Independence Day speech: The importance of Swedish as a school subject

TEXT: ILONA KÄMÄRÄINEN

Ladies and gentlemen,

thank you for coming to this Independence Day event tonight. I have the honor to give the speech this year and I want to thank our school body for choosing me. Believe me when I say that it was not the easiest thing to come up with a great speech topic but finally I ended up with something that is probably not the most obvious for our Independence Day. That is the importance of Swedish as a subject in our schools.

As a third year student in a Finnish high school I have almost graduated and already taken some of my final tests. Swedish was one of them and it is weird to think that my studies with that subject are over in high school. If I decide to continue studying in a foreign university it might be that I will not study Swedish ever again. Sad, isn’t it? It doesn’t mean, though, that I won’t need it. I think it was worth every minute that I spent with my notebook trying to get those verbs into my head. Swedish is one of my favorite subjects and it has given me lots of joy and excitement realizing that I can understand it outside the school. It is hard to relate to people who protest that Swedish should be cut off from schools. 

This brings me to think of all the great benefits about Swedish that I will share with you now. I think the biggest advantage is the possibility to work and study in Sweden. Language skills in Swedish might be the crucial factor when looking for a job. Think about all the schools in Sweden that are there just for you to apply to. Secondly, Finland is a bilingual country and there are lots of places here where people speak mainly Swedish. And of course it’s known that everywhere you go, you are able to use Swedish or have customer service in this beautiful language. Additionally taking more Swedish courses takes you closer to that 75 course minimum we have here in Mäkelänrinne. On a side note, it’s very common that language studies are obligatory in universities in Finland so if you’re planning to get your degree it won’t do any harm to know something beforehand. With Swedish it may be easier to understand Norwegian or even Danish! In addition to just mentioning these few benefits, I have to add how cool it is. For example, I once made an impact on one older couple in France when I replied to them in Swedish. What are the odds?!

It seems nowadays that many teenagers find it hard to find motivation to

study Swedish. Or is it just laziness? I’ve noticed that it is not easy for everyone and I am not saying that everyone should be good at it. But it feels like people don’t even want to try when it’s difficult for them. It really isn’t that hard if you know something in English. They are quite similar in the end if you want to think it that way. Also young people have been reluctant to keep up with Swedish because they feel it’s unfair that in Sweden people don’t have to study Finnish. But let’s be realistic here. Considering the history between Finland and Sweden it would just be quite funny if they studied Finnish there. Sweden is bigger and it might also be ahead of Finland in some areas – for example internationality- so what’s the point to lose our special feature.

After all, I think it would be a waste of time not to use this great opportunity in schools. Who knows how useful it will be in the future. When my uncle was younger he refused to study German and surprisingly ended up working in a German company. How much easier would it have been if he had studied German in his school years? Of course it was a different language but still.

I have been jabbering about my opinions for a while now. Next is your turn. Please take part in the language forum we have on our school website and tell us how you feel about Swedish. On a final note I would like to encourage everyone to study and enjoy Swedish as much as they can. Even if today is the birthday of Finland we can’t forget Swedish as an important part of our history. Let’s enjoy this evening. Thank you!

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