Current Research Projects.

Multilingual children's language development and use: Effects of early intervention on language development in first (L1) and second language (L2) from 4 years to early school years

This project investigates the effectiveness of speech-language intervention for 4-year-old multilingual children with immigrant backgrounds. Intervention is weekly language-focused small group activity in kindergarten. In intervention and control groups the development of language comprehension, language expression and literacy skills are compared five times during a 4-year follow-up. Follow-up investigations are made at 4 to 5 years before and after intervention, and after a baseline, and in early school years. The data has been collected during the years 2015-2023. 

The study provides new insights into the impact of language intervention on multilingual development. If the language intervention is found to be effective, the long-term goal is to expand the activity nationally to support the language skills of multilingual children. The aim is thus to achieve societal empowerment: to prevent the exclusion of refugee and expatriate children from education and career paths by promoting their language skills and creative thinking.

PI Minna Laakso, Research Group: Henna Ahola, Alexandra Kriikkula, Niina Nylander, Anu Saari, and Minea Tikkanen in collaboration with Minnaleena ToivolaTuomo Häikiö (University of Turku), and Sara Routarinne (University of Turku) and Eva-Kristina Salameh (University of Lund).

Publications on the pilot data collected at 2015-2016

  • Parkkunen, V., Maja, J., Laine, I., Ristimäki, E.& Laakso, M. (2019) PAULA-tutkimushanke: Maahanmuuttajataustaisten lasten varhennettu suomen kielen tukeminen päiväkotiryhmissä: Pilottiseurantatutkimus puheilmaisun ja puheen ymmärtämisen taitojen kehityksestä. Puheterapeutti 2019:3.
  • Ristimäki, E. & Laakso, M. (2017) Maahanmuuttajataustaisten lasten suomen kielen pienryhmäopetuksen vaikutus puheen ymmärtämisen taitojen kehitykseen 4–5 vuoden iässä. Teoksessa Tarvainen,S., Loukusa, S., Hautala, T. & Saalasti, S. (eds.) Yhteinen ymmärrys - havainnosta tulkintaan.  Helsinki: Puheen ja kielen tutkimuksen yhdistyksen julkaisuja 49, 64-72.

A comparative study of repair organization in conversational interactions involving participants with cognitive, linguistic, motor, or sensory-perceptual deficits (2020-2024)

This project examines repair organization in asymmetric interaction. Interactional repairs enable change and facilitate learning of language and other cognitive skills. We study conversational problems stemming from deficits in cognitive, linguistic, motor, and sensory-perceptual levels of human performance, unpack the interactional repair activities handling the problems, and the distribution of labor in repair work between the participants.

The data are videotaped conversational interactions involving participants with cognitive (dementia, autism), linguistic (adult aphasia and developmental language disorder), motor (dysarthria), and sensory-perceptual (hearing impairment) deficits. Different atypical data sets are compared with each other and with conversational interactions of adults and children without impairments.

The results provide new theoretical insight to the fundamentals of human conversational interaction in occasions of communication breakdowns and on the effects of perceptual, motor, linguistic and cognitive deficits on the management of intersubjective understanding between the interlocutors. The results will be used to develop ecologically valid assessment and intervention methods that have potential to generalize into the everyday life of the people with communication impairments.

Funding: Academy of Finland, decision no. 333858, 28.5.2020

PI Minna Laakso, Research Group Kati Pajo, Seija Pekkala, Satu Saalasti, Inkeri Salmenlinna, Leena Tuomiranta, in collaboration with Scott Barnes (Macquarie University), Suzanne Beeke (University College London), Steven Bloch (University College London), Andrea Bruun (University College London), Katie Ekberg (University of Queensland), Barbara A. Fox (University of Colorado), Carolyn Rickard (University of Colorado), Markku Haakana, and Marja-Leena Sorjonen.


  • Laakso, Minna (2020) Repair organization in linguistically asymmetric interaction: comparing child-parent conversations and conversations involving speakers with aphasia. In Gitte Rasmussen, John Rae & Ray Wilkinson (eds.) Atypical Interaction. The Impact of Communicative Impairments within Everyday Talk, pp. 257-287. Palgrave Macmillan.
Intervention of social speech comprehension in virtual reality environment

Virtual reality environment (VRE) is three-dimensional interactive environment created by computer modeling. In this recently started research project we investigate the effect of virtual reality gaming intervention on social gaze and language comprehension by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental language disorder (DLD) using digital online tracking. In particular, we examine whether VRE gaming intervention improves children's skills in social gaze and language comprehension and how massive practice in virtual environment generalizes to social interactions in everyday life by assessing real-life videos before and after intervention.

PI Minna Laakso, Research Group: Satu Paavola, Satu Saalasti, and  Raija Vanhala, Tuuli ImmonenAhmed Geneid (Helsinki University Hospital) in collaboration with Peili Vision and the VR research group of the University of Oulu: Soile Loukusa, Katja Dindar and Aija Kotila.


  • Paavola, Satu1,2, Saalasti, Satu¹, Auvinen, Jussi⁴, Siro, Topi⁴, Kauramäki, Jaakko¹, Kettunen, Nella¹, Hytönen, Eerika¹, Loukusa, Soile ³, Laakso Minna1 (2020) Intervention of social speech comprehension in virtual reality environment. Learning and Plasticity Meeting, Äkäslompolo, Finland, 5-8 April 2020.
  • ¹Department of Psychology and Logopedics, University of Helsinki, 2New Children’s Hospital, Helsinki University Hospital, ³ Logopedics, University of Oulu, ⁴Peili Vision Oy
Communication with the help of hearing aid

A comparative study of persons with acquired hearing loss within their interactions in private settings and with hearing health practitioners (2011-2014)

This closing project was implemented in co-operation with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The study examined the impact of hearing aid rehabilitation on the everyday interactions of working-aged people with mild to moderate hearing loss. The disadvantage of hearing loss is seen first and foremost in social interaction. Stressful social experiences can lead to early retirement and isolation of the person with hearing loss.

We studied the consequences of hearing loss in everyday life before, during and after acquiring hearing aids. During the follow-up of 8 months, 144 first-time hearing aid users completed three self-assessment questionnaires. For a smaller sample the visits to the hearing center (meetings with an audiometrician and/or audiologist) and interactions at work and at home were video recorded. The results of the study contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of working-aged people with hearing loss. The research also highlights the "best audiological practices" of hearing rehabilitation that can be used in rehabilitation planning and in the training of professionals.

Funding: Academy on Finland 2011-2014, The Finnish Work Environment Fund 2012-2013.

PI Minna Laakso; Research Group: Tarja Aaltonen, Vappu Carlson, Mervi Karhunen, Elviira Kontosalo, Inka Koskela, Eila Lonka, Vilma Martikainen, Tiina Pakka, Juha Ranta, Johanna Ruusuvuori, Inkeri Salmenlinna, Kati Turunen in collaboration with Kati Pajo and Antti Aarnisalo (Helsinki University Hospital) and Päivi Husman, Pirjo Juvonen-Posti, Nina Nevala ( the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health).

Recent publications

  • Pajo, K. & Laakso, M. (2020) Other-initiation of repair by speakers with mild to severe hearing impairment. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics.
  • Ruusuvuori, J., Aaltonen, T., Ranta, J., Koskela, I., Salmenlinna, I. & Laakso, M. (2019) Studies on stigma regarding hearing impairment and hearing aid use among adults of working age: a scoping review. Disability and Rehabilitation. 2019 Jun 8:1-11. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2019.1622798. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Ruusuvuori, J., Laakso, M., Aaltonen, T., Lonka, E. & Salmenlinna, I. (2019). Discussing hearing aid rehabilitation at the hearing clinic: Patient involvement in deciding upon the need for a hearing aid. Health Communication 30 May 2019, pp.1-16. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2019.1620410. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Laakso, M., Salmenlinna, I., Aaltonen, T., Koskela, I. & Ruusuvuori, J. (2019) Open-class repair initiations in conversations involving middle-aged individuals with mild to moderate hearing impairment. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 54(4), pp.620-633. doi: 10.1080/08351813.2019.1572379
  • Koskela, I., Ruusuvuori, J., Juvonen-Posti, P. Nevala, N., Husman, P., Aaltonen, T., Lonka, E. & Laakso, M. (2016) Dilemmatic group memberships of hard-of-hearing employees during the process of acquiring and adapting to the use of hearing aids. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research. 39:3, 226-–233. doi: 10.1097/MRR.0000000000000173
Child's Developing Language and Interaction

The aim of the research project is to produce new scientific information on the neurotypical development of Finnish-speaking children’s language and interaction skills. The project is basic research, which will aim at clinical applications.

Currently the longitudinal data base is used in the project What's the point in pointing? (PI Laura Kanto, University of Jyväskylä) which compares the use of pointing gestures by monolingual Finnish-speaking children and bilingual KODA children learning both Finnish and Finnish sign language.

Two types of data bases were collected in the project. Helsinki Longitudinal Child Language Corpus consists of video recorded home interactions of  five children followed from 9 months to 5 years. Helsinki Cross-sectional Child Language Corpus consists of video recorded home interactions of 30 children aged 3, 4, and 5 with a parent, and with a sibling or friend.

Interaction-focused studies looking at the development of children's interaction practices have shown how participants jointly construct interaction through both linguistic and non-linguistic means, and how children learn to revise their speech through collaborative repair work. Studies focusing on phonology mapped the acquisition of sounds by Finnish-speaking children.

The project has completed 20 scientific publications, three doctoral theses and 25 master’s theses on child language and interaction, latest in 2020.

Funding: Academy of Finland 2004-2007; Emil Aaltonen Foundation 2004-2006; Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Study 2005-2008.

Minna Laakso (PI), Research Group: Tuula Savinainen-Makkonen, Tuula Tykkyläinen, Riitta Ronkainen, Katri Saaristo-Helin, Inkeri Salmenlinna, Laura Oksala, Tuuli Salonen, Mirve Soininen in collaboration with Mike Forrester (University of Kent), Hilary Gardner (University of Sheffield), Kerttu Huttunen (Univeristy of Oulu) and Laura Kanto (University of Jyväskylä)

Selected publications

  • Laakso, M. (in press) Learning to request: the intersubjective development of children’s requesting between one and five years. In Ritva Laury, Jan Lindström, Anssi Peräkylä & Marja-Leena Sorjonen (eds.) Intersubjectivity in Action. John Benjamins.
  • Laakso, M. & Soininen, M.(2010) Mother-initiated repair sequences in interactions of 3-year-old children. First Language 30, 3/4 (Special issue on conversation and language acquisition), 329–353.
  • Laakso, M., Helasvuo, M-L. & Savinainen-Makkonen, T. (2010) Children’s early actions in learning language: A study of proto-words and pointing gestures in interaction between one-year-old child and parent. SKY Journal of Linguistics 23, 199–226.
  • Tykkyläinen, T. & Laakso, M. (2010) Five-year-old girls negotiating pretend play: Proposals with the Finnish particle jooko. Journal of Pragmatics 42, 242–256.
  • Salonen, T. & Laakso, M. (2009) Self-repair of speech by four-year-old Finnish children. Journal of Child Language 36, 855–882.
Speech and Language Therapy Interaction

There is currently little research on the interactional nature and effectiveness of speech-language therapy. This starting project aims to provide new insight into these phenomena by investigating interactional practices and communicative change in video-recorded speech-language therapy sessions, and by comparing interactional findings with the results of traditional linguistic assessment methods and self-assessments.

The study follows client-therapist interaction at different stages of the rehabilitation process. Therapy sessions from certified speech-language therapists and their pediatric clients during a whole therapy period of one year are gathered. The study outlines the stages of speech-language therapy process and conceptualizes rehabilitation in a new way. Qualitative research knowledge on interactional practices and the integration of actors' experiences builds a multidimensional perspective on the collaborative change process in speech-language therapy.

PI Minna Laakso; Research Group: Tuula Tykkyläinen and Jenni Takala.

Publications connected to the project

  • Ronkainen, R., Laakso, M., Lonka, E. & Tykkyläinen, T. (2016) Promoting lexical learning in the speech and language therapy of children with cochlear implants. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics 31, 266–282. PMID: 27808566 
  • Ronkainen, R., Tykkyläinen, T., Lonka, E. & Laakso, M. (2014) Involving parents in the speech and language therapy of children with cochlear implants. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders 5, 2, 167–192.
Aphasia, Interaction, and Intervention

This project explores conversations of people with aphasia, a language disorder caused by brain damage. It makes use of data gathered in the project Managing the problems of speaking and understanding in conversations of speakers with aphasia. The data comprise of 10 home conversations and 10 aphasia therapy conversations involving participants with aphasia.

There is research collaboration with the projects Novel word learning and its neural underpinnings in post-stroke aphasia: a longitudinal study by Leena Tuomiranta, Language Processing in Adults by Kati Renvall (University of Turku) and Morphosyntactic complexity of conversational script training and functional brain connectivity of language networks in individuals with aphasia by Alexandre Nikolaev (HCAS).

Funding: Academy of Finland, no 49250 and Academy of Finland, no 41193 2000-2002 (PI Minna Laakso).

Selected publications

  • Laakso, M. & Godt, S. 2016. Recipient participation in conversations involving participants with fluent or non-fluent aphasia. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics. 30:10, 770-789.
  • Laakso, M. 2015. Collaborative participation in aphasic word searching: Comparison between significant others and speech and language therapists. Aphasiology, 29, 269–290.
  • Laakso, M. 2014. Aphasia Sufferers' Displays of Affect in Conversation. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 47, 404–425.
  • Helasvuo, Marja-Liisa, Laakso, Minna & Sorjonen, Marja-Leena (2004) Searching for words: Syntactic and sequential construction of word search in conversations of Finnish speakers with aphasia. Research on Language and Social Interaction 37 (1), 1–37.