Top Five Tips to Learn Finnish, According to a Finnish Teacher
The moment I set foot in Finland I realized being able to one day communicate in Finnish would be no easy task—and is, to this day, still unaccomplished. With its preference for double consonants, extra vowels and unique grammatical cases, Finnish is a fascinating language.
This week we had the opportunity to speak with Katri Niemi, a Finnish language teacher at the University of Eastern Finland. Through her bubbly personality and positive attitude, she encourages foreign students in her class to immerse themselves into Finnish culture and not be afraid to give the Finnish language a try. Here are her top five tips for learning Finnish.
1. Make language learning part of your everyday life
Niemi suggests making a playlist of Finnish music, watching the news or YouTube videos in Finnish, or reading anything in Finnish. Choose activities that you would do anyway. You like jogging? Perhaps your next motivational playlist contains some fine Finnish tunes. Love watching daily vlogs? How about heading to YouTube and trying to find one in Finnish?
2. Don’t waste time comparing Finnish language features to your mother tongue
“Finnish is a wonderfully quirky and fascinating language that works a bit differently than most of the languages in the world. Celebrate the unique nature of it!” encourages Katri. Instead of focusing on those aspects that seem hard (like, in my case, the correct pronunciation of ‘ä’ ), why not focus on those elements that catch your attention, like its unique rhythm.
3. Keep track of your progress
Sometimes we lose our path, we get lost in all the things we need or want to do. Focus and track. Tracking is great for motivation; it is like looking back to see how far you have gone. You can also make your progress public by recording it all on YouTube or Facebook. I bet there is a big community ready to cheer you onwards!
4. Use the language
There is no dancing around this one. You need to put your skills into good use. Best way to learn is, as one famous sports gear manufacturer might put it, “Just do it!” If you are not fortunate enough to live around Finns, there is always the Internet. There is no excuse to not use and practice what you learn. Remember that we all start as beginners and people will not judge your speaking skills.
5. Know that it is okay to not be ready
There is no way you can ever FULLY master a new language. It is a process that will take more than just a couple of years. Have some mercy on yourself; it is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect to learn thousands of words during the course of a week or to have a fluent conversation after two months of listening to podcasts. Instead, know that it is okay to make slow progress and enjoy every part of it.