Suomipassi - The Finnish passport - is an application that can be used in everyday life situations. The language application was developed at the University of Turku and it is also used in the Finnish language courses of the exchange students and international degree students. Suomipassi allows the user to select a phrase suitable for a customer service situation in a shop or restaurant and listen to it in Finnish. The threshold for using Finnish in everyday situations is reduced when the app is found on one’s own phone.
The idea of Suomipassi was born one year ago when the Finnish language teacher Jenni Laine at the Center for Language and Communication Studies of the University of Turku wanted to develop her students a concrete tool for everyday life situations. Also, the Student Union of the University of Turku (TYY) was taking part in the pilot project. In the first round, Suomipassi was a printed booklet. After the idea was refined, funding for mobile application was obtained from the Study in Turku project. The application was carried out by application developers at the University of Turku.
"With the application accompanying, you can learn, among other things, pronunciation. Suomipassi has been translated into six languages and includes also food vocabulary, numbers, and spoken language. The Finnish language learner can use the application independently, but in the most optimal way, it works as a part of Finnish language studies. It is rather an extra resource for language learning and is not intended for the holistic development of language skills, "Laine says.
Suomipassi was carried out at the University of Turku
The IT developers at the University of Turku have been able to experiment with a variety of new technologies in the Suomipassi project. The ready mobile application provides a wide range of further development opportunities pedagogically, in terms of content and technology. It is also motivating from the developers’ point of view.
"From Autumn, the IT Services is located in the premises of the Department of Future Technologies. This will bring more cooperation possibilities between researchers’ and IT Services. It allows, for example, a wide range of experimental development projects and a possibility to bring the best ideas into the university IT Service’s supply, "says Head of the IT Services Meri-Tuulia Kaarakainen.
For the University and Research, internal software development expertise provides concrete support for software acquisitions, tools for projects and the ability to develop ideas and applications within the university's internal work. The internal software development resource brings agility and innovation potential and leaves the expertise in your home university.
"We will, for example, develop mobile applications, implement applications for the collection of research material, and make websites for projects. With student cooperation, we also receive more and more projects in which research and new innovative solutions play a major role. We are looking for new innovative solutions together with the customer, "says Kaarakainen.
Students were involved in developing Suomipassi
In his studies at the Suomipassi pilot, Qing Liu was excited about the language passport and wanted to be involved in implementing a mobile application. Qing Liu translated Finnish phrases into Chinese.
"I wanted to take part in the project because there are many useful phrases in Suomipassi that I can use in different situations. It helped me to speak Finnish in daily life, so I wanted to translate them into Chinese speakers," says Qing Liu.
"It's been great to see my students' enthusiasm: they took part in the last autumn’s pilot, they gave important feedback, and some of them translated the app’s phrases into their own language. It has also been great to note that all partners have immediately seen the importance of the Suomipassi: it is not just about learning the language, but also about getting to know the city and locals, as well as supporting the integration of international students of Turku, "Laine says.
The brand new application is targeted at beginners. From the viewpoint of intermediate and advanced learners, there are many opportunities for further development.