Sari Kunnari

Sari Kunnari

Professor, Director of the Child Language Research Center
Speech and language therapy, Child language research


I have conducted research on typical speech and language acquisition for 23 years, with the aim of verifying language-specific aspects through cross-linguistic comparisons. Besides typical acquisition, my research has comprised two main clinical groups, namely children with specific language impairment and children with hearing impairment. I have also been a member of the management committee of three international researcher networks (COST actions) and a member of the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech.

Research interests

  • phonology, vocabulary, morphosyntax, narrative
  • speech and language disorders

Selected projects

  • 2017–2021, Academy of Finland, Speech perception and spoken language outcomes of early cochlear implantation and hearing aid rehabilitation at ages 4 to 6
  • 2010–2013, Academy of Finland, Speech perception and speech and language development in children with unilateral and/or bilateral cochlear implant(s)
  • 2007–2010, Academy of Finland, Stages in the phonological development of children acquiring Finnish
  • 2005–2009, NIH, USA, Morphological deficits in specific language impairment
  • 2001–2003, Academy of Finland, Early speech development and maternal speech to infants

Selected publications

Thesis supervisions

Doctoral theses (completed)
  • Leila Paavola (2006). Maternal sensitive responsiveness, characteristics and relations to child early communicative and linguistic development

  • Katri Saaristo-Helin (2011). Phonological mean length of utterances as an indicator of typical and impaired phonological development in children acquiring Finnish

  • Leena Mäkinen (2014). Narrative language in typically developing children, children with specific language impairment and children with autism spectrum disorder

  • Hanna Elo (2016). Acquiring language as a twin: Twin children’s early health, social environment and emerging language skills

Doctoral theses (ongoing)
  • Elisa Heikkinen

  • Anna-Leena Martikainen

  • Anna-Kaisa Tolonen

  • Krista Wallenius

  • Sini Smolander

  • Katariina Rantalainen

  • Karita Fyrsten