The Otava Book Foundation's Study Material Prize for 2021, worth EUR 15 000, was awarded to Sonja Gehring and Sanni Heinzmann on 8 April. Their Suomen mestari series has become Finland's most popular S2 study material series. The S2 series refers to material for students of Finnish as a second language.
Sanni Heinzmann works as a lecturer in the Finnish language at the Aalto University Language Centre. Sonja Gehring teaches German at the University of Helsinki Language Centre.
The Otava Book Foundation explains the reasons for the prize:
‘Sonja Gehring and Sanni Heinzmann significantly upgraded the field of S2 teaching material in 2010 when Suomen mestari 1, their first Finnish Language textbook, was published. Suomen mestari became the first contact with the language for thousands who are studying Finnish as their second language. In the years that followed, the teaching material family grew with three more books, and Suomen mestari rapidly grew to be the country's most used S2 teaching material.
Very soon after the first part appeared, it became evident that Gehring and Heinzmann had raised the S2 teaching material available to a new level. The clarity, precision, and thoroughness of Suomen mestari earned plenty of praise from both teachers and students as soon as it came out. Gehring and Heinzmann had clearly created teaching material for a new generation.
Gehring and Heinzmann both have long and wide-ranging backgrounds in teaching Finnish to adults in different educational institutions. This experience was also passed on to Suomen mestari. The strong pedagogical skills, knowledge, and passion of Gehring and Heinzmann are reflected in the versatility of the material.
In 2020 Suomen mestari leapt into the new decade when Gehring and Heinzmann updated the first part. In doing so they listened closely to wishes from teachers and developed the content of Suomen mestari to make it more authentic and functional. Meanwhile, completely new digital material, with videos and digital assignments, for example, appeared alongside the printed material, adding new dimensions to the work of both teachers and students.
In just over a decade, Gehring and Heinzmann have proven themselves to be at the top of their class in textbook writing. They have managed both to create something new and to transform themselves according to the requirements of the day. Gehring and Heinzmann leave no stone unturned in their efforts to achieve the best possible outcome. All of Gehring's and Heinzmann's activities plainly show that they really care about their students.’
The purpose of the Study Material Prize of the Otava book Foundation is to support and encourage the development and production of high-quality content of teaching material in Finland. The prize is a recognition of a significant achievement in the production of teaching material. The teaching material prize was founded in 2012 and it is awarded annually. The prize is worth EUR 15 000.