Interaction research solves linguistic problems in professional life

Employers’ requirements for Finnish language proficiency and the skills of suitable employees do not always match. Salla Kurhila, professor of interactional linguistics, and her colleagues are looking for solutions to the linguistic challenges encountered at workplaces.

What are your research topics?

I study human interaction. One of my research topics has been the ways in which participants in conversation fix various problems related to interaction.

My speciality is research on second language interaction, where people do not communicate in their mother tongue.

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

A new project I am launching with my colleagues investigates the increasingly multilingual professional life. Finnish employers need employees, and people who have relocated to Finland are looking for work. This situation is often complicated by language skills. Employers can require a very solid proficiency in Finnish from the start, or they may think that the work community must begin communicating in English when a non-native language speaker arrives.

The goal of our project is to discover how the multilingual resources of work communities could be better utilised and international employees could be supported in learning Finnish at the workplace.

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

Launching a new project is inspiring. We have enormously cooperative business partners and an excellent team of researchers.

In interaction research, I am fascinated by its significance to topical phenomena; for instance, interaction on various technology-mediated platforms or human-computer interaction definitely require research that takes the social and linguistic structures of interaction into account.


Salla Kurhila is a professor of interactional linguistics at the Faculty of Arts.

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