The teacher educators and researchers who belong to the Research group for Foreign Language Education are introduced here. You can find more information about each researcher from their profile on the University of Helsinki research portal (links below), including their contact information and latest publications and current projects.
Associate Professor (Language Didactics), PhD
Raili Hildén's field of specialization is language assessment. She has extensive experience in various developmental and administrative projects and expert duties related to subject teacher education and assessment of language learning outcomes. She currently acts as the chair of the Finnish Matriculation Examination Board Language section.
Hildén's research activities cover a number of national and international research and development projects aiming at improving language teaching and validity of assessment. Because of her extensive experience as a language teacher Dr. Hildén has been very active in the field of in-service training.
Research interests: language assessment, language teaching, teacher education, oral language skills, social impact of assessments, learner autonomy
University Lecturer (Foreign Language Education), PhD
Kaisa Hahl is a university lecturer and teacher educator in foreign language education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. Hahl's PhD dealt with the internationalisation of teacher education. Hahl teaches subject teacher students in the Faculty's national and English-medium international subject teacher education programmes. She has experience from several years 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, active language learning, early teaching of foreign languages, internationalisation of teacher education, intercultural education, English as a lingua franca
Current research and in-service teacher education project: Varpunen - Early teaching of foreign languages – Developing language teaching and teacher education
University Lecturer (Foreign Language Education), PhD
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. Her specialties include written and spoken academic discourse, cognitive semantics, scientific terminology and metatheory of science.
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
PhD Student, part-time teacher, project designer, MA
Toni Mäkipää is a PhD Student, part-time teacher and a project designer at the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Mäkipää is a qualified teacher of Swedish, English, and French. He has worked as a teacher at the secondary school level in Helsinki since 2016. He is currently pursuing his doctoral degree, and the topic of his article-based dissertation is feedback practices in English, Swedish, and French classes in upper secondary school, and teachers’ perceived support on their students’ self-regulated learning. Mäkipää is also a textbook writer in Tabletkoulu, and he works actively in the Faculty’s subject teacher education programme.
Research interests: assessment, formative assessment, assessment literacy, self-regulation, self-regulated learning, CEFR, foreign language teaching and learning
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 wokrshops and playful learning materials. Minna has lived in Russia for four years due to work and studies.
Interests: foreign language teaching and learning, cultural competences, dialogic pedagogy, linguistic and cultural diversities, inspiring learning methods
Technical Assistant, MA
Maija Pietarila is a technical assistant in the Early teaching of foreign languages – Developing language teaching and teacher education project. Maija is also a qualified teacher of Swedish and English with experience of teaching children, teenagers and adults. She is interested in early foreign language teaching, action-based learning and phonetics.
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.
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.
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