The city of Espoo leads one more time as it takes a giant step towards embracing immigrants. The city councilors took a bold step to legitimize the status of English language in its territory.
During plenary session, at the end of voting, local councilors decided by a margin of 70-4 to initiate a sweeping future plan for the region, which includes provisions to give English an official language status. Espoo is Finland’s second largest city with its population surging over 270,000.
“We cannot make it an official language of Finland, but to my knowledge this is the first city in the country taking a decision like this, to make English an official language” says Markku Markkala (NCP), Chair of the Espoo City Board.
The council hopes the move will help attract more international business to the region, giving it a competitive edge for companies who want to bring in specialist foreign workers.
In practical terms, making English one of Espoo’s official languages will mean that services like local health care, local government websites and forms will all need to be available in English.
“So much services are already available in English” says Markkala. “But when it comes to some details of their own professions in the public sector, people are afraid if they make a mistake in English. What we are going to do […] we need to invest in learning processes for them to study English, and of course making priorities, deciding which services are needed most in English” he says.
Markkala says the council’s key decisions should be published in English as well, for transparency and ease of access to local foreign residents – many of whom can cast a vote in local council elections.
Source: News Now Finland