Finnish Teachers’ Beliefs About Students' Home Language Use



home languages, multilingual pedagogies, teachers' beliefs, language practices


This study examined Finnish teachers' (N = 691) beliefs of students use of their home languages in learning tasks and teachers' preparedness to implement the requirements of the Finnish curricula. The teachers' beliefs related to students' use of their home languages were mainly positive; however, only 7% of the teachers reported encouraging home language use, while 20% of the teachers reported preventing it. The teachers who reported tolerating the use of home languages in the classroom were more interested in whether the students accomplished the task than what language they used. However, many of the teachers (39%) required that the students report on their discussions in the language of instruction. The results indicate varying language practices, some of which are not aligned with the Finnish curricula.

Author Biographies

Jenni Alisaari, University of Turku

Jenni Alisaari has been working in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Turku, Finland 2013-2020. She has been teaching pre-service and in-service teachers on linguistically and culturally diverse education. Since fall 2020, she is working as a Senior Researcher in INVEST Research Flagship Center in the University of Turku, Finland. Her main areas of research include linguistically and culturally responsive teaching, advocating multilingualism, language learning, and language learning by singing.

Tarja-Riitta Hurme, University of Turku

Tarja-Riitta Hurme (PhD, Education) is a university lecturer in Early Childhood Teacher Education at the Department of Teacher Education, and a researcher at the CERLI, Centre for Research on Learning and Instruction, University of Turku, Finland. Her main research interest focuses on ECEC teacher's professional development, and culturally sustaining and linguistically responsive pedagogy in ECEC.  In addition, her research interest focuses also on collaborative learning processes in technology-supported as well as in face-to-face learning situations. Hurme’s research has also been focused on self-regulated and socially shared regulated learning in different learning context and domains, like mathematics and music. Her publications include both international peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and book chapters.

Leena Maria Heikkola, Åbo Akademi University

Leena Maria Heikkola works at the Department of Finnish language at Åbo Akademi University, where she also holds an adjunct professorship. Her research interests include linguistically responsive teaching, second language learning, music as a language teaching method, neurolinguistics and clinical linguistics.

Sara Routarinne, University of Turku

Sara Routarinne works in the Department of Teacher Education of University of Turku as a professor of Finnish language and literature education. Her research interests comprise systematics on classroom interaction, first and second language development and literacy education.