What is bilingual education like?
The City of Helsinki offers bilingual basic education in English, Swedish, 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 basic education is offered at certain Finnish-language schools.
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 when all future first-graders enrol to school in Helsinki. Please note that the application period for English-language basic education ended in January.
See instructions on continuous admission below in section 'Finnish–English: Continuous admission for grades 1–9, open all year round'.
You can enrol your child electronically through the Asti online service(Link leads to external service). You can also enrol your child by visiting the school of your first priority on 24 January 2024 from 8.00–10.00.
Only Helsinki-based first-graders born in 2017 can enrol using the Asti service. If you cannot enrol via Asti, please use this separate electronic form(Link leads to external service).
Children can apply for five different schools/programmes. The options are processed in the order indicated by the guardian, so that options with an entrance exam are processed first, followed by the rest. If the child is admitted to their first choice, they will not be offered a place in other programmes/schools. After the application period all choices are binding, and if the child is admitted to a programme/school, the guardian is obliged to accept the place for them.
The decisions on pupil admission will be sent to homes via the Asti online service and post on 8 March 2024.
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.
For more information about the language test, please visit the website of the school you are interested in.
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
The application period for the school year 2024–2025 has ended. See instructions on continuous admission below in section 'Finnish–English: Continuous admission for grades 1–9, open all year round'.
The decisions on pupil admission will be posted to homes on 22 March 2024.
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.
The application period for the school year 2024–2025 has ended.
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:
- Kulosaari Secondary School, (also basic education fully in English(Link leads to external service))
- Töölö Secondary School, bilingual Finnish-English (page in Finnish)(Link leads to external service)
- Helsingin Uusi Yhteiskoulu secondary school, bilingual Finnish-English(Link leads to external service)
These schools are so-called partner schools that are private school cooperating with the City of Helsinki, but do not take part in the admission for the City's schools. If you are interested in applying to one of these schools, contact the school's coordinator or principal directly to ask about the free places and admission policies.
Register your child for bilingual Finnish-Swedish education when enrolling to school in January. Read more about enrolling to school.
There is no language test for Finnish-Swedish teaching. If there are more registered students than places, the students will be chosen at random.
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
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.
If you cannot fill in the electronic form, fill in the PDF form and submit it to the Education Division:
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.
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.
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?
- Kulosaari Primary School
- Töölö Primary School
- Malmi Comprehensive School. Bilingual education began in 2018. In the school year 2023–2024, it is available for grades 1–6.
- Vesala Comprehensive School. Bilingual education began in 2020. In the school year 2023–2024, it is available for grades 1–4.
- Laajasalo Comprehensive School. Bilingual education began in 2019. In the school year 2023–2024, it is available for grades 1–5.
- Malmi Comprehensive School. Bilingual education begins in August 2023. In the school year 2023–2024, it is available for grade 7.
- Vesala Comprehensive School. Bilingual education begins in August 2023. In the school year 2023–2024, it is available for grade 7.
- Laajasalo Comprehensive School. Bilingual education begins in August 2023. In the school year 2023–2024, it is available for grade 7.
- Helsingin uusi yhteiskoulu Secondary School
- Kulosaari Secondary School
- Töölö Secondary School