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Basic education in different languages

The language of instruction in basic education is either Finnish or Swedish, depending on whether the child enrols to a Finnish-language or Swedish-language basic education. Some schools run by the City of Helsinki offer instruction in other languages, either partly or entirely. The pupil usually needs to pass a language test to be admitted to these options. All schools follow the Finnish national core curriculum for basic education.

Click on the titles for more detailed descriptions of different options.

See also an accessible online guide about the options for basic education in different languages:

Options for basic education in Helsinki — Guide for international families

Options in English

Basic education in English: Also referred to as English-medium basic education. Instruction is entirely in English (some compulsory studies in Finnish language and literature are required).

Bilingual Finnish-English education: 25-50 % of instruction is in English and the rest is in Finnish.

English-enriched education: 10-25 % of instruction is in English and the rest is in Finnish.

Options in other languages

Bilingual education in other languages: 25-50 % of instruction is in the target language, and the rest is in Finnish. Available in the following language combinations: Finnish-Spanish, Finnish-Chinese, Finnish-Estonian, Finnish-Russian, and Finnish-Northern Sami.

Swedish-language immersion: Instruction is partly in Swedish and partly in Finnish. This programme is aimed at Finnish-speaking pupils and takes place in Finnish-speaking schools. A Swedish-language immersion path starts in daycare. A child should sign up at the age of 6 in pre-primary education at the latest. After pre-primary education, the Swedish-language immersion continues until the end ninth grade and basic education.

Options in private schools, state-run schools and nearby cities

There are many private and a few state-owned comprehensive schools in the Helsinki region that offer basic education in another language such as English, French, German and Russian. The neighbouring cities Espoo and Vantaa have some options, too. See the following links for more information, and contact the schools directly to learn more about their admissions. Please note that some private schools may charge school fees.




Good to know

In Finland, everybody has a constitutional right to basic education free of charge. City of Helsinki fulfils this right by offering all residents a place in Finnish or Swedish-language instruction at their local school.

Children and young people with no previous Finnish or Swedish skills are offered a place in preparatory education to help them acquire basic skills in one of the national languages. For more information on preparatory education, see Preparatory education.

In Helsinki, pupils whose mother tongue is not Finnish or Swedish can also participate in additional mother tongue instruction in their own language, or in a language they have acquired while living in another country. For more information on additional mother tongue instruction, see Mother tongue studies.

Guide for basic education in Helsinki and options in different languages

This accessible online guide introduces you to the different options that the comprehensive schools in Helsinki have to offer for those who do not know much Finnish or Swedish yet: 
Options for basic education in Helsinki —  Guide for international families

15.02.2023 12:07

Options for basic education in Helsinki

Has your family recently moved to Finland? This guide introduces you to the options for basic education in different languages in Helsinki. website

Are you planning to move or have just moved to Helsinki? website shares all the useful and practical info you need for settling in in your new hometown.