Language Centre Course Assistant Programme for international students

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Course assistants are international exchange or degree students who act as native peers for students learning the assistant's native language. There are course assistants in most of the Language Centre courses. They work together with Language Centre teachers and help language learners e.g. with pronunciation, group work and discussion skills both in and out of the classroom.

The idea of the Course Assistant Programme is to invite international students who are native speakers of certain languages to assist in Language Centre teaching. This gives international students the opportunity to meet Finnish students, and it brings new aspects to language learning and teaching. Finnish students in turn get to know international students and learn more about their languages and cultures.

The autumn 2021 online info session for the Course Assistant Programme took place on Thursday 9 September 2021. You can watch the recording of the session on YouTube. Please note that the deadline mentioned on YouTube is incorrect: apply to the programme before 14.9.2021, 23:59.

You can already sign up for the programme via the autumn 2021 course assistant application form (deadline 14.9.2021, NB: for students wanting to assist in English the deadline is on 13.9 at 9:00).

If you have any questions regarding the programme, please contact coordinator Merijn van Bruggen via email.

 

Who can apply?

The Course Assistant Programme is for international exchange and degree students from all faculties who are interested in language learning and are native speakers of one of the following languages:

Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Danish**, English*, French, German, Icelandic**, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian**, Russian, Spanish, Swedish.

Take a look at the Course Assistant programme in Sisu.

* If you wish to become a course assistant in English, being a native speaker of English is not a must. However, you have to be a confident user of English (C1 level). At the moment course assistants for English only assist in the Autonomous Language Learning Modules (ALMS courses). For ALMS course assistant applicants the info session is a must. There you'll meet with one of the teachers and receive information about ALMS and about the additional motivational letter all English assistant applicants must write. For more information about the info session, scroll down on this page or contact programme coordinator Merijn van Bruggen via email (merijn.vanbruggen@helsinki.fi).

** Students with Norwegian, Icelandic or Danish as their native language are also welcome to act as course assistants in some of the Language Centre Swedish courses, not as native peers, but as representatives of their own culture.

Depending on your native language it might also be possible to act as a native peer for the local students in some of the other language courses. In case you’re interested in this you should attend the Course Assistant Programme info session. For more information, please contact programme coordinator Merijn van Bruggen via email (merijn.vanbruggen@helsinki.fi).

What makes a good course assistant?

Participating in this programme does not require any previous linguistic or pedagogical studies. However, some of the previous applicants have studied to become teachers and many have had different kinds of tutoring duties. You are expected to

  • be interested in language learning and meeting Finnish students.
  • be eager to teach your native language to others and tell about your culture.
  • be flexible and have a positive way of thinking.
  • like social activities or be curious to engage in social activities.
  • have an active and independent approach to participating in Language Centre teaching.

What does a course assistant do?

Course assistants can be involved in various classroom and out-of-classroom activities and engaged in both beginners’ level courses and in more advanced ones. Assistant activities can include e.g. the following:

  • Conducting pronunciation practice and oral interaction in general
  • Participating in group work situations, in the classroom or via Zoom
  • Playing different roles as a native person in oral exams
  • Being available for conversations with students enrolled in Language Centre courses
  • Giving presentations about one's home country, culture and other suitable topics
  • Hosting language tables in Language Centre workshops
  • Visiting high schools in the Helsinki region to give presentations about oneself

The same assistant can be involved in various courses simultaneously with different teachers in the same language. The teacher and the assistant agree together on each assistant’s course(s) and activities. The assistant’s own ideas and interests are very welcome and taken into account.

The assistants keep track of their own working hours by filling in a logbook. International students receive the logbook with instructions when they are selected as course assistants.

The logbook

What information should I include? Is there a template I can use?

The logbook is a diary where all assistant working hours are recorded. In the logbook you should write down what you have done, when, in which courses and with which teachers. All preparations you do for assistant activities are included as assistant working hours and should be recorded in your logbook. We kindly recommend that you add your working hours to the logbook on a regular basis.

You will find the logbook template with instructions on the course assistant Moodle platform (please note that logging into the course assistant Moodle requires a course key; all course assistants receive this key from the coordinator via email). At the end of the assisting, the logbook needs to be submitted to the course assistant Moodle. Teachers can then access your logbook and verify the work that you have done as an assistant.

What if I want to continue working as an assistant for another term?

If you have started as an assistant and you want to continue in the next semester, you can do so if the teacher agrees. You can keep on using the same logbook and hand it in at the end of the assisting.

Where do I submit the logbook?

The logbooks are submitted to Moodle where there are specific folders for each language. Keeping your logbook up-to-date and submitting it on Moodle is necessary to receive your ECTS credits and certificate for the programme.

How much work is required?

It depends entirely on how many hours a week you can invest in this programme. Your own study schedule at the University of Helsinki is the most important one. The teacher and the assistant will always plan together which course(s) the assistant participates in and how often, as well as decide the assistant's role.

Normally Language Centre language courses run twice a week (2 x 45 min) for the whole semester and some assistants participate in both sessions every week, while other only participate once a week. You can estimate the number of ECTS credits (1 = ca 27 hours) that you will receive from this programme when you plan the assisting activities with the teacher(s).

As an assistant, you should be independent and active; contact the teacher face-to-face or by email if you have any questions or comments or if anything is unclear. If there are any other questions or comments, contact coordinator Merijn van Bruggen.

What does a course assistant gain from completing the programme?

Students can receive 1 - 4 ECTS credit(s) for their work as an assistant. 1 credit is equal to about 27 hours of assistant work.

NB! The number of credits depends on the time you can invest in this programme, but it also varies greatly between languages. For some languages there are more courses available and also more assistance needed, but for some languages there are only a few courses available per semester and therefore also less assistance needed.

One lesson (45 min) is calculated as one assistant working hour. This means that the basic Language Centre double teaching session (2 x 45 min) is equal to two assistant working hours. Assistant working hours also include all preparation work or assistant activities outside the classes, e.g. hosting pronunciation clinics.

Keep your logbook up-to-date and contact the coordinator and the teacher who you are working with as soon as you notice that you might not be able to gain enough hours needed for the number of credits you are aiming for. If the ECTS credits are important to you, ask your home university whether you can add these credits to your degree.

Being a course assistant also presents international students with a great opportunity to meet Finnish students and work with Language Centre teachers. It’s also a good opportunity for the assistants to practice their presentation, group work and cooperation skills in varying situations in language learning and teaching contexts.

Info session 9.9.2021

An info session about the Course Assistant Programme is organized in the beginning of each semester. All international students who are interested in this programme and are native speakers of one of the following languages are welcome to attend: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Danish, English, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish or Russian!

The info session for the autumn term of 2021

The online info session for the autumn term takes place on 9 September 2021 from 15:15 - 16:45. The session starts with a presentation about the Course Assistant Programme, after which students will be assigned to breakout rooms with different language teachers. From the teachers you will hear more about the teaching in your native language. You can also discuss your wishes and expectations with them.

Register for the info session via this form by 7 September at the latestFor more information please contact programme coordinator Merijn van Bruggen via email (merijn.vanbruggen@helsinki.fi).

 

How to apply to the programme?

The application period for the Course Assistant Programme runs in the beginning of each semester. You can sign up for the programme via the Course Assistant application form: autumn 2021. The deadline for applying is on 14.9.2021 (NB: for students wanting to assist in English courses, the deadline is on 13.9 at 9:00).

Please note that this programme is for University of Helsinki's international exchange and degree students who are interested in language learning and are native speakers of one of the following languages: ArabicChinese, English*FrenchDanishGermanIcelandicItalianJapaneseKorean, NorwegianRussianSpanishSwedish.

* If you wish to become a course assistant in English, being a native speaker of English is not a must, but you have to be a confident user of English (C1 level). You must also attend the Course Assistant Programme info session held in the beginning of the semester.

In some languages potential candidates are interviewed by a teacher of the language in question. The number of assistants that can be taken into different language groups and courses varies greatly. For some languages, the Language Centre offers many courses on many different levels, and for others only a few courses per year. The need for having an assistant also depends on the course level and the group size, e.g., for some courses a teacher can have more than one assistant simultaneously.

NB! Almost all teaching and assisting at the Language Centre will be carried out online during the autumn term 2021. It is highly recommended that you attend the course assistant info session on 9.9.2021 before applying to the programme.

For more information about the info session and applying, please contact programme coordinator Merijn van Bruggen via email (merijn.vanbruggen@helsinki.fi).