Go Back

Jan-Ola Östman

Jan-Ola Ingemar Östman
Born October 14, 1951, Solf

Doctor of Philosophy 1986 (linguistics), University of California, Berkeley
MA (FM) 1977 and MPhil (FL) 1981 (English language and literature), Åbo Akademi University
Master of Arts 1976 (linguistic science), Reading University

Associate professor 1989–1998 and full professor of English philology 1998-2002, acting professor of general linguistics 1993–1996, professor of Scandinavian languages 2002-, University of Helsinki
Professor II (part-time) of Scandinavian languages 2006–2010, University of Tromsø, Norway

Director of the doctoral program for language studies at the University of Helsinki 2013-

Research interests
Pragmatics, discourse and media; construction grammar and construction discourse; minorities, dialects, language contact, identity and variability; language policy, sociology of language, ideology and applied linguistics

Publications, research projects and other academic activities

Photo: Leila Mattfolk
Written by Jan-Ola Östman (Tomas Sjöblom, ed.)

Learning by teaching

I love to teach, in particular about things that are not easily available or already published. My general philosophy is that if something is published, the students can go and read it by themselves. My task as a teacher is to inspire students to question, to take risks and to think for themselves – with scientific argumentation and fearlessness as their major tools.

In 2003 I received the Eino Kaila-prize for best teacher at the University of Helsinki. In the interview in connection with the prize, I mentioned four important characteristics of a teacher: (a) taking joint responsibility with the students for their studies; (b) encouraging and inspiring; (c) giving professional and individual supervision; and (d) seeing students as colleagues. I still believe in this characterization.

Jan-Ola Östman in action. Photo: Jan-Ola Östman’s archives.


Go Back