When a Finnish-language teacher loses respect for her foreign students

by , under Enrique Tessieri

What do you do if you are an asylum seeker that got a residence permit to stay in Finland and went to a Finnish-language course for a whole year? Everything is fine until you meet your first Finnish-language teacher who has no respect, never mind cultural sensitivity, for the your background and needs.

“She was not only a bad teacher but cruel,” said the Somali woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “She made me cry all the time. When I asked help from her she’d say that I had to pay more attention to her in class. I have never met such a bad teacher in Finland.”


Most of the students in the class were Muslims and as everyone knows some of them pray five times a day.

“The teacher wouldn’t allow us to step out of class to pray for five minutes,” she continues. “She said that if I stepped out to pray I’d be marked as absent from the class.”

We studied Finnish 3-5 hours a day.

The Finnish-language teacher, who was in her thirties, told us to pray at home if we wanted to.

“Some of us wanted to complain to the principle of the school but the teacher said that we had to talk to her first before we could see the principle,” she said. “Nobody ever did because we feared that she’d make our lives even more difficult in class.”

The Somali said that the teacher never gave any encouragement to the students.

“It was horrible,” she concluded.”I cried every day when I went to her class and so did the other classmates.”