Bilingual education

Pupils can enrol to bilingual education from Grade 1 in primary school or from Grade 7 in lower secondary school. A pupil who is moving to Helsinki and has previously participated in bilingual education in another city can apply via the continuous admission route. The city offers bilingual education in Chinese, English, Estonian, North Sami, Russian and Spanish. Learn more about the admission criteria and different ways to apply below.

What is bilingual education like?

The City of Helsinki offers bilingual basic education in English, Spanish, Chinese, Northern Sámi, Russian and Estonian. One of these languages are used as the teaching language in addition to Finnish. About 25–50% of teaching is provided in the target language and the rest in Finnish. Each school determines in its curriculum how much teaching is given in another language

Bilingual education develops the pupil’s skills of hearing and reading comprehension, writing and oral expression. It also promotes general interest and readiness for language studies. As in basic education in general, bilingual basic education develops the pupil’s skills in all subjects based on their age level.

Applying to bilingual education

Application period in January

Application period to bilingual education is open only in January when all future first-graders enrol to school in Helsinki. The schools organise language testing quite soon after the  application period, usually in the first days of February. Details will be announced closer to the application period. The next application period will be in January 2024 and a more detailed schedule and the application forms will be published during the autumn term 2023.

How to apply

To get a place, the child needs to pass a language test, which tests the child's skills to study in another language. Register your child for the language test by filling out an electronic form or by sending the paper application by post during the application period in January .

The link to the application form will be published here in when the application period 2024 begins. 

To submit the electronic application form, you need Finnish online banking credentials. If you do not have them, or are othewise unable to tuse the electronic form, apply by filling out and posting the PDF form, which will also be published here when the application period opens. Print out the application form and post it to the school that is your first preference. 

If the child is applying to bilingual, English-language or weighted-curriculum basic education, you do not have to enrol you child to school via the Asti online service.

Please note that you can use the same application form to apply to weighted-curriculum education in music and to fully English-language classes. The child can apply to up to five different schools or programmes. Please place the options in your order of preference. When we make the admission decisions, the options will be considered in the order you have placed the in the application form. If the child gets a place in the first option, the child will not be offered a place in the second option, and so on. Once the application period ends, the choices are binding, which means that if your child gets a place, you are bound to accept the place offered for your child. 

Admission criteria for applicants in bilingual education starting in grade 1

  • Applicant to grade 1 in bilingual Finnish–English education: readiness to study in a bilingual environment. The applicant demonstrates this in a language test, which measures the applicant’s general linguistic skills and abilities. The applicant decides whether they want to take the test in Finnish or in English.
  • Other language combinations: age-appropriate skills in both languages of instruction
  • Applicant to grade 1 does not need to know how to read or write.

Language test

The schools organise the language tests quite soon after the application period, usually in the first days of February. Details for the spring 2024 test dates will be announced towards the end of 2023.

If the applicant meets the admission criteria, the school will send the applicant an invitation to the language test by post or email.

Applicant for grade 1 does not need to know how to read or write. The language test measures the child's linguistic skills in general, and there is no need to prepare for it in advance. 

If the child is in Grade 6 in a municipal school

Pupils who are currently in Grade 6 in any municipal school in Helsinki can apply on Wilma by submitting a registration form to the language test during the application period. Please note that you can use the same application form to apply to fully English-language classes and to weighted-curriculum classes. Language tests will take place after the application period, in late January or early February. Dates and times will be confirmed during the preceding autumn term. 

Applicants in other cities and abroad: use the paper application

If your child is not enrolled in a municipal school in Helsinki, apply to bilingual education starting in grade 7 by submitting the paper application. 

You can apply up to five different schools or programmes. You can use the same application form to apply to fully English-language education and to weighted-curriculum classes.

PDF application form for English-language education

The application form will be uploaded here closer to the application period.

Other school options for bilingual Finnish–English education in Grades 7–9

In addition to the municipal schools offering English-language classes, the following lower secondary schools organise basic education as bilingual Finnish-English education for grades 7–9:

If a pupil moves to Helsinki in the middle of basic education and has previously studied in bilingual Finnish–English education elsewhere in Finland, the pupil can apply for bilingual Finnish–English education if the following criteria are met:

Admission criteria for applicants in bilingual education

  • The pupil lives in Helsinki. You can submit an application before moving to Helsinki, but in order to get a school place, the pupil's address must be in Helsinki according to the Finnish population information system.
  • The pupil has received bilingual (Finnish-English) education provided elsewhere in Finland in accordance with the Basic Education Act. 
    Please note: We ask all applicants to provide certificates of previous studies in bilingual education, and if necessary, we contact the school in question to confirm the information. Studying the target language as one of the school subjects does not meet the admission criteria.
  • Based on the language test, the pupil has sufficient language skills and competence to participate in instuction both in Finnish and in English.

How to apply for bilingual Finnish–English education via continuous admission

  1. Fill in the online application form.

    Fill in the online application form below. Attach the most recent certificate or statement from the pupil’s bilingual basic education studies.

    We will request all applicants to present certificates of previous studies in bilingual basic education. If necessary, we will check with the pupil's former school to verify the information. Studying the target languages as one subject is not sufficient to meet the criteria.

    Electronic application form: Continuous admission for bilingual education.(Link leads to external service)

    If you cannot fill in the electronic form, fill in the PDF form and submit it to the Education Division:

    PDF application form, bilingual Finnish–English education, continuous admission

  2. Wait for the school to contact you to invite you for the language test.

    The education coordinator will contact you within two weeks after you have filled in the application form. During school holidays, such as during June and July, the contacting period may be longer. The education coordinator will give you instructions for taking the language test. If the criteria above are met, the child will be invited to a language test for testing your child's language skills.

  3. Take the child to the language test.

    The school will contact you to agree on a language test and place. Please note that the schools do not hold the testing events during summer holidays in June and July.

  4. Wait for the results and the admission decision.

    The decisions on pupil admission are made based on the language test results as soon after the test as possible. If your child is admitted, the school will contact you to tell you when school starts. You must accept the school place at your first convenience. We wish you all success on your school journey!

Which schools offer bilingual education?

Grades  1–6

Grades 7–9 

Grades 1–5