On 24th September 2020, City of Espoo organised the Hello Espoo online event for residents to explore the diversity of cultures, libraries, sport and exercises, youth centre activities as well as Finnish education in Espoo. Experts from the Education and Cultural Services of City of Espoo presented their services and answered participant’s questions.
1. Question: How can international communities get support from the City of Espoo both on organising or visiting cultural/sport events (e.g. financial support, ticket discounts for members, locations, etc.)? This will significantly help international residents of Espoo to adopt smarter, happier and healthier lifestyle.
Answer: The Espoo Culture Committee awards project grants for cultural activities taking place in Espoo. Local culture grants are aimed to support festivals and other art events and projects. Applications can be sent online between February to August 2021, decisions are being made almost monthly on grants up to 3000€. More information on Espoo.fi/grants or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is link to the online application.
2. Question: I would like to know more about international events and sharing other culture's traditions
Answer: At the last weekend in August every year, we celebrate Espoo Day. On that day individuals, organisations and different groups can organise their own events around Espoo, indoors or in outdoors. Event services co-ordinate the celebrations and offer assitance for event organisers, for more details please follow Espoo Day in social media and online, espooday.fi . In 2021 Espoo Day will be celebrated on 27.-28. of August.In addition, local libraries welcome citizen-led initiatives and events. Please contact your local library for more information.
3. Question: What are Espoo's international cultural offerings, e.g. English language theatre?
Answer: Espoo theatre (Espoo International Theatre of Finland) offers shows from abroad. The theatre also uses subtitles in some of the Finnish language performances. Please keep in mind that covid-19 has effected touring possibilities from abroad.
4. Question: I need information on learning Finnish language, cooking, culture
Answer: Omnia adult education centre and several NGOs arrange language and culture courses. More info at espoo.fi. Libraries in Finland offer a variety of workshops and languages learning opportunities, for example language cafes. Library events can be easily found from helmet.fi in the events section, the page is very informative also in English.
1. Question: Are there spaces that could be booked e.g. for teaching and rehearsing folk dances from different countries?
Answer: Espoo based organisations and clubs can use the schools gymnastic halls in the evenings when school is out. Information, conditions and a list of halls available to be found at espoo.fi.
2. Question: How can we recommend interesting books/magazines in English and other foreign languages to city libraries for purchasing?
Answer: You can always talk to the library staff about your wishes, but more official way would be filling in a acquisition form on helmet.fi page.
3. Question: Hello, I had requested Helmet for 1 english book. Their reply:"Thank you for your message! Unfortunately we have a quite tight budget at the moment, and save money for new books. As this is over 10 years old, it doesn’t meet our criteria".I can understand and of course there are plenty of other books I could read or buy myself but if they are low on budget why don't they charge minimal fees like deposit when they take new members?
Answer: We are very proud of our equal and progressive library system. What makes it truly equal is that there are no fees, not even minimal ones to join in as a customer. Only overdue loans are subject to overdue fees and interlibrary loans outside the district are subject to a fee.
4. Question: How to reserve public premises and equipment in Espoo?
Answer: Through Varaamo.espoo.fi, you can reserve public premises and equipment for your own use.
3. Sport & Exercise
1. Question: Is Espoo planning to build more cultural and sport centers? The existing ones do not provide enough spaces.
Answer: Upcoming plans include the following venues:
- Matinkylä Ice rink - ready in 2021
- Espoonlahti district library - ready in spring 2022
- Under planning: Kameleontten to Leppävaara – track & field, floorball, futsal, handball, gymnastics
- Under planning: new football stadium to Tapiola
- Under planning: renewal of Espoo Cultural Centre in Tapiola
A new cultural house, Kannusali, was opened in August 2020 in Espoo City Centre.
2. Question: How can we find information about popular sport places and events in the city? What exercise services are there?
The city's physical activity counselling helpline gives guidance on how to find suitable sports offerings. At our espoo.fi website, you can also find more information about sports facilities, exercise classes, outdoors recreation. Events are published on espoo.fi, visitespoo.fi and also published in the Länsiväylä news paper (in Finnish). Please keep in mind that covid-19 affects the current offering of sports events and use of facilities.
3. Question: How do I find sport groups to join? What sports clubs are there in Espoo?
Answer: Sport clubs have their own websites where to find contacts. The city's Physical Activity Counselling helps to find suitable services. For instance the city's free of charge groups coached by clubs is easy way to have a taste of sport and then join the club.
4. Question: Some friendly sport/outdoor activity for Finn and foreigner networking?
Answer: Some tips for outdoor recreation:
- Oittaa (swim, beach volley, frisbee golf, football golf, winter ski-sauna-swim),
- Nuuksio national park (walking/hiking) - Keskuspuisto/central park area (jogging, cycling),
- Puolarmaari tennis (outdoor gym, pump track, basketball court, frisbee golf, winter time ice rink)
- Rantaraitti – coastline from almost border of Helsinki to border of Kirkkonummi. Nice cafeterias during the route.
5. Question: I need more gyms and sports activities during this exceptional times.
Answer: There are many outdoor gyms in Espoo, also lots to do and sport outside in different places in Espoo. Please visit espoo.fi website.
6. Question: Are there plans to increase availability of sport halls for footstall/football for non academic teams to train amateur teams?
Answer: For more information on available time slots, please check reservation of sports facilities.
7. Question: Free activities and sports events
Answer: For families, kids, teens we have free of charge groups that will be found from harrastushaku.fi or at espoo.fi website.
8. Question: Light sport activities for kids
Answer: Sports clubs have groups for "light" level, as well as for more ambitious sports. We also advice you to utilize our sport centers = urheilupuisto (in Leppävaara, Espoonlahti, Tapiola, Keski-Espoo).
9. Question: Hobby group possibilities? Sport for English speaking adults?
Answer: The city's sports services welcome all residents. Knowledge of Finnish language is not required to be able to join a group or a team.
10. Question: Do you have some sport activities or group for adults 25+ or for people above 30 years old?
Answer: Please find more information about sport activities or group for adults at espoo.fi
11. Question: Can I have more information about outdoor sport such as snowboard, rock climbing,sailing and skiff paddle?
Answer: These sports are offered by companies. Sailing is offered also by clubs.
12. Question: Free or discount swimming and yoga for students
Answer: Students are allowed discounts at swimming halls according to the list of fees on this page (see "Others"). To find yoga classes arranged by the city, please contactthe Physical Activity Counselling. Yoga lessons are also provided by e.g. private yoga studios. Some may offer students discounts.
4. Youth centre activities
1. Question: What is the age band of youth centre activities?
Answer: Our main focus group: 12 to 17 years old young people, hobby groups for younger people, up from 9 years old
2. Question: Ideas for activities for kids/youth
Answer: Harrastushaku is a search engine (also in ENG) for the whole metropolitan area to look for hobbies and activities for children & young people. More info at harrastushaku.fi
Basic education in the arts is a unique Finnish system through which non-profit organisations offer high-quality arts education to children & young people. More info at espoo.fi
3. Question: How welcoming are the youth centres for kids who don't yet speak much Finnish? The perception is that they will not be able to communicate or get involved so they don't want to try these activities.
Answer: Thank you for your question. We are continuously working to improve the participation possibilities for the increasingly diverse young citizens. We warmly welcome all young people to try activities in Youth centres.
5. Early childhood education
1. Question: Activities for a 1 year old baby & for 2 years old baby
Answer: Open early childhood education services provide an alternative to traditional day care. Open early childhood education services are primarily for families and are usually free of charge. They give parents the chance to meet other families and allow their children to make new friends and practice important social skills together with other children and adults. More info at espoo.fi
2. Question: Support for families (e.g. therapies, kids with special needs, ...)
Answer: If the child’s need for support is known when applying for early childhood education, it is recommended to mention it in the early childhood education application. The goal of early childhood education is to promote the child’s balanced growth, development and learning. It is vital for the child’s development and learning that his/her need for support is identified as early as possible and immediate action is taken. More information at espoo.fi
3. Question: Sometimes I find it hard to find all the information.When trying to find a päiväkoti I felt totally lost because I had no idea where the day care was and living at the border between Espoo and Kauniainen it was even harder since in my area all schools are Swedish speaking, therefore the nearest would be Kauniainen but we are not entitled since we live in Espoo....This was a very difficult subject to handle and find the best balance between children's care and work life!
Answer: We kindly suggest you to go to the site www.espoonvarhaiskasvatus.fi. There you can see the map in the front page where to write down your home address and language to search for the nearest municipal Finnish speaking units. The private sector units are to be found at espoo.fi
4. Question: Regarding Early Childhood Education, I would be interested in German language play groups or meetups for children around 3 years old for my son. Does something like that exist in Espoo?
Answer: Please check helmet.fi for reading groups at libraries, or post your request on the Facebook group "Expat mothers in Helsinki". Usually this kind of specific activities are organised by volunteer parents or associations. If you like the idea of the reading group you can even offer to volunteer and create one at some library. Also, for instance, the Finnish-German NGO SSYL or Goethe institute might have ideas on how to take your idea further, or even have ready-made opportunities.
6. Finnish education
1. Question: Interested to know about the induction of English language (level, curriculum, methodology) from primary school. Any plans of English reading club for children in library /activities in English to learn language for the International community children studying in Finnish school. Like mother tongue learning programme, as globalised language enhancing English skills from childhood would be a good move.
Answer: In our libraries, we organize English Reading Club for adults and children. At Children's Land in
Entresse Library, there are reading dogs Nekku and Pätkis to listen without criticism, comments or grading. More infomation at helmet.fi
2. Question: I am quite interested about the learning opportunities in English (except Espoo International School). Any place where I could find out about them?
Answer: Please visit our espoo.fi to find out the English language learning opportunities.
3. Question: Is Espoo planning to establish more bilingual school classes in the city, especially in the Leppavaara area?
Answer: In Espoo, bilingual education in grades 1–6 is arranged in Jalavapuisto and Niittykumpu primary schools. Bilingual education in grades 7-9 is arranged in Haukilahti and Nöykkiö middle schools and in grades 1-9 in Kilonpuisto and Kuitinmäki joint comprehensive schools.
At the moment there are no plans to broaden the bilingual offerings in Leppävaara area. However, the need for bilingual services is constantly reviewed. For instance, this autumn bilingual early education is piloted in Otaniemi (at Kiviniemen päiväkoti) and Swedish-English bilingual education in Matinkylä (at Mattlidens skola). More info at espoo.fi
4. Question: I need more information about International School or seats
Answer: This Autumn Espoo International School expanded into Otaniemi. More info at espoo.fi
5. Question: Another topic would be secondary education in English.
My daughter started to learn Finnish but the progress it's very slow, I'm afraid she won't be ready by the time she will be going to secondary school to attend a Finnish school. Her performance will drop and for sure the enthusiasm as well and this is already disturbing me and she still has 4 more years till then but needs to be thought way in advance because schools take time to be built. Thank you for this opportunity!
Answer: We advice you to address the school directly on concerns and questions regarding your child. Espoo offers basic education in English at Espoo International School (grades 1-9, IB school). Upper secondary education is taught in English at the IB upper secondary schools. There are two upper secondary schools in Espoo which have IB-line as Etelä-Tapiolan lukio and and Mattlidens gymnasium.
6. Question: There seems to be a lack of services for english speaking students. My daughter is really struggling with the Finnish language in a regular Finnish school, but the international school is very difficult to get into. What other options do I have? She is in grade 6 currently.
Answer: We kindly advice you to address the school directly on concerns and questions regarding your child.
In Espoo, if the pupil speaks some Finnish and needs support in strengthening one's Finnish language skills, the pupil will receive preparatory education in one's own class in the local school. A multilingual pupil can study Finnish as a second language through the entire comprehensive education in the Mother tongue and literature subject. More info at espoo.fi.
7. Question: Accessibility of language classes for foreign languages as mother tongue. I am specifically interested in Ukrainian language classes for my child
Answer: Espoo offers instruction in one's mother tongue in more than 40 languages. Ukrainian is currently not a part of the offerings. For more information please find contact details here.
8. Question: What is the reason for changes of terms for creating study groups for foreign languages as mother tongue (school)? Espoo increased the minimum required number of children in order to create such a group from 6 to 12 persons. While in Helsinki minimum number is 10, in Tampere – 4 and so on. This significantly limits the accessibility for children to obtain so much needed support in their other native language studies. It would be great to have an open platform for discussing this kind of issues as a community.
Answer: Thank you for your question. The city has a certain budget to organize mother tongue lessons. The budget has remained unchanged, although the number of pupils with another mother tongue than Finnish or Swedish increases every year. The current budget does not allow teaching in smaller groups.
9. Question: About the mother who asked about second language studies. I want to add to that. While I am super grateful for the opportunity, the current format is not accessible enough. I think moving those course to online classes because of COVID has improved the situation greatly and I hope in the future Espoo can keep those virtual classes active even after corona!
Answer: Thank you for your feedback. We will take your feedback regarding the development of own mother tongue instruction.
10. Question: Hobby classes for adults and children
Answer: You can find plenty of opportunities on these websites:
- Hobbies at harrastushaku.fi
- Basic art education at espoo.fi
- Espoo City Library at helmet.fi
11. Question: Using sewing machines in schools etc - Hello, I have a question about access to sewing machines at schools. Where do I find information about it?
Answer: Sewing machines can be used in libraries. Visit Helmet page where you can find information on these opportunities in the capital area at helmet.fi.
Some Espoo school classrooms can also be booked for handicrafts, but this service is meant for clubs and educational organizations such as Omnia, not for private use.
12. Swimming Classes for English speaking Kids
Answer: Please contactthe city's physical activity counselling or the swimming club Cetus.
13. Question: Are there any online learning campus option for international students? Please inform about fee details, etc.
Answer: Online learning options are offered by most learning institutions of the city, such as:
- Omnia, Espoo Adult Education Centre offers various online courses at Ilmonet.fi.
- Aalto University
-Laurea University of Applied Sciences
- Metropolia University of Applied Sciences
14. Question: Adults education
Answer: Espoo Adult Education Centre (Espoon työväenopisto) is a learning centre for open studies, for personal choices, life-long learning and human growth. More info at espoo.fi
7. Finnish courses
1. Question: I would like to have information about Finnish language courses and Finnish learning for expat kids & family. Do you organise Finnish classes?
Answer: There are opportunities to learn Finnish :
8. Other questions
1. Question: If we have any question after the event where we can write, so that so one can guide us to right place in espoo. We have many questions.
Answer: Thank you for your question. Please send the questions through our feedback system.
2. Question: Is there a mailing list of Hello Espoo where we can keep up with these events you plan?
Answer: All of the information about upcoming events will be published on the Hello Espoo Facebook group.
3. Question: Espoo City is vastly multicultural, and has much potential in activities and education for children, youth and adults. However the possibilities (eg työväenopisto, Omnia etc) are not easily accessible to many people, and many do not have knowledge of them. How can we localize possibilities for integration, learning, and growth? With Matinkylä growing fast, for instance, could we develop CSR (social responsibility) for the local people too?
Answer: Thank you for the feedback and question. We are continuously working to find ways to promote active civic engagement. The participation and involvement of citizens is crucial in Espoo. For particular, one of the major tasks of our Active NGOs project is to encourage citizens to become civically engaged as well as motivate citizens to put forward proposals and initiatives on a wide range of issues for common solutions. More information about Active NGOs project at espoo.fi
4. Question: Some non governmental organisations that support people with immigrant background
Answer:Our ACTive NGOs project is the good practice and transfer network of cities aimed at developing and improving cooperation models between NGOs and municipalities to support all residents, also to support people with immigrant background.
Considering pandemic education system, how do we produce creative community?
Answer: The ‘Hello Espoo’ Facebook group is a platform that offers up-to-date information about city services, news, events and much more, in English. With your help, we aim to create a welcoming, positive, creative and diverse space where all English-speaking residents can participate in discussions related to Espoo services and influence decision-making in the development of the city. Join us through this link www.facebook.com/groups/helloespoo and let’s create the Espoo story together!
6. Question: There are many topics to discuss such as employment opportunities for multilingual professionals, new housing development plan by Espoo city, Integration of parents, eg mothers, entrepreneurs, men’s breakfast etc.
Answer: Thank you for the suggestion that will be discussed for the topics of the next events. Please keep in touch and see you at our next events.
7. Question: We moved to Finland in July 2020, so we would just like to know what services are available in Espoo, especially for children/toddlers. We would also like to know about events in Espoo so that we can get to know the city better!
Answer: Thank you for the comment. Looking forward to seeing you at our next events.