Interaction and inclusion in multilingual workplaces - Making Waves 25/May/2023 14:00

How can language learning be supported in multilingual workplaces? Prof. Salla Kurhila (University of Helsinki) will present a model based on data from Finnish workplaces to enhance language awareness and learning in such environments.
Interaction and inclusion in multilingual workplaces - Making Waves

Interaction and inclusion in multilingual workplaces

Salla Kurhila, University of Helsinki

In the globalizing world, an increasing number of work communities operate in more than one language. In many workplaces in Finland, both the local language (e.g. Finnish) and a lingua franca (usually English) are used, and many professionals conduct (at least a part of) their work through a language that is not their first or strongest language. Sufficient language skills are of primary importance not only in finding a job that corresponds to one’s qualifications, but also in becoming a full member of the Finnish society.

In this talk, I will discuss ways to use different languages and to support language learning in workplaces where the employees have different linguistic backgrounds. I will present a model that we have developed to enhance language awareness at the workplace, and to support language learning and integration. The model is based on data (interviews, videorecordings, and ethnograrphic observation) collected in various white-collar workplaces in Finland. Through selected extracts, I will show a few practices that facilitate people’s participation in ongoing activities with varying language skills.


Salla Kurhila is a professor in the Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Helsinki. Her publications include studies on different phenomena in second language conversations, language learning in interaction, and correction and intersubjectivity in conversation. She currently leads a project on multilingual working life and participation practices (Kone Foundation, 2020–2024). 

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