Studying Finnish – How do you even start?

Features, Self-help

Vol. 25, Issue 05, 07 October 2022

Finnish is regarded as one of the most challenging languages to learn. There are many reasons why the Finnish language intimidates new learners -verb conjugation, consonant graduation and the fact that the slightest change in a word can change its whole meaning!

However, there are ways to understand and learn Finnish effectively. First, there needs to be clarification on the part that Finnish or any other language cannot be learnt extremely fast; there are no shortcuts here. Learning a language takes time, patience, and practice and being comfortable and confident when speaking takes even longer than that. All you can do is be motivated and develop management skills. Various sources can be referred to as an aid in the learning process, some can be accessed online, free of cost while others you might need to invest in. 

Books like ‘Teach yourself Finnish’ by Terttu Leney cover all aspects of the language Finnish and Finland itself. It is a comprehensive guide that covers from the basics to the intensive parts like being able to understand, write and speak Finnish fluently.

Note-taking is an essential part of learning Finnish

The second resource is ‘A Taste of Finnish’ by the University of Helsinki. The greatest feature of this resource is that it is completely free and accessible to everyone. Recordings are provided for improving pronunciation. It is a very compact and precise website to learn Finnish as it covers real-life situations and interactions like, ‘At the university and ‘At the dorm’ conversations. Make clear notes on the different aspects of the Finnish language and notice the general structure of the Finnish language.

Using online applications is a relatively good way of learning basic vocabulary. Applications like Duolingo and Duo cards help significantly. Their interface provides the user with flashcards and phrases that strengthen vocabulary and grammar through time. There are different words relating to various situations, for example, food, music etc.

Speaking is a vital part of learning Finnish. Watching movies, tv-series, or listening to podcasts help as well. It is a recurring issue when learning a new language that people skip speaking and listening. Focusing just on reading and taking full-length notes is not enough. Try to communicate with native speakers as much as possible. There is a possibility that a person might not have a native Finnish speaker around them and that is a valid problem. The best alternative is to speak with others and try to explain for example the Finnish numerals to them. While speaking out loud, many mistakes can be figured out.

If there are Finnish-speaking people around, go shopping, explore and engage in conversations on a regular. At first, this might be hard or even awkward, but this is even real progress is made.

Make sure to be organized and take it easy. Learning a new language later in life is relatively difficult so being hard on yourself will not either improve your skills any faster or be good for you. Learning a language is one of those instances that is like a journey. You kick off lost and confused, unaware of the linguistics of it all, but as you go on, sooner or later you start becoming more knowledgeable and linguistically aware. So, sit back, relax and take your time.

Sahar Farzand
Latest posts by Sahar Farzand (see all)