This page has links to the research articles published in this project.

Hahl, K., Lehtovuori, K. & Pietarila, M. (2024). Video research in language classrooms: activities and target language use in early language learning. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research.

Abstract: A compulsory foreign language in Finland starts now in Grade 1 instead of Grade 3. The change has forced teachers to adopt new teaching methods. As young learners are not yet literate, teaching should focus on oral skills and awareness in diversity. Video data from 19 early foreign language lessons of five English, German or French teachers in Grades 1 and 2 were analyzed to investigate what methods and activities were employed and how target language was used. The teachers used various engaging, multisensory activities that were mostly teacher-led and done together with the whole class. Two teachers used plenty of target language while three used mostly Finnish. Besides singing, pupils generally produced single target language words while prefabricated longer expressions were rarer. It is important for teachers to consider activities from the perspective of language use so that pupils' exposure to and practice of the target language are maximized.


Hahl, K. & Pietarila, M. (2021). Class Teachers, Subject Teachers and Double Qualified: Conceptions of Teachers’ Skills in Early Foreign Language Learning in Finland. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 13(5), 713–725.

Abstract: The shift to an earlier start in foreign language teaching in Finland took place nationwide in 2020. Both class teachers and subject teachers faced a new situation. They would be teaching children younger than before, or they would be teaching a completely new subject for them. This article examines teachers’ conceptions of the skills and qualities, including the required language skills, that are important for a teacher in early language teaching. The data for this study were gathered through essays that teachers (n=44, subject teachers, class teachers, and double qualified teachers) turned in as tasks during an in-service teacher training for early teaching of foreign languages. The essays were analyzed with content analysis. The findings show that teachers found it the most essential that early language teachers have inspiration for the job and are able to inspire learners. They also considered it important that teachers focus on the learners and the learning environment, as well as have skills for early years pedagogy. The teachers did not consider foreign language education or language skills as important as the other skills but yet wished for teachers to be able to communicate in the target language in the class.


Hahl, K., Savijärvi, M., & Wallinheimo, K. (2020). Varhennetun kieltenopetuksen käytäntöjä: opettajien kokemuksia onnistumisista ja haasteista. Teoksessa R. Hilden & K. Hahl (toim.), Kielididaktiikan katse tulevaisuuteen: Haasteita, mahdollisuuksia ja uusia avauksia kielten opetukseen (s. 77–103). Ainedidaktisen tutkimusseuran julkaisuja. Helsingin yliopisto.

Abstract (article written in Finnish): In this article we show what kind of practical experiences teachers and early childhood education personnel have had in projects related to early teaching of foreign languages (ETFL), what preparedness they have had for ETFL and what tips they have to give for its meaningful implementation. The research data was gathered as the initial survey in three implementations of in-service education for ETFL that we have analysed with content analysis. The results show that the participants (N=78) had positive experiences of their EFTL projects but they had also encountered challenges in their implementation. Practical challenges consisted of a shortage of teaching materials, large group sizes and a lack of common planning time. Pedagogical challenges included inadequate guidelines and uncertainty of teaching methods. Respondents suggested as practical tips the use of multifaceted and activating working methods, teacher cooperation, making language as part of the everyday and creating classroom routines. Based on the results and to improve practices, we recommend that time is allocated for the development of cooperation skills between different teachers, the strengthening of digital skills, and the planning of interdisciplinary learning modules together.