Research projects

Take a look at some projects we are or have been engaged in.
AASIS - Automatic assessment of spoken interaction in a second language

The consortium of the AASIS project (Automatic assessment of spoken interaction in a second language, Research Council of Finland 2023–2027) combines expertise in speech and language processing, language education and phonetics at the University of Helsinki, Aalto University and the University of Jyväskylä. The current project builds on experiences gained during the consortium’s previous project, DigiTala (Academy of Finland 2019–2023). In addition to speech, we will study the influence of non-verbal features such as gaze, gestures and body movements on interaction and language assessment. The leader of the project is Professor Raili Hilden.

VIOLA - Current status of teaching foreign languages in Finland

So far there has been limited research on the classroom reality of foreign languages in Finland. Our research will provide important new insights into foreign language and second national language teaching, learning, and assessment practices in different parts of Finland. Our studies will focus on finding out what foreign language teaching is actually like, what methods and ways of working are used and effective, and what challenges teachers face. The results can be used to develop teaching, learning, and assessment practices in language teaching. The aim is also to identify possible reasons why foreign language learning has declined and provide solution to how it could be developed and made more attractive to pupils and students.

ÄIRU – MOSVE (Äidinkielenomainen ruotsi – Modersmålsinriktad svenska)

Syftet med projekten är att främja och stötta modersmålsinriktad undervisning i svenska genom att forska i och sprida information om skolämnet samt stödja de lärare som undervisar i modersmålsinriktad svenska (mosve/äiru) genom nätverksfrämjande verksamheter och mindre läromaterialsproduktion.

Projekten Äiru 1.0 och Äiru 1.1 genomförs vid Helsingfors universitet och Åbo Akademi i samarbete med Utbildningsstyrelsen och Svenska Nu-nätverket. Projektet Äiru 1.0 (09/2021-08/2023) och det uppföljande projektet Äiru 1.1 (09/2023-12/2024) finansieras av Svenska kulturfonden. För materialinsamlingen har projekten även fått finansiering av Svenska folkskolans vänner.

DigiTala – Digital support for learning and assessing second language speaking

DigiTala research project (2019–2023) develops a digital tool based on automatic speech recognition for assessing oral language skills in high-stakes tests in Finland.

Target languages are Swedish and Finnish as a second national language. When the tool has learned a sufficient qualitative model for assessment from humans, it will adapt for independent training for students from different language backgrounds regardless of time and place.

The research project is financed by Academy of Finland in 2019-2023. There are experts of language education, speech and language processing and phonetics involved in project teams by University of Helsinki, Aalto University and University of Jyväskylä. The leader of the consortium is Assistant Prof. Raili Hilden.


The Foreign Language Education group organized the 19th European Association for Language Testing and Assessment (EALTA) Conference in 13-18 June 2023. The theme of the conference was Sustainable Language Assessment: Improving Educational Opportunities at the Individual, Local, and Global level. The conference was attended by about 200 participants. You can see the programme and more information about the conference on the website.

ConnEcTEd – Coherence in European Teacher Education

ConnEcTEd is short for Coherence in European Teacher Education: Creating transnational communities of practice through virtual scenarios. It is an Erasmus+ project led by Pedagogische Hochschule Freiburg in Germany. There were altogether seven partners, the other partners coming from Norway, Croatia and France. The team leader in the project for Helsinki was Adjunct Professor Kaisa Hahl. Within the project, resources for language (teacher) education were produced and can be found on the project website.

Varpunen – Early teaching of foreign languages – Developing language teaching and teacher education

The project of Varpunen – Early teaching of foreign languages – Developing language teaching and teacher education was a government key project and funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

The project was implemented in 2018-2021 by the Faculty of Education, University of Helsinki together with the University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education HY+. The leader of the project was Dr. Kaisa Hahl.

The project developed pedagogical models for early language teaching in cooperation with subject teacher education, university teacher training schools, and schools and municipalities providing basic education, as well as other project stakeholders. The aim of the project was to enable language teachers and student teachers  to create new models for early language teaching in research-based, student-centred and cooperative ways. The project organised two implementations of in-service teacher training for subject teachers and class teachers and trained them to become tutors for local teachers. The project worked to increase the utilisation of recent research findings in teacher education and further training, and make use of best practices and models at the national and international levels. Additionally, the project produced regional and national models for the systematic development of language teachers’ and educators’ professional know-how.

SALLT – Summative assessment literacy of language teachers

A longitudinal study of pre-service and novice language teachers.

Assessing students correctly is a question of national equivalence and individual fairness, given the fact that grades are used as the basis for further education. The purpose of this longitudinal study of pre-service and novice language teachers (SALLT) is therefore to investigate teachers’ summative assessment literacy at the end of their teacher education and of first year teaching, as well as factors influencing this literacy based on teacher cognition and language assessment theories as conceptual framework. The study will focus on language teachers in Sweden and Finland from three different institutions (Stockholm University, University of Helsinki and the project leader University of Gothenburg).

Expected results will provide new insights into how pre-service teachers and novice teachers develop assessment literacy, and help to offer recommendations with direct relevance to design new assessment initiatives within teacher education and schools.