Director’s review

The year 2021 was spent in front of screens, as remote teaching and working continued. The difference from the previous year was that, with remote practices and procedures now well established, everyone was able to focus on developing the content of their work rather than on learning how to use the required equipment. This was demonstrated by several educational innovations and, among other things, the DiGIPESU project described below.

Leena Nissilä, the new director, joined the Language Centre at the turn of the year. She started active work based on the report entitled ‘Reform of continuous learning – Structural development of the Language Centre’, published in 2020 by a University of Helsinki working group. The first steps in this work involved exploring and developing opportunities for cooperation with faculties through the Language Centre’s internal Tietyö (‘Roadwork’) project, which will continue in the coming years.

In early 2021, three new development programmes were launched, some of which will continue for several years: supervisor coaching, the development programme for work community skills and the development programme for digital skills. Some of the supervisors of language units changed, and all supervisor positions were made permanent. Coaching was used to support both new and old supervisors in facing increasingly diverse challenges. The key aims of the development programme for work community skills are to support staff inclusivity and provide opportunities to discuss matters affecting the whole community and to share insights on topics such as compassion, co-passion and positive, encouraging feedback practices. As the name suggests, the development programme for digital skills concentrates on digital work from the perspective of various staff groups. The programme also supports the objectives of the Language Centre’s communications plan, approved last autumn, which outlines principles for internal communications for all staff to follow.

To create a better financial margin, the Language Centre initiated a new budgetary adjustment programme in 2021. The aim is to bring the Language Centre’s finances back into balance by 2024. Some of the measures taken as part of this savings programme included increasing group sizes, reducing hourly paid teaching and relinquishing a number of staff work facilities. The remaining facilities were redesigned, taking into account the trend of multi-location work, on the one hand, and the need for on-site workspaces, on the other. In early autumn 2021, the Language Centre’s corridors were filled with moving crates, which were unpacked in the redesigned facilities after the turn of the year.

In 2021 the European Commission and the Language Centre organised the main event in Finland for the celebration of the European Day of Languages. The series of sessions organised for the weeklong celebration from 26 September to 2 October and the materials published for the event highlighted the importance of language diversity as well as viewpoints related to the continuous learning of languages and interaction.

Leena Nissilä’s busy term as director of the Language Centre was cut short when she moved to a new position in the autumn. She was replaced by Päivi Karimäki-Suvanto, Head of Development at the City Centre Campus, who took over as a temporary, part-time director at the beginning of October.

The Language Centre’s annual meetings with the faculties began in late autumn, providing us with valuable feedback on our activities. We also received a great deal of information about the wishes and needs of the faculties and degree programmes, which will serve as a good basis for planning the Language Centre’s new curriculum for the period from 2023 to 2026. To the Language Centre’s delight, new bilingual, i.e., Finnish- and Swedish-language, degrees (Tvex/KaTu) and the inclusion of bilingual components in existing programmes (Strimma) are being planned for the degree programmes of many faculties, even to the extent that we at the Language Centre must consider how to allocate the required resources for language support. A bilingual degree equips students for employment as bilingual experts, which improves their job prospects significantly.

For the Language Centre, 2021 was a busy year full of development activities. The implementation of the major development programmes will continue in 2022. As in past years, the Language Centre again played an important role through its core duties of providing the language studies required for degrees and supporting the University’s internationalisation. Our warmest thanks to the wonderful staff of the Language Centre, who have worked tirelessly in language teaching, translation and language revision, and who have developed their work actively, collaborating and supporting each other! Thank you also to all of the Language Centre’s supervisors for inspiring and encouraging their unit staff and ensuring their occupational wellbeing.


Päivi Karimäki-Suvanto

Director of the Language Centre


Sinikka Karjalainen

Deputy Director of the Language Centre, Head of Development