Curriculum of the Language Centre

The Language Centre Curriculum (KOPS) includes a description of the Language Centre’s teaching functions, pedagogical principles, course descriptions, teaching programme and practical instructions for teaching activities. The curriculum is intended as a guide for teachers and to provide information for students. The entire Language Centre community participates in the KOPS work.
The teaching mission of the Language Centre

The Language Centre provides the communication and language studies included in University of Helsinki degree programmes to support students in their studies, internationalisation and professional growth. Field-specific and individual needs are taken into account at all degree levels. Students’ communication skills develop cumulatively so that language studies also support the development of other skills associated with academic expertise and employment, such as presentation, teamwork and problem-solving skills as well as the ability to use digital tools and make use of feedback.

The current Government Decree on University Degrees (794/2004) provides for the communication and language skills required for degrees and serves as the basis for the communication and language studies included in academic degrees. The Language Centre uses this framework to plan and offer education for field- and degree-specific needs in the native language (Finnish/Swedish), the second national language (Swedish/Finnish) and foreign languages. The content of teaching as well as pedagogical and didactic solutions are developed on the basis of research and in accordance with the University of Helsinki’s strategic plan. One of the Language Centre’s pedagogical principles is to ensure that communication and language studies form a worthwhile part of students’ degrees.

Basis for teaching

The academic and professional skills of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral graduates in all fields include language and communication skills, which are often key to describing one’s expertise and using it to succeed in the world of work.

The Language Centre enhances its language teaching by taking the multitude of communication channels (e.g., the growth of digitalisation) into account and using such channels in a pedagogically appropriate way. The Language Centre regularly assesses its teaching content and methods. Learning environments are diversified in accordance with the learning outcomes set for degree programmes and, where possible, by integrating language teaching into subject-specific studies.

Objectives of teaching

Language and communication studies are based on specific learning outcomes. The content and methods of teaching are relevant from the perspective of both studies and employment. Teaching takes field-specific and individual needs into account at all degree levels.

Language and communication studies enable students to:

  • Enhance their communication skills in the native language (Finnish/Swedish), the second national language (Swedish/Finnish) and foreign languages
  • Increase their knowledge of cultures and learn cultural sensitivity, which are needed in multilingual and multicultural groups and communities in academia and the world of work
  • Expand their generic academic expert skills (e.g., presentation, teamwork and problem-solving skills as well as the ability to use digital tools and make use of feedback)
  • Expand and diversify their language skills in a targeted manner, also learning new languages

After completing the communication and language studies included in their degree programme, students will have the communication and language skills required by the Government Decree on University Degrees.

Teaching offered by the Language Centre

The Language Centre offers teaching in following languages: Arabic, English, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, French, Swedish, German, Finnish as the second national language, Danish, Russian, Estonian, native language (Finnish) and native language (Swedish).

The Language Centre provides teaching on all University campuses. Annually, approximately 14 000 students complete a total of some 35 000 credits at the Language Centre.

Read more about the languages and teaching offered by the Language Centre.

Students can complete a module in English, Spanish, Italian, French, Swedish, German or Russian and include it in their degree as elective studies (15 or 25 cr). The module enables students to acquire diverse and profound language skills for their degree and career. 

Assessment practices

The Language Centre conducts assessment based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CEFR. Developed by the European Council, CEFR is a general framework for language learning, teaching and assessment that describes language skills on six levels, from beginner to mastery (A1–C2). The Language Centre assesses student performance based on the learning outcomes set for each course. The aim is to support the learning and development of students as multilingual communicators. 

Assessment takes place at different stages of learning and includes self- and peer-evaluations as well as assessment by the teacher. The assessment methods are diverse and flexible, and digital tools are also used. Language Centre students can also demonstrate their proficiency by taking an exemption examination in a foreign language and the second national language. Assessment is based on learning assignments, examinations, assessment discussions, learning journals, portfolios and similar means.

The required studies in a foreign language and the native language are assessed on a pass/fail basis. The required studies in the second national language (Swedish/Finnish) are assessed on the scale of good/satisfactory/fail.

Student feedback

The Language Centre maintains its high-quality operations through active assessment and development based on feedback. The assessment and development focus on the planning and provision of teaching as well as the Language Centre’s other activities.

Student feedback on teaching and learning plays a key role in the feedback system. It also provides the basis for the development of the Language Centre’s core duties and operations.

Teachers collect feedback on their courses in various ways and at different stages. Feedback is collected and processed following University guidelines. Student feedback is used in the development of teaching and courses as well as the adaptation of learning material and teaching methods. Feedback also allows students to influence the further development of individual courses.

In addition to providing feedback during courses, students can later evaluate courses, the registration process, teaching and, more generally, the Language Centre by contacting either the Centre’s student advisers or the supervisors of language units. The Language Centre also collects feedback from faculties and degree programmes.

Guidelines on the Language Centre’s teaching

The planning and provision of teaching at the Language Centre are based on the University of Helsinki’s operational guidelines, decisions and instructions on curriculum design as well as the Language Centre’s own guidelines. The following are of central importance for students:

Pedagogical principles of the Language Centre

Communication and language studies are an important part of the degree. The pedagogical principles of the Language Centre indicate what we are committed to as a community in order to guarantee quality education that supports the objectives of the degree. The principles have emerged from the collaborative work of the staff. They guide the activities and development of the Language Centre.

Internationality and cultural knowledge

Internationality and cultural knowledge are at the core of the Language Centre's activities and teaching. Cultural sensitivity is important to us. We support and exploit multilingualism and promote intercultural cooperation in all our activities.

Communality and well-being

We maintain an open and encouraging atmosphere. We engage in collaboration between languages and units, as well as between staff and students. Experimentation, transparency and a relaxed environment strengthen our sense of community and well-being. Through our quality operations, we influence the meaningfulness of our work and the well-being of our staff.

Reflective working culture

Our working culture is based on good collegial interaction, discussion and peer support. Our teaching is based on research and we develop our expertise in projects, internal training and research groups. For us, quality means the constructive alignment of teaching as well as exploratory practices that are based on a diverse feedback culture, communality, creativity and stability in employment relations.


We plan and implement teaching that takes into account different target groups and a wide range of learners. We guide students to active learning in and outside the classroom. We put effort into supportive and reflective interaction between students and the teacher, as well as among students. We support the lifelong learning of students.

Flexible learning environments and digitalisation

Pedagogically appropriate digitalisation and diverse, flexible learning environments support the active participation of students in the teaching and learning process, as well as working life skills. We enable a diverse teaching and learning process through digitalisation. We develop our digital skills purposefully.