish and a good standard of English as both are compulsory at Swedish A-level. Therefore just speaking English is never enough ? in order to break into the labour market you need fluent language skills. Yet the catch 22 is that many immigrants won?t/can?t spend several years in language school.

    This leads to the next problem ? especially for English speakers ? the Honey trap. Sometimes English-speaking immigrants can find temporary or low level jobs ? the problem is that they are often insecure or it?s impossible to move on. For example to be registered as a teacher you need an A-level standard language certificate in many countries ? yet you can often get short term supply teaching in the Swedish state sector ? but without the language exam ? you?ll never get QTS or a permanent contract ? except for in the ex-pat sector. Most countries demand fluency in both a Scandinavian language and English ? most post A level jobs and study requires both ? this is an additional hurdle for many immigrants.

    There is also the issue of contacts- The use of personal contacts is much more widespread in Scandinavia. When I was on the language course there were several women in the group with very low levels of education from their own countries. For several their ?dream-job? was to be a ?home help? or a nursery assistant ?lamenting that there were never vacancies. But there were often vacancies ? the problem was that you needed contacts to find out about them ? those without a social network are disadvantaged. Often short term vacancies are not advertised ? someone will tip off the employer about a suitable person who is unemployed.

    There is also a centre-periphery problem. Many immigrants move to the major cities where it is often harder to find work. Many rural health authorities are currently actively recruiting overseas to fill vacancies in Sweden.

  13. Mank,

    With your attitude I somehow think you would have a problem in any country you went to. It sounds to me like it's not so much the finns that think their country is perfect, it's you. Your account so far has been that: Finns are rude, unprofessional, disillusioned, racist, uneducated and dishonest. I'm not surprised you don't get along so well. If I'd gone to England thinking that all the rude and prejudist people I came across represent the country as a whole, I wouldn't have stayed a month! If you start a conversation by "Your country sucks" what do you expect to hear? "Oh I know, I wish we were more like your country, could you teach us how things should be done?" So far I haven't heard any of that open and honest inter-personal communication that you were on about. I've agreed with you on problems with the finnish education system as well as racism and all I get back is "Yeah but it's SO the worst place ever!11!!" You criticise whithout trying to understand the underlying reasons or without offering any solutions. Would you call that constructive and open communication?

    At no point have I said that there isn't racism in Finland. My point was that there is no way that those 40 percent of unemployed foreigners in Finland all speak finnish. Thus it is impossible to hire all of them for a customer service job for example. And there are only so many jobs to go round where no language skills are needed. In the case of refugees, as soon as a they are granted refuge in Finland they are entered into the unemployment registry. I doubt anybody would be able to learn any language in such a short period to the extent of being able to have a conversation. Even for a cleaning job you need to be able to understand instructions. You are making out that every unemployed foreigner in Finland speaks fluent finnish and has a Ph.D! Of course there are those too, which is a shameful and needs to change. The unemployment of foreigners is going down every year so it does look like it's getting better with time.
  14. Tigger1962

    Tigger1962 New commenter

    I agree that it's not always easy to get replies to e-mail and letters.

    I've found that many part of Sweden the way to get visits etc arrange is by direct telephone contacts - people don't tend to have time to reply to e-mail because there are soooooooooo many. I had a new Swedish work e-mail inställed in January - and i currently have 789 unread e-mails - I could have a full-time job just replying to e-mail.
  15. I have read all this information about 'racism' in Scandinavia and I think it the case whereever you live if you are a foreigner. I have teaching qualifications from abroad, speak English and I been living in the UK for 8 years. I have MA from UK and QTS status here. When I went to do a teaching practice in a school in Leeds my teaching mentor said that she was 'against GTC giving QTS to foreigners!!!!' these are exactly her words!
    My teaching experience from my own country has been ignored, and I was told many times by employment agencies that without any UK teaching experience I have no chance to get any work, some even did not want to register me without any UK teaching references!!!!

    So all British people who say that Scandinavians are racist think about how you treat foreigners in your own country!!
  16. Hej Bonicus!
    Du har jo ret!!! you describe it very well. My own words!
    10 years in Denmark have been more than enough for me!


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