Australian Lydia Strohfeldt, 18, learned to speak fluent Finnish in under a year. The key seems to be her love for certain words. “I like words that have a lot of I sound, like ‘illalla,'” Strohfeldt said in an interview with MTV, while referring to the Finnish word “in the evening.” “Also ‘rakastaa’ (to love) is a nice word because it has ‘ärrrr,'” she continued.
One of her favorites is “ihan oikeesti,” which means “for real” – a common expression among the Finnish youth. She describes such phrases as “passionate” and even a bit “angry”; fun words, she said.
According to Strohfeldt, the partitive and the genitive are the hardest of the words with a case ending. “If I say, ‘syön omenan,’ (I eat an apple) it’s one apple. If I say, ‘syön omenaa,’ it’s a process,” she explained.
[alert type=white ]”It makes it easier that the words are pronounced as they are written.”[/alert]
Strohfeldt said that she learned Finnish while writing memos and studying the grammar. “It makes it easier that the words are pronounced as they are written. Sometimes, I wonder how in the world Finns learn English so well because the pronunciation has so many exceptions and rules,” she said. Strohfeldt, however, emphasizes the importance of courage while learning to speak Finnish, because the weight is on the grammar.
Strohfeldt arrived in Finland in January 2016 as an exchange student in the upper secondary school of the Southern Ostrobothnian city of Seinäjoki. She knew only a few Finnish words: ‘kiitos’ (thank you) and a couple of greetings. After almost a year, she even knows the dialect of Southern Ostrobothnia.
Strohfeldt’s exchange year has come to an end but she intends to maintain her Finnish skills by staying connected with her Finnish friends, and possibly by studying online in Melbourne, the second-most populous city in Australia.
You can watch Strohfeldt speaking Finnish here:
If you have difficulties viewing, you can find another clip below, at the end of the article: