Developing language skills

University of Tampere students can expand their prior language proficiency or even learn new languages through persistent study. Even though English is the most common language in international interaction, knowing other languages is a considerable benefit. With that in mind, it is always a good idea to include languages in your elective studies.

When making preparations for studies abroad, it is crucial to work on your language proficiency. In many EU countries, exchange students can only study in the official languages of the country in question. By expanding your language proficiency ahead of time, you can also open up exchange opportunities in new language areas. Through persistence and determination you will be able to access exciting new countries and cultures.

For more information on the mandatory and optional language studies included in your degree, please read the Language Centre web pages and your faculty’s curriculum guide.

Ways to develop and maintain your language proficiency

Materials for the self-study of languages:

  • The Language Centre’s Self-access Centre
  • EUROMOBIL is a downloadable language learning programme that supports student mobility. The selection includes basic-level materials in Portuguese, Polish, Romanian, Czech and Hungarian, and advanced-level training in English, French and German.

Language proficiency evaluation

Language and proficiency tests

When applying for an exchange period in the United States, Canada, the UK, South Korea, Hong Kong, Mexico or Japan, for example, you will need to attach a certificate of your English-language proficiency to the application. Depending on the programme and target university, a certificate of completing the TOEFL or IELTS language proficiency test with a certain minimum score is often required. Students aiming for exchange studies in France or Germany may also need to provide proof of their language skills. The DELF and DALF French proficiency tests and the Goethe-Institut’s German proficiency tests are generally acknowledged.

For those selected for the ERASMUS exchange programme, a web-based language proficiency test is used to assess skill level before and after the exchange period. Based on the outcome of the test, licences are distributed for online language training courses. The tests and training are arranged via the OLS (Online Linguistic Support Tool) service commissioned by the European Commission for this purpose. More information on the language testing encompassed by the Erasmus+ programme.

 

    English-language proficiency tests

    TOEFL

    TOEFL is the standardised language test most commonly used by American educational institutes, for example. Information on the language tests is available on the Fulbright Center website, but the tests are organised by companies serving as TOEFL test centres. Registrations for the tests can be submitted through the ETS organisation’s TOEFL web page.

    IELTS

    IELTS, i.e. the International English Language Testing System, is another widely-accepted English-language test. In Finland, the IELTS test is managed by Finnbrit, whose website provides additional information and registration instructions.

    English-language level tests

    Depending on the university, the level of the studies, and the programmes or subjects in question, American universities may require incoming exchange students to take a proficiency level test that measures analytical, linguistic and quantitative skills. One such test is the GRE test, on which information is available on the websites of the Fulbright Center  and the League of Finnish American Societies. They also provide information on the SAT test (a general proficiency test that measures reading, mathematical and writing skills).

    Information on the GMAT test, which may be required for business studies, for example, is available on the GMAT website, while details on taking the test are provided on the LGF (Lan Group Finland Oy) website.

    French-language diplomas

    The DELF and DALF language diplomas and the TCF test

    The DELF and DALF language diplomas are the only ones of their kind approved by the French Ministry of Education. The DALF diploma supersedes the French universities’ language test for foreigners. The Institut Francais de Finlande also arranges preparatory courses for the tests.

    The TCF (Test de connaissance du français) is an official French-language level test. The certification is granted by CIEP (Centre international d’études pédagogiques), which operates under the French Ministry of Education.

    More information on the French-language tests can be found on the website of Institute Francais de Finlande under ‘Exams’.

    German-language tests

    Goethe-Institut language tests

    Goethe-Institut organises language certifications of various levels. All German universities and institutes of higher education accept the applicable Goethe-Institut level tests (e.g. GDS and TestDaF).

    Chinese-language proficiency tests

    The HSK (hanyu shuiping kaoshi) is a Mandarin Chinese proficiency test generally approved by the People’s Republic of China, which is organised in Finland by the University of Helsinki Confucius Institute,  usually once per semester. HSK has six levels, the first being the easiest and the sixth being the most challenging. Universities usually require the completion of the level 5 or 6 HSK test to attend courses in Chinese. The HSK test is administered in simplified Chinese characters. Taiwan, in turn, employs the TOCFL test (Test of Chinese as Foreign Language), which correspondingly features six levels but requires knowledge of traditional characters.

    Japanese-language proficiency tests

    The most common Japanese-language proficiency test is the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). In Finland, the test is held on the first Sunday of December in Helsinki. Additional information and application instructions are posted on the website of theEmbassy of Japan in Finland in the autumn. Outside Japan, the test is held in July and December. The JLPT features five levels, with N1 being the most challenging and N5 being the easiest.

    Language certificates and language revision

    Certificates of language studies completed at the University of Tampere Language Centre can be obtained from the Language Centre. The university’s Language Services unit provides paid language revision services.

    More information is available on the web pages of theLanguage Centre andLanguage Services.

    Self-assessment and comparability of language proficiency

    Europass language pass

    The Europass scheme was developed in order to facilitate mobility and clarify degrees. It provides students and job seekers with standardised documents for demonstrating competence in all EU and EEC countries. The Europass can be used to indicate your language proficiency according to a joint European proficiency scale of A1–C2. To read more about the scale, please visit the Europass website. Before assessing your own language skills, it is advisable to view theapplicable European self-assessment grid.

    Dialang program

    You can assess your own language proficiency with the Dialang program, which has been developed in cooperation with European universities. Dialang is maintained by Lancaster University. Read more about the Dialang program.