Lieksa, Finland: Parents don’t want their children to be driven to school by Somali taxi drivers

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Leiksa, a far-flung town in eastern Finland, has attracted a lot of bad publicity in recent years from Perussuomalaiset (PS)* councilmen who demanded a ‘Somali-free’ meeting room to a migrant taxi driver that was assaulted recently,  is once again in the news for all the wrong reasons. A group of parents from the town of 12,000 inhabitants don’t want their children to be driven to and from school by Somali taxi drivers. 

The parents claim that the taxis that the children are taken to school haven’t passed the annual vehicle safety and roadworthiness test or have alcohol ignition locks required by law.

Some parents have filed complaints to the police and threatened to boycott the taxis if the drivers aren’t changed and that the cars have passed the annual vehicle safety test.

Pauli Meriläinen, the owner who hired the Somali taxi drivers, denies the accusations made against him.

‘The whole fuss started when I hired by mistake migrant taxi drivers,” he was quoted as saying on Joensuu-based Karjalainen. ‘Right after that the problems began. Parents started to made up these accusations.’

Näyttökuva 2014-11-12 kello 21.06.30

 

Read full story (in Finnish) here.

 

One of the parents told YLE Pohjois-Karjala that the parents don’t feel comfortable with the Somali drivers because they don’t speak sufficient Finnish.

‘This has nothing to do with the color of their skin or their nationality,’ the person said. ‘In the agreement it states that [Finnish] language proficiency must be sufficient but in this case it isn’t.’

The parents of the children accuse Meriläinen of using the ‘racism card’ to not resolve their two demands: change the drivers and the roadworthiness of the taxis.

‘I wonder what the union thinks if parents demand that I change the drivers?’ Meriläinen said. ‘Is that a reason to layoff [these drivers]? The [taxi] drivers [are qualified and] have driven buses in Helsinki.’

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Yossie, that’s a white Finn making that call, or being accused of using the ‘racism card.’

      A friend of mine put it well on Facebook: ‘If you’re a racist, don’t be surprised when people use the “racism card”‘

      True or false? Would this happen if the taxi drivers were white? Making such demands in Lieksa of all places doesn’t help your case.

      I’m happy I don’t live there. The reaction by some Finns towards the behavior of some parents shows that there is a lot of hope yet in this country.

      No matter how much you kick and bitch, Finland is culturally and ethnically diverse. I think it is perverse that you think that Finland must be ‘kept white’ or that my group holds ‘the monopoly of beauty, of intelligence’ (Aime Cesaire).

  1. Yossie

    “Yossie, that’s a white Finn making that call, or being accused of using the ‘racism card.’ ”

    With the help of that immigrant privilege.

    “A friend of mine put it well on Facebook: ‘If you’re a racist, don’t be surprised when people use the “racism card”‘”

    So lets see:

    -You should not be talking to phone while driving
    -Racist!
    -No, you are at the fault here. You cant use racism card.
    -If you’re a racist, don’t be surprised when people use the “racism card”

    So basically just keep calling people racists always wins?

    “True or false? Would this happen if the taxi drivers were white? ”

    You think parents would somehow care less about their children safety if the drivers were white? This would have happen, but it would not have never made to country wide news.

    “Making such demands in Lieksa of all places doesn’t help your case.”

    They should not care about their children’s safety only because drivers were black and it was in Lieksa?

    Immigrant privilege #3
    People do not dare to accuse you of anything nor investigate any claim against you because they are too afraid to get called racists.

    That is the path that leads to Rotherdam in UK where 1400 white children were sexually abused over years just because authorities were too afraid of getting called racists or not to cause racial tensions to investigate the matter.

    • AudreLorde

      Aaah yes. Immigrant privilege. The immigrant privilege that results in immigrants earning €9300 less (per year) than native Finns.

      That immigrant privilege that results in Somalis with Finnish degrees, who have been here 15 or 20 years not being able to enter the job market despite being as qualified and linguistically capable as native Finns.

      That darned immigrant privilege! Must be great when a native Finn male yells at a baby in a supermarket just because he happens to be black. Then yells abuse at a woman of colour outside the supermarket. Let’s get this straight, this f**kwit is offended by the very human existence of a baby and woman because they are not white. To him, anyone who isn’t white doesn’t have a right to exist!!! Can you comprehend what it’s like to live every day knowing that there are people who think that your heart should stop beating, that you just, shouldn’t EXIST because you don’t look like him or her? Can you wrap your tiny brain around that?

      It’s amazing that despite all of this ‘immigrant privilege’ you speak of, that you barely see any people of colour/immigrants working for major Finnish institutions. Crazy isn’t it? I’d love to hear your explanation for this Yossie.

      It’s interesting that you perceive a link between child sexual abuse and ethnicity in the Rotherham case. Perhaps we should perceive other crimes by race/ethnicity too? Perhaps we should talk about “why most mass murderers are privileged white males”.

      Or perhaps we should talk about this:

      “Ten white straight men jailed over North Yorkshire girl’s sex exploitation”; is one headline a twitter user sent me. Are white people more inclined towards acts of mass murder – like murdering Native Americans; bombing Iraq, Afghanistan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki; slavery and colonialism? White people carry out the majority of sexual attacks committed against animals in this country [United Kingdom]. Is it something in white culture? Can I hear white community leaders condemning such acts? In fact, let’s hear from the highest ranking white community leader in this country, David Cameron, and have him explain and apologise for these actions carried out by white people

      “When Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway we saw no long discussions about how his race or culture might be responsible for his crimes and precious little discussion of what role his fascist political beliefs might have played. Instead he was treated as an anomaly and his mental state called into question. God forbid that we embark on a deep analysis of the racism in society perpetuated by the media, institutions and culture. Let’s just blame this one individual that acted all alone.”

      I strongly suggest that you – Yossie – re-evaluate your position, because even in the real world as opposed to the virtual, anyone with half a brain and some critical thinking skills will destroy your idiotic ‘arguments’ quicker than you can say “race card”. Good bye.

    • Yossie

      AudreLorde

      Seems you didn’t read what I wrote. First of all, whole “immigrant privilege” thing is mimicking Enrique’s ridiculous “white privilege” definitions. As such they are very exaggerated. While there is a hint of truth in there though. Second, the “immigrant privilege” I talked about was nothing about employment. Let me write it down here again:

      “You can do whatever you want, if someone complains about it, just silence the complainer by calling them racists.”

      and

      “People do not dare to accuse you of anything nor investigate any claim against you because they are too afraid to get called racists.”

      My motivation to write that comes from the fact that Enrique is blatantly claiming that parents complaints must be wrong, and the only reason for that is because the drivers are black. More or less blaming parents to be racists and sweeping the possible problems under the carpet.

      Ethnicity is relevant in Rotherdam only because it prevented police and local government to stop the child exploitation. They were too afraid of getting called racist or “causing racial tension”. I already wrote this but you somehow decided to ignore it.

      Why Rotherdam is relevant here, is because Enrique wants the same attitude here. His thinking is that parents should not complain about the subpar service as not to cause “racial tensions” in Lieksa.

  2. AudreLorde

    I will use the term ‘white supremacist attitudes’ and not ‘racism’ because racism is a behaviour and does not comprehensively explain what happens. White supremacy is a power structure and white supremacist attitudes can be held by both whites and people of colour. bell hooks explains this best in ‘Writing Beyond Race’.

    I do not share the view that every complaint ever made against a person of colour is solely the result of white supremacist attitudes and not incompetence or other issues on the part of the person of colour, HOWEVER, I AM of the view that generally when valid complaints are levelled against people of colour, in the majority of contexts, the complaints are made with a level of violence and negative judgement that whites do not have to suffer. People of colour suffer much graver consequences for mistakes or incompetence and this has been recorded statistically across many countries. Finland is still catching up when it comes to tracking statistics on such issues. So, if a white taxi driver uses his mobile phone while driving, it is likely that he will be given the benefit of the doubt (by both whites and non-whites because they’ve both learned white supremacist attitudes) much more than a Somalian driver that engages in the same behaviour. The taxi driver that is a person of colour will (as we see here) have his whole position in that job called into question. The white taxi driver will likely not. Just as, across the world (with few exceptions) people of colour serve more custodial prison sentences and longer jail time than whites that committed crimes of the same nature and gravity.

    If these parents’ complaints were NOT coming from a place of white supremacist attitudes, instead of talking about the taxi drivers, they would direct their criticisms and complaints in the media at the owner of the taxi company who is in charge of how his company is run. They haven’t. If they’re concerned about roadworthiness and safety locks, then they should express that and complain to and about the taxi company owner and how he runs his company. He holds a position of power, not the taxi drivers. If they’re concerned about the language ability of the drivers, again, they should direct that at the person making recruitment decisions as opposed to attacking an underemployed and marginalised minority group in Finland. They don’t. In a town where there has been a racially motivated physical attack against a Somali taxi driver and the ‘Somali free meeting room’ scandal, it’s not much of a stretch to presume that this latest taxi driver issue is motivated by white supremacist attitudes.

    As for your comments about ethnicity in Rotherham, I’m afraid you’ve really been duped if you truly believe that the good old innocent supposedly anti-racist police in the UK doesn’t intervene in crimes for fear of being called racist. Perhaps you should watch the documentary ‘The Secret Policeman’ (2003) and see for yourself what police racism looks and sounds like in the UK.

    ‘The Secret Policeman’ –

    These are all political power games Yossie. Aggravate the white Brit population (in working class areas such as Rotherham) by appearing to give concessions to Brit people of colour. Keep communities divided through resentment towards each other. Suffocate any chance of cross racial community organising or unity by doing this. Lack of community organising means you’ve disempowered people politically so that you (the police), the government and the legal system can exert greater and greater control over the lives of individuals. That’s what’s happening here. But unfortunately, many such as yourself are all too eager to believe the simplistic, bigoted analyses proliferated by tabloids such as the Daily Fail.

    Parody of Daily Mail headlines: http://www.thepoke.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/jimbo_loony.jpg

    • Yossie

      “If these parents’ complaints were NOT coming from a place of white supremacist attitudes, instead of talking about the taxi drivers, they would direct their criticisms and complaints in the media at the owner of the taxi company who is in charge of how his company is run. They haven’t”

      Their criticism has been on the company! In my first comment I linked complaints made by the parents. Whole racism thing is advertised by the owner of the company to hide how bad his company is. It is you who have been duped here.

      “In a town where there has been a racially motivated physical attack against a Somali taxi driver and the ‘Somali free meeting room’ scandal, it’s not much of a stretch to presume that this latest taxi driver issue is motivated by white supremacist attitudes.”

      These parents have nothing to do with those things! So basically everyone in Lieksa should beware making complaints about immigrants because that would be “not much of stretch to presume” being racists? To me it seems you are very prejudice and suspicious of white Finns.

      “As for your comments about ethnicity in Rotherham, I’m afraid you’ve really been duped if you truly believe that the good old innocent supposedly anti-racist police in the UK doesn’t intervene in crimes for fear of being called racist.”

      At least that’s what happened in Rotherham. It was widely reported based on official report about the matter. Am I at fault for believing that? Should I instead believe in your conspiracy theory:

      “Lack of community organising means you’ve disempowered people politically so that you (the police), the government and the legal system can exert greater and greater control over the lives of individuals.”?

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –At least that’s what happened in Rotherham. It was widely reported based on official report about the matter. Am I at fault for believing that? Should I instead believe in your conspiracy theory…

      You should be careful about applying one case to everyone. If you think of it, Yossie, that is exactly the fertile ground from which intolerance grows.

    • Yossie

      “You should be careful about applying one case to everyone. If you think of it, Yossie, that is exactly the fertile ground from which intolerance grows.”

      Like I said, rotherham is an extreme example of what can go wrong with the idea of “Making such demands in Lieksa of all places doesn’t help your case. ”

      However, I´m surprised you said this to me. What about AudreLorde’s comment:

      “In a town where there has been a racially motivated physical attack against a [deleted] taxi driver and the ‘[deleted] free meeting room’ scandal, it’s not much of a stretch to presume that this latest taxi driver issue is motivated by white supremacist attitudes.”

      Should he not be “careful about applying one case to everyone” too? Why are you not telling him the same thing?

    • Yossie

      You do not think your double standards are “the fertile ground from which intolerance grows”? Ever think of that?

      What kind of message would it send to immigrants if they are not expected to behave at the same level as white finns?

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Are you, Yossie, behaving like a Finn demanding assimilation if that isn’t even permitted in our constitution. There are no double standards, except your one one-way adaption plan for migrants.

    • Yossie

      “There are no double standards”

      Except you said it yourself:

      ” there is a big difference between white intolerance/racism and from minorities. You can’t put them in the same group ”

      Also, you don’t seem to be at all interested to apply your standard of “You should be careful about applying one case to everyone” to your “anti-racist” buddies.

  3. AudreLorde

    Oh Yossie. Quit wasting peoples’ time. Just admit that you suffer from confirmation bias and will therefore only accept information that confirms what you already believe. If you want to convince me, a UK native that has studied subjects such as sociology, politics and racism extensively, that the police in the Rotherham case were neglecting to intervene in criminal activity due to anti-racist motivations, you really are off your trolley.

    It always amazes me how individuals who clearly demonstrate that they have invested zero time and effort in studying racism and its sociological effects feel so knowledgeable and entitled to comment on it.

    And FYI, I’m not suspicious of white Finns. I’m suspicious of white Finns complaining about Somali taxi drivers in a small, remote town where Somalis are a minority and have been openly discriminated against and even physically assaulted. Better luck next time.

    • Yossie

      “If you want to convince me, a UK native that has studied subjects such as sociology, politics and racism extensively, that the police in the Rotherham case were neglecting to intervene in criminal activity due to anti-racist motivations, you really are off your trolley.”

      Am I wrong? Apparently it was in an independent report about the case. At least that’s what the news told. Are you maybe yourself suffering from confirmation bias?

      “It always amazes me how individuals who clearly demonstrate that they have invested zero time and effort in studying racism and its sociological effects feel so knowledgeable and entitled to comment on it.”

      Do I have to have a degree to comment in here? Or is it because I don’t bandwagon your racism accusations?

      “And FYI, I’m not suspicious of white Finns. I’m suspicious of white Finns complaining about [deleted] taxi drivers in a small, remote town where [deleted] are a minority and have been openly discriminated against and even physically assaulted. Better luck next time.”

      Good that you admit your own prejudices. Maybe ask Enrique to help you get rid of those. How unfortunate that a student of racism can’t recognize his of prejudices.

    • Mark

      Yossie

      Good that you admit your own prejudices. Maybe ask Enrique to help you get rid of those. How unfortunate that a student of racism can’t recognize his of prejudices.

      What a strange statement. You are suspicious of us writing about racism, because you worry that Finns will suffer (not about immigrants suffering, mind) but that suspiciousness is NOT prejudice. Yet, when one of our commentators is suspicious of demands to sack Somali taxi drivers because they are not fluent speakers of Finnish, you call it prejudice.

      Not only that, but the commentator openly admits to being suspicious (and for very good reason it would appear), but you then accuse them of NOT recognising this suspiciousness/prejudice? Very odd.

      The question remains—oh expert on racism—what are immigrants allowed to be suspicious of? I mean, of course, we should all bow to our Finnish paymasters in this matter – so tell me, at what point are we allowed to be suspicious?

      When we have been verbally assaulted? Apparently not. When we have been physically assaulted? Apparently not. When we have been murdered? Apparently not. When we have been denied jobs that we are perfectly qualified for? Apparently not. When we have been told that we cannot serve the Finnish public unless we have fluent Finnish skills? Apparently not. So when?

      When are we allowed to start being suspicious that perhaps all this negativity towards immigrants and all this focus on their ‘foreign’ culture is a sign of prejudice?

      I’d be interested to hear.

    • Yossie

      So we are allowed to be suspicious? In Enrique’s gospel, being suspicious and prejudice against immigrants (not against white finns, mind) is super bad and brings us doom and gloom. Then, where does the line between suspiciousness and prejudice goes?

      “When we have been verbally assaulted? Apparently not. When we have been physically assaulted? Apparently not. When we have been murdered? Apparently not. When we have been denied jobs that we are perfectly qualified for? Apparently not. When we have been told that we cannot serve the Finnish public unless we have fluent Finnish skills? Apparently not. So when? ”

      What I recent is that you people always seem to bring up racism as the motive right from the start. You got in the trouble in a bar? RACISM! You didn’t get the job? RACISM! Always, there never seems to be any other possible explanations.

    • Mark

      Yossie

      So we are allowed to be suspicious?

      You tell me? You were the one complaining about AudreLorde being suspicious and then calling it prejudice.

      I’m sure there is plenty of suspicion towards ‘white Finns’ (as you put it) by immigrants and prejudice. It’s not uncommon for people who are systematically discriminated against to develop negative attitudes and prejudices against those that are doing the discrimination. At some point, the argument becomes ‘you started it first’, and that is really quite a pointless argument to have. The solution is to condemn racism by all people, regardless of color or position. Yet, at the same time, trying to make these things equal is a pointless exercise in moralism. The effects of a majority population exercising discrimination against a minority population are far greater than what can happen in reverse, even while each individual event of discrimination is equally wrong.

      And on this blog, we have banned or suspended commentators who have shown that kind of discrimination against Finns and stated very clearly many times that this is not about ‘white vs. black’ or any such simplified idea of about racism. The issue is to ask whether we can overcome our prejudices and work together to create a secure and dignified community for all. Are you saying that foreigners should shut up about the racism they experience and it will all be okay? I somehow doubt that.

      What I recent is that you people always seem to bring up racism as the motive right from the start.

      Yep, this happens, I agree. My first thought is often what part does racism play in situations involving immigrants. And it’s true that we should be cautious about jumping to conclusions. But the kind of excuses I’ve seen that people use to explain away even quite obvious racism can be laughably bad. At some point, you have to say that there needs to be some serious changes in attitudes. As with many crimes, you come to a point where you realise that constantly looking to blame the victim is itself part of the problem.

      You got in the trouble in a bar? RACISM! You didn’t get the job? RACISM! Always, there never seems to be any other possible explanations.

      Are you saying that racism is never behind a fight in a bar? Or behind a job refusal? Somewhere in this situation is the middle ground, where it’s not ALWAYS this or ALWAYS that. Perhaps one day you and I will find that middle ground together. I’m happy to go there right now. Many immigrants accept that the job market is tough, even for Finns, and that not every opportunity is going to go their way, and that it’s not racism. Likewise, I know many immigrants that accept that not all hostility towards an immigrant is a result of racism, that hostility and aggression are part of all communities, even those that are quite homogeneous.

      But what I refuse to do is be cowered into not asking the question of what, if any, prejudice there is behind these kinds of issues. In the same way you try to defend ‘normal criticism’ of immigrants, I will defend the right to ask if this really is ‘normal’? If you have any understanding about racism at all, you will realise that we all have prejudices of varying kinds against all sorts of people and for all sorts of superficial and unjustifiable reasons, and that every human being has to work to untangle those prejudices if they are to behave in a way that dignifies their fellow man. If it’s something we ALL have to do, then there is common ground for us to work on as a way to reduce prejudice, including as you would hope, unfair prejudice against Finns. That is not off the table, in my book.

    • Yossie

      “Perhaps one day you and I will find that middle ground together”

      Actually Mark, seeing what you have written, it actually might be possible.

      “My first thought is often what part does racism play in situations involving immigrants”

      and I suppose in my part, I´m much too keen on dismissing the possibility of racism.

    • Mark

      Well, that’s a very constructive position you have taken. I won’t forget that.

  4. Mark

    Yossie

    You don’t need a degree to comment here, but if you were serious about racism, then you might go to the trouble to actually learn something about it, no?

    The only ‘racism’ I’ve EVER seen you comment on here over the years is this so-called silencing of (majority) whites who criticize immigrants, why is that? Surely if you were an expert on racism, you would have focused at least occasionally on racism against minorities? Not once!

    Regarding the case in Lieksa, if the cars didn’t have proper roadworthy certificates, that is a matter for the police and road traffic authorities. So far, nothing has been said about whether this statement is actually factual or not. How would passengers know whether the car had passed the road worthiness inspection?

    Yes, ‘alcolocks’ are a statutory requirement, and something that the Finnish owner of the company should take care of. Just as an aside though, the vast majority of Somalis are Muslims who don’t drink alcohol (yes, I know there are exceptions…yawn!), yet this fact isn’t worth mentioning? – better to raise the prospect of drunken Somalis driving children around the town, however unlikely that prospect actually is.

    Neither of these two points (road safety and alcolocks) would justify changing the taxi drivers, so we are left with one argument for that – the language skills.

    How are immigrants supposed to improve their language skills unless they have more contact with native speakers through the workplace?

    Excluding them from the workplace on the basis of less-than-perfect language skills and then complaining that those who do work have less-than-perfect language skills and must be sacked leaves immigrants with only one viable option, to be unemployed. And when they are unemployed, they are further criticized for not working to improve their language skills. Catch 22.

    Any suggestions for fixing this?

    Or are you still too obsessed with telling us that you are too afraid to comment for fear of being called a racist, though this has clearly NEVER stopped you commenting here in the past? Tell me what you would like to have said that you didn’t, out of fear? I’d be interested to know.

    • Yossie

      “The only ‘racism’ I’ve EVER seen you comment on here over the years is this so-called silencing of (majority) whites who criticize immigrants, why is that? Surely if you were an expert on racism, you would have focused at least occasionally on racism against minorities? Not once!”

      Neither have I seen this blog ever focused on anything but whites being racists against minorities. Finland, Europe, US, always whites being the bad guys and non-whites being the victims.

      “How are immigrants supposed to improve their language skills unless they have more contact with native speakers through the workplace?

      Excluding them from the workplace on the basis of less-than-perfect language skills and then complaining that those who do work have less-than-perfect language skills and must be sacked leaves immigrants with only one viable option, to be unemployed. And when they are unemployed, they are further criticized for not working to improve their language skills. Catch 22. ”

      Are you kidding me? There is absolutely no other way to improve one’s language skills than working among the target language group? I wonder how I ever learned English with this kind of logic. Are you saying immigrants don’t have or can’t have contacts with native speakers outside work?

      If you are hired for a work, you are expected to have sufficient skills for the work. If you don’t, then you are a trainee who would work under a supervision of a more experienced worker, this would not be the case in Lieksa.

    • Mark

      Yossie

      Neither have I seen this blog ever focused on anything but whites being racists against minorities. Finland, Europe, US, always whites being the bad guys and non-whites being the victims.

      Is that a justification for racism in Finland? Or is that even a justification for denying racism in Finland? First, mainstream media and social narratives actually cast the non-whites as the bad guys, and that is a big part of the problem. An unequal criminal system and higher rates of poverty among black populations in the US mean that more blacks are incarcerated and for longer sentences than white counterparts. The situation in Finland in regard to constant references to ethnic minorities as being criminally inclined likewise create a narrative where the non-whites are the bad guys. And yet a small voice on the internet pushing back is too much for you? You afraid that this narrative about the criminal immigrants would break down?

      Are you kidding me? There is absolutely no other way to improve one’s language skills than working among the target language group? I wonder how I ever learned English with this kind of logic.

      Are you saying you are happy for them to be on the dole and ‘learning Finnish at home’. You didn’t seem to disagree with that part. How did you learn English? As part of full-time education over a period of many years while your parents put a roof over your head, perhaps? It is a well-accepted fact among educationalists in Finland that work-based language development of Finnish skills is a perfectly logical and necessary stage in integration of immigrant workers. I’m surprised that you would choose to question this. Let me guess, you are a language or teaching expert?

      If you are hired for a work, you are expected to have sufficient skills for the work. If you don’t, then you are a trainee who would work under a supervision of a more experienced worker, this would not be the case in Lieksa.

      Are you saying that you know for sure that their level of Finnish was completely inadequate for the work? Because I haven’t seen any evidence for this, only claims that their Finnish wasn’t perfect. No stories about them being driven to the wrong address. All very subjective if you ask me.

      Likewise, do you think that it is a dignifying attitude to take towards foreigners? Why not simply ask that more be done to help these immigrants develop their language skills rather than asking for them to be sacked?

    • Yossie

      “Let me guess, you are a language or teaching expert?”

      Just saying your cycle made it look that improving ones language skills was only possible while working. And it is absolutely not the only possible avenue especially when living in Finland.

      “Are you saying that you know for sure that their level of Finnish was completely inadequate for the work”

      Parents claim it is. I suppose that is a subjective opinion but they are the “customers” (yes, yes, kids are the customers but obviously parents speak for them). Ultimately we, as outsiders, don’t know for sure though.

      “Why not simply ask that more be done to help these immigrants develop their language skills rather than asking for them to be sacked?”

      This is kinda ruffing me in the wrong spots. It is always what white finns should do, never what immigrants should do. This is the feeling I get many times. No, I´m not an expert, but I can tell from my own experience studying languages that it is ultimately your own motivation that matters. Especially when you live among native speakers.

    • Mark

      Yossie

      Just saying your cycle made it look that improving ones language skills was only possible while working.

      I guess you see what you want to see.

      And it is absolutely not the only possible avenue especially when living in Finland.

      And yet it is an extremely important one. First, because it allows immigrants to have gainful employment. Second, it’s context-based learning, which is far more effective for adult learners than class-room learning. Third, it’s real world language, unlike 100% of the language courses, where immigrants are expected to learning Finnish from other immigrants, and where the teachers pick up their own pay-checks knowing full well that the teaching method sucks.

      Parents claim it is….Ultimately we, as outsiders, don’t know for sure though.

      True. And would you say that if a person’s job is on the line, the fairest thing to do would be to establish the facts?

      It is always what white finns should do, never what immigrants should do.

      Well in this case, ‘whites’ seem to be asking for immigrants to be sacked, so yes, in this case, I would certainly ask what more can be done. I think that if you bring the conversation at every turn back to ‘whites always, blacks never’, then you will find yourself in a dead end in the conversation.

      but I can tell from my own experience studying languages that it is ultimately your own motivation that matters.

      It’s useful to hear different perspectives, but you should be clear to know where your experiences are different. You have perhaps grown up hearing English, and studied it already from a young age. This makes a huge difference, at least in the early stages of learning. It’s a leg up.

      Second, I’m guessing that in the early stages of learning, your livelihood was not dependent on it. Also, I’d say that even if you didn’t learn English, there would likely be lots of opportunities to gain a livelihood in Finland with your native language skills.

      None of these factors would be true of many immigrants coming to Finland. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t come. It means that when we discuss our expectations and their needs, we should be cautious to use our own experiences with languages as the only benchmark.

    • Yossie

      “it’s context-based learning, which is far more effective for adult learners than class-room learning”

      I´m sure it is. What I was after was that they should be able to exercise that context-based learning outside of work just as well. Having a job is not a requirement.

      “teachers pick up their own pay-checks knowing full well that the teaching method sucks.”

      How would you improve this?

      “it allows immigrants to have gainful employment”

      There is always a backside to this. Whoever they are serving or working with are inherently getting a worse service. All depends on their actual language skills and the nature of their job of course, but everyone might not be too keen on being the language practice partners when they expect to get something for what they have paid for.

      “‘whites’ seem to be asking for immigrants to be sacked, so yes, in this case, I would certainly ask what more can be done”

      What more can be done? Does the drivers have adequate language skills? If they do, what more would needed to be done? If they don’t why should the persons’ with inadequate skills be employed if there is requirements. If they should be allowed to be employed with inadequate language skills, then what is the point of the requirements?

    • Mark

      Yossie

      Having a job is not a requirement.

      It’s not a requirement, but it’s clearly beneficial. The key point here is how well supported immigrants are in terms of developing inside occupational settings, since if you arrive at a point where you are talking about sacking people for lack of language skills after all the investment that has already gone in to giving them the job in the first place, it seems a rather casual approach to the problem.

      How would you improve this?

      Gosh, where to start. I’m a linguist, a teacher, a tech person and a communications specialist, so I see this through several different lenses. But basically, there are two things that WILL converge in language learning – context and technology. This will and does open up new avenues for language teaching methodologies as well as providing concrete direction for tech development. This is something I’m working on personally, so I really hope something happens with this.

      Whoever they are serving or working with are inherently getting a worse service.

      In health care, you will find that when you are old, you will probably be taken care of in an old people’s home with lots of foreign workers there. This is inevitable because there are simply not enough Finns interested in doing that kind of work (pay is not exactly great!) and the Finnish older population will be significantly bigger than it is today (which will drive down salaries even further). There are situations where you will inevitably have to receive services from foreigners. If you start by saying that there must be a ‘benchmark’ for service standards, then you will have a lot of old people who have no-one to care for them. That’s it basically. So at some point, Finns should recognise that some compromises will have to be made. The question then is how to make the best of the situation – preparation is everything. Again, the focus should be on providing language support that is cheap, scalable, accessible and effective. Nothing like that exists at the moment, but there is no reason why it cannot be done.

      If they should be allowed to be employed with inadequate language skills, then what is the point of the requirements?

      Being practical for a moment here. A taxi driver with less-than-perfect Finnish might be able to serve 95% of customers without any major difficulties or loss of service. But, kids for example, might not know how to adjust their language to make it more understandable, or even some adults, so in 5% of cases, there would be some difficulties, and therefore ‘loss of service’. This is just an example, but how much ‘loss of service’ would you think is acceptable before you would demand this person be replaced by a native speaker? Second, is this ALWAYS going to be the case, that 5% of services are not optimal? Or will it get gradually smaller with time and learning? I’ve been in a taxi with native speakers and been taken on routes that I know are not efficient, so it’s not like ‘normal’ service is necessarily perfect, for example. How much do we focus on the services of ‘foreign drivers’ just because they are foreign, and end up applying a different and more picky standard? These are all questions that need to be considered in this case.

    • Yossie

      “This is something I’m working on personally, so I really hope something happens with this. ”

      I hope to hear some good news about it soon then :p

      ” A taxi driver with less-than-perfect Finnish might be able to serve 95% of customers without any major difficulties or loss of service.”

      I suppose all depends on what they can actually do and what not. If a child hurt himself while waiting for the bus and the driver doesn’t understand when kids tell about it, then the 5% can be a problem. We are talking about the service provided to kids here, standards should be more strict with them. Should the drivers be sacked? Really hard to say without knowing the details or facts.

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