The teacher educators and researchers belonging to the Research group for Foreign Language Education are introduced here. For more information including contact information as well as current projects, please check our profiles on the University of Helsinki research portal (links in the intros). You can view our latest publications through the tab on the left.
Raili Hilden

As­so­ci­ate Pro­fessor (Language Di­dactics), PhD

Raili Hilden's field of specialization is language assessment. She has extensive experience in various developmental and administrative projects and expert duties related to language curricula, subject teacher education and assessment. She also works for the Finnish Matriculation Examination Board.

Hilden's current research activities include the leadership of the projects DigiTala (Academy of Finland), and Digisvenska (Svenska Kulturfonden), and the role of a partner PI in the project PARVI (Ministry of Education and Culture). Hilden's literary work comprises dozens of scientific articles alongside handbooks and book chapters written in Finnish, English and Swedish for multiple audiences in the field of language education.

Research interests: language assessment, language teaching, teacher education, automatic assessment, oral language skills, large-scale language testing

Hildén's profile on the University of Helsinki research portal

Kaisa Hahl

Senior Uni­versity Lec­turer (For­eign Language Education), PhD, Adjunct Professor

Kaisa Hahl is a university lecturer and teacher educator in foreign language education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. Hahl is the head of subject teacher education at the Faculty. She is also Adjunct Professor in applied linguistics with specification in multiculturalism in language education at the University of Jyväskylä. Hahl teaches in the national subject teacher and class teacher education programmes and in the international English-medium subject teacher education programme (STEP). She has several years' experience in working in different international projects that aim at enhancing teacher competences and the quality of teacher education.

Research interests: foreign language teaching and learning, early teaching of foreign languages, active language learning, internationalisation of teacher education, intercultural education, teacher identity development

Hahl's profile on the University of Helsinki research portal

Milla Luodonpää-Manni

University Lecturer (Foreign Language Education), PhD, Adjunct Professor

Milla Luodonpää-Manni is a University Lecturer in Foreign Language Education at the University of Helsinki in Finland. She was educated at the University of Turku (Finland), where she completed her PhD in French Studies in 2016. She is also Adjunct Professor with specification in qualitative methods in linguistic research at the University of Turku. Her interests include scientific writing, plurilingual competence and the interconnection between language and wellbeing.

Luodonpää-Manni's profile on the University of Helsinki research portal

Anna von Zansen

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Anna von Zansen is a postdoctoral researcher working for the DigiTala project at the University of Helsinki. DigiTala research project (funded by Academy of Finland 2019–2023) develops applications that use automatic speech recognition (ASR) in order to assess oral language skills in the Finnish Matriculation Examination, which is a national high-stakes examination taken at the end of upper secondary school. During the computerization phase of the Matriculation Examination, von Zansen coordinated the development of computer-assisted language tests and collaborated with schools. As a result, her PhD dealt with new approaches to assessing listening. Her background is in teaching languages to adults. As a teacher educator she is specialized in educational technology.

Research interests: computer-assisted testing, educational technology, foreign language teaching and learning, language assessment, listening comprehension, oral language proficiency

Von Zansen’s profile on the University of Helsinki research portal

Toni Mäkipää

Postdoctoral Researcher, PhD

Toni Mäkipää is a postdoctoral researcher in the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Mäkipää is a qualified teacher of Swedish, English, and French. He has extensive teaching experience at the lower secondary and university levels. He works actively in the Faculty’s subject teacher education programme.

Research interests: assessment, assessment literacy, feedback literacy, self-regulated learning, remote teaching, teacher education, foreign language teaching and learning

Mäkipää's profile on the University of Helsinki research portal

Minna Ahtiainen

Doctoral Student, MA

Minna Ahtiainen is studying in the Doctoral Programme of School, Education, Society and Culture (SEDUCE). She is writing her thesis in the field of foreign language education and her topic is about defining and developing culturally responsible education. Minna is a teacher of Russian and Finnish languages, but she has since 2000 worked in the Science Centre. Because of that, she has a long experience about science centre pedagogy, learning by doing -method and co-creating of pedagogical solutions. Her ambition is to plan different interactive workshops and playful learning materials. Minna has lived in Russia for four years due to work and studies.

Research interests: foreign language teaching and learning, cultural competences, dialogic pedagogy, linguistic and cultural diversities, inspiring learning methods

Franklin Nyairo

Doctoral Student, MA

Franklin Nyairo is a doctoral student whose research interests include comparative studies in curriculum, teacher education and instructional design. Franklin's research project investigates how English subject pre-service teachers in Finland and Kenya learn technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPACK) in readiness to fulfill the digitalization ethos stated in the national educational policy documents such as national core curriculum.

Nyairo's profile on the University of Helsinki Research portal 

Tanja Samulin

Doctoral Student, MA

Tanja Samulin is a doctoral student in the Early teaching of foreign languages – Developing language teaching and teacher education project. The aim of the project is to enable language teachers and teacher students to create new models for early language teaching in research-based, student-centred and cooperative ways. Tanja is also an English teacher and a translator, with interests in early foreign language teaching, English phonetics and phonology, oral language learning and proficiency, and intercultural communication.


Pirjo Harjanne

PhD, MA, Ad­junct Pro­fessor

Pirjo Harjanne is Adjunct Professor of Foreign Language Education, University of Helsinki Teachers’ Academy Fellow, and Principal Investigator. Harjanne has the qualifications necessary for a professorship in FL education (the expert opinions at Jyväskylä University, 2011 and Turku University, 2014). She has had many responsibilities in the developmental work at the Department of Education, University of Helsinki, and has a lot of experience in supervision (e.g., doctoral theses, master’s theses). She has worked as an invited lecturer and researcher at Stockholm University (2013–2014). She has contributed to international EU projects (e.g., WebCEF, CEFcult) and has a lot of international research co-operation (Japan, Chile, Spain, Sweden). She is currently Director of the national and international KIELO Project, focusing on FL teaching, studying and learning. She is also an active in-service teacher educator in Finland and abroad.

Research interests: foreign language teaching, studying and learning; communicative language teaching and practice; oral language proficiency; language and intercultural communication; FL teacher students’ cognition and professional developement during the pedagogical studies.

Harjanne's profile on the University of Helsinki research portal

Esa Penttinen

PhD (German language), PhD (Education), Habilitierter Privatdozent (Adjunct professor)

Esa Penttinen is Habilitierter Privatdozent (PD) and Principal Investigator in foreign language education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. Penttinen has the qualifications necessary for a professorship in FL education (University of Eastern Finland) and in School pedagogy (University of Jyväskylä). He has foreign language teaching and learning projects with German speaking colleagues. 

Research interests: foreign language teaching and learning, language awareness, multilingualism, authenticity, applied linguistics

Penttinen's profile on the University of Helsinki research portal