Job description of immigrant native language teacher

The job description of a native language teacher is versatile. Teaching the language is naturally the primary task. On top of that, in native language lessons the pupils' supply of concepts is increased and diversified, their reasoning supported and their thinking skills developed. In addition to actually teaching the language the native language teacher's job description also often includes supporting the pupil's integration in the country.

Remedial teacher

The native language teacher acts as remedial teacher; he/she teaches other subjects in his/her own language. Both pupils having difficulties in their studies, and those accustomed to advancing fast in their native country, turn to their native language teacher for help. The views and help of the native language teacher are also resorted to in the assessment of the pupil's need for special or remedial teaching or other supportive measures.

Cultural supporter and intermediator

A native language teacher represents his/her culture to the pupil and at school; sometimes he may be the pupil's only contact, apart from the parents, with the culture in question. A native language teacher also teaches his/her own culture, intermediates special features, principles, values etc. of his/her native culture to the pupils. Everything the teacher does has an impact on the pupils' image of the culture in question.

Example and role model

A native language teacher is an example to the pupils and to others of the same cultural background: the teacher having been accepted into Finnish work life shows how also those having an immigrant background are able to reach an equal position in Finnish society.

Interpreter and translator

It is expedient to always arrange for an interpreter to be present when the school arranges meetings with guardians; for example orientation visit to school of a new pupil and guardian, drawing up of the integration or learning plan and so on. A native language teacher may, however, act as an interpreter, should the guardians suddenly appear at school without prior notice when no  interpreter has been arranged for.

Where there is no common language and there is need to contact home, is it often done with the help of the native language teacher. School messages and other written communications are also often intermediated by the native language teacher. Sometimes it is necessary to translate messages concerning school work, aimed at Finnish families, or maybe even explain them in more detail to immigrant parents in their own language.

A native language teacher participates, whenever possible, in parents' evenings and other school events and often acts as an interpreter in them. A native language teacher may be of additional  use to the pupils in other studying matters as well; the teacher may perhaps translate the pupils' examination papers or, if necessary, attend the examination as an interpreter.

Cultural interpreter

A native language teacher acts as a cultural interpreter in particular in the co-operation between school and home. He/she can explain to the parents the purpose of the school's actions or the way of thinking of the teachers (or in general the Finnish way of thinking). Moreover, the teacher intermediates information to the school and the teachers by explaining matters of his/her own culture to them.