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All Points North #26: Allyana Thomas makes the case for fast-tracking integration in Swedish

This week's episode of APN considers whether Swedish might be an easier nut to crack when it comes to learning a new language -- and integrating -- in Finland.

Audio: Yle News

This week's very special guest is New Yorker Allyana Thomas who decided to take a different approach to integrating in Finland by studying Swedish as a pathway to citizenship. Thomas recently won a pitching competition at Helsinki's Integration 2018 event with her proposal to maximise migrants' integration through Swedish, an official minority language in Finland rooted in the same Indo-European family as English. Thomas talks about how learning Swedish has eased her everyday life while opening up new opportunities that she says are often hidden in plain sight from many newcomers.

All Points North asks whether speaking Swedish will help immigrants find jobs and if municipalities are doing enough to encourage newcomers to learn Finland's second official language, which is spoken by about 5 percent of the population.

APN also catches up with foreigners making their first foray into Swedish to find out what motivates them to learn the language.

The topic of integration through Swedish proved to be a polarising subject on our Facebook page. In the show we delve into the comments that ranged from support for Swedish as a useful societal tool to voices criticising Swedish language studies as a route that leads foreigners down a path of marginalisation.

In the top stories to hit the news this week, former US president Barack Obama spoke at the 2018 Nordic Business Forum where he held the attention of 7,500 attendees from over 40 countries. Obama's hour-long address covered topics ranging from technology an social media to artificial intelligence and called for global solutions to global problems.

Another fan favorite from this week followed an exceptional raid in the archipelago islands that led to two men being remanded in custody by the Southwest Finland District Court on suspicion of aggravated money laundering and tax evasion through the firm Airiston Helmi. Hundreds of police officers and other officials searched 17 locations and found more than three million euros in cash on the suspects' premises.

And thirdly, the city councillors of Helsinki voted this week to provide free textbooks and learning materials to all upper secondary school students. While education is free in Finland, students who study past the 9th grade traditionally have to buy their own books. The city said it expects the programme to cost about 19.4 million euros extra per year and free books will be available to all upper-secondary and vocational school students.

If you have any questions or would like to share something on your mind just contact us via WhatsApp on +358 44 421 0909, on our Facebook page or Twitter account, or at

The All Points North podcast is a weekly look at what's going on in Finland. Subscribe via iTunes (and leave a review!), listen on Spotify and Yle Areena or find it on your favourite podcatching app or via our RSS feed.

This week's show was presented by Zena Iovino and Mark B. Odom with guest Allyana Thomas. The show's producer was Lydia Taylerson, reporting was by Zena Iovino and this week's sound technician was Laura Koso.

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