Past projects

Morphological deficits in specific language impairment (2005–2014)

Many children with specific language impairment (SLI) have a serious impairment in the area of grammar. The purpose of this project is to explore the possible bases of grammatical limitations. To accomplish this goal, a crosslinguistic approach is taken. The comprehension and production of grammatical forms by children with SLI across four languages, English, Italian, Finnish and Hungarian are examined. In each language, the performance of children with SLI is compared to that of three groups of typically developing children.

Program director:

  • Professor Laurence B. Leonard, Purdue University, USA

Project leader in Finland:

  • Professor Sari Kunnari

Research team in Finland:

  • PhD, Tuula Savinainen-Makkonen
  • MA, Leena Mäkinen
  • MA, Anna-Kaisa Tolonen


  • Professor Eeva Leinonen, Kings College, UK
  • Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Phoniatrics, Oulu University Hospital


  • National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, USA

Cost Action IS0804, Language Impairment in a Multilingual Society: Linguistic Patterns and the Road to Assessment (2009–2013)

The main objective of this action is to profile bilingual specific language impairment by establishing a network that will coordinate research on the linguistic and cognitive abilities of bilingual children with SLI across different migrant communities. Second objective of the Action is to reconcile the methodologies of studies of language impaired and typically developing bilingual children in order to improve comparability and to provide innovative techniques for assessing language impairment. The Action is coordinated by a Management Committee (MC), under which Working Groups (WGs) are set up. Participants of the Action come from 31 countries.

Chair of the Action:

  • Sharon Armon- Lotem, Bar-Ilan University

Vice Chair:

  • Jan de Jong, University of Amsterdam

Finnish MC members:

  • Professor Sari Kunnari, University of Oulu
  • PhD, university lecturer Ekaterina Protassova, University of Helsinki
  • MC Substitute Members: PhD, postdoctoral researcher Taina Välimaa, University of Oulu
  • Professor Arto Mustajoki, University of Helsinki


  • European Science Foundation

Stages in the phonological development of children acquiring Finnish (2006–2012)

The aim of the project is to provide new scientific knowledge on the development of phonology by 1–4-year-old Finnish-speaking children. Until now no normative data exist for phonological skills of Finnish children. We aim to get normative knowledge on developmental traits in the acquisition of phonology: what constraints there are in normal development and at which points these constraints will cease. In addition, we aim to provide systematic methods for phonological assessment and clinical practice.

Project leaders:

  • Professor Sari Kunnari and Professor Kari Suomi


  • PhD, Tuula Savinainen-Makkonen
  • MA, Katri Saaristo-Helin
  • MA, Anna-Kaisa Tolonen
  • PhD, Riikka Ylitalo


  • PhD, lecturer, Leila Paavola, University of Oulu


  • Academy of Finland, Academy Research Fellow Post and General research grant