Education for multilingual pupils

In Oulu, multilingual pupils, who do not speak Finnish, Swedish or Sami as mother tongue are provided preparatory instruction, Finnish as a second language instruction, and mother tongue instruction. The objective is to provide the pupils from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds with such skills and knowledge in basic education that they have the best possible basis to access continuous education.

Moreover, the goal is to enhance pupils’ functional multilingualism and support the development of their identity. Attention is being paid to pupils’ linguistic, cultural and educational backgrounds in teaching.

Preparatory instruction

Preparatory instruction is aimed at 6-16 years old whose knowledge of the Finnish language is not adequate enough to study in pre-primary or basic education. Both recently arrived students as well as multilingual students born in Finland can attend preparatory instruction.  Residence permit is not required for school attendance.

For pupils in grades 1-6, preparatory instruction is provided in small groups in Jääli, Kaakkuri, Kaukovainio, Knuutilankangas, Merikoski, Myllyoja, Paulaharju, and Rajakylä schools, and in Oulu University Teacher Training School Koskela. For grades 7-9, group instruction is provided in Kastelli, Kaukovainio, Merikoski and Rajakylä schools.

Inclusive preparatory instruction can also be provided for primary school aged pupils in local schools in accordance with the curriculum for preparatory instruction. The coordinator of language and cultural group education organises new pupils the preparatory instruction.

Preparatory instruction focuses on developing pupils’ language skills and competences. It prepares the pupils for pre-primary or basic education, supports their harmonious development and promotes integration.

A personal study plan will be drafted for each pupil. Preparatory instruction usually lasts one school year, but individual differences are possible. 

Studies following preparatory instruction

Following the preparatory instruction, pupils will continue their studies in a grade appropriate for their age level in their local school. Study goals and principles are common to all pupils in line with the national core curriculum. However, special attention is being paid to pupils’ linguistic abilities. Every pupil’s language and cultural identity is given comprehensive support.  

Finnish as a Second Language

Finnish as a second language (S2) instruction is aimed at a pupil whose mother tongue is other than Finnish, Swedish or Sami and whose Finnish skills are insufficient in speaking, reading, listening, writing, structure and/or vocabulary. S2 syllabus is to support multilingualism, encourage in life-long development of language skills, support integration and growth into a member of the language community as well as ensure a pupil’s linguistic competence for further education.

The objective for the pupil is to attain such basic language skills that he/she can act and study equally with others in the surrounding language community.

Instruction in mother tongue

Students are able to study their mother tongue two hours per week, provided that there are at least six pupils studying the same language in a group.

The objectives, contents, and assessment of the pupil’s learning in the instruction in his or her mother tongue complementing basic education (Core curriculum for basic education, 2014)

Oulu International School

The City of Oulu Department of Education also runs an international school - Oulu International School, OIS - for pupils in grades one to nine. Teaching and other activities are mostly provided in English. The curriculum is based on the local basic education curriculum and IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) programmes.

For more information, please visit the OIS school website.

For further information,

please contact the Coordinator for Minority Groups´ Education
Ms. Eija Laasonen-Tervaoja
tel. + 358 40 1320 463, eija.laasonen-tervaoja(at)