University Language Centres in Finland – Role and Challenges

Ulla-Kristiina Tuomi, Heidi Rontu



The present article examines university language centres in Finland, their current role, and the challenges they face. The aim is to provide a point of comparison to Ivan Poljaković’s article on language centres in European higher education. In Finland, the framework and basic functions of university language centres are well defined by legislation and long-standing practices within the universities. The strategic planning of language studies in Finnish higher education takes place on the European, national, university and language centre levels. In this process , the language centres have their own roles and responsibilities. It is also important that the centres define their particular identity and status in relation to their basic tasks. Due to their multidisciplinary nature, involving several languages and various fields, today’s language centres foster and promote interdisciplinary scholarship and research in language pedagogy. Defining the role and tasks of a language centre entails defining the kind of research best suited to its strategy and goals. Pedagogical expertise is a salient characteristic of Finnish language centres, distinguishing them from many academic fields and departments. By employing a well-conceived recruitment policy resulting in a highly professional faculty, Finnish language centres can establish a strong identity and can benefit greatly from internal expertise and know-how. In addition, active cooperation is undertaken both internally and with outside partners, for example national (FINELC) and international (CERCLES) networks. Finally, the concept of integration in language centre teaching is central. For language centres in general, the practice of integrated teaching would be an effective way of promoting their expertise and enhancing their visibility.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies