How do I figure out my level in Finnish?
I'm interested in your intermediate YKI course, but I'm not sure if I'm at a sufficient level. How can I figure out if I'm at the right level?
The starting level for my YKI courses is the later stages of A2, sometimes referred to as A2.2 in the Finnish system. The teaching languages of my class are Finnish and English, but at this level, you should already be able to follow a class taught completely in Finnish before you start. I will be repeating things and varying my speech tempo, and will be explaining things in English as well, but it's good to know this going in! If you're not at all familiar with A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, here's the official global description of the CEFR levels in English.
Here's some material to help you gauge your current level:
1. Speaking. Think about what you can do in Finnish. At the start of the course, you should be able to at least
- introduce yourself
- talk about your past experiences
- talk about everyday topics, like the weather, where you live etc.
- express a simple opinion
- handle everyday interactions, like buying a coffee, buying a bus ticket etc
You don't have to be able to do all this elegantly, but you have to be able to manage without resorting to English. Mistakes are normal and expected at this stage!
Making more mistakes than you used to can even be sign that you're approaching B1, or are already there: as you learn more and more, you start struggling with putting it all into practice at once, which might even feel like you're going backwards.
4. Writing. Pretty much the same as 1., speaking. So short messages in different everyday situations should feel doable for you before the course, as well as writing about the past, giving advice and expressing a simple opinion. Nothing complicated, just the likes of
Tykkään tästä, koska...
I like this, because...
2. Listening comprehension:
Try "Tehtävä 1" on this website:
You don't have to understand everything or get it all right, but it should feel at least doable at the start of the course.
3. Reading comprehension:
You should be able to read this interview quite easily:
Again, you don't have to understand all of it, but you should be able to follow the main points at least without using a dictionary or translation tool.
I hope this is helpful and I'd love to see you there!
I’ve been studying Finnish for a couple of years now, but I seem to have hit a wall. What could I do to get over this?
I feel you! With any new skill, there’s often a steep learning curve at the beginning. You easily notice your own progress, and it tends to be quite rewarding. But when you get to an early intermediate level, it can even start to feel like you’re going backwards all of a sudden. You’re actually not, you just know so much more now, and because of that it’s now much harder to put all that knowledge into practice. You find yourself making mistakes with things that you “should” know by now and you feel discouraged and like you’ll never learn.
My advice for this situation is to think about what would make learning Finnish as enjoyable as possible for you. What has been the most fun part of learning Finnish so far, for you personally? Do more of that! Or what have you always wanted to be able to do in Finnish? Start trying to do that! Try to let go of the idea of what you should be enjoying and think about what you actually enjoy. For some people, it’s really and truly conjugating verb after verb. It might be something like watching a series on Netflix, or listening to music, or a podcast, reading a blog or participating in some kind of community.
However, in my years of teaching Finnish I’ve noticed that there’s one thing that seems to be somehow above the rest: reading books in easy Finnish or selkokieli. A good simplified version of a book is just as enjoyable (or even more enjoyable!) and valuable as the original version, and for many of my students it’s been just the thing to get out of a slump. It often works even for those who don’t enjoy reading in general.
So a book in easy Finnish might be just the thing. Check out Hanna Männikölahti’s wonderful blog Random Finnish Lesson for tips on what to read. A book that I’ve often recommended to start with is Toppatakin alla on sydän (thank you Hanna for the tip). Another great one is Yösyttö, especially if you have small children. But there are lots and lots of options!
If you live in Finland, books in easy Finnish are easy to access for free at your local library, but you can also buy them online. Here is a list of free book samples in easy Finnish by Hanna. One of my favorite YouTube channels, Almost Finns, has a great video about books in easy Finnish, which is another great place to start.
Have you ever read a book in easy Finnish? What did you think? What books would you recommend? What has helped you stay motivated with your studies in the long term? Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook!
Picture by LubosHouska
What does the verb "koskea" mean?
Voisitko selittää verbi koskea englanniksi? Miten mä käytän?
Could you explain the verb koskea in English? How do I use it?
The verb koskea is quite a tricky one, as it has quite a lot of uses and meanings that all look quite different at a glance. According to Kielitoimiston sanakirja, koskea has five main meanings:
1. to touch, as in to touch something with your hand:
Lapseni koski puhelimeeni likaisilla käsillään, ja nyt puhelinkin on ihan likainen!
My child touched my phone with dirty hands, and now the phone is dirty too!
2. to get involved in something
En halua koskeakaan tähän asiaan!
"I don't even want to get involved with this", so literally: I don't even want to touch this (topic/meeting/business..)
3. affect in a negative way
Työttömyys koskee monia ihmisiä.
Unemployment affects many people.
Tämä asia ei koske minua mitenkään.
This doens't affect me in any way.
4. to cause pain (literally or metaphorically):
Vastaan koskee. = Vatsa on kipeä = Vatsaan sattuu.
(My) stomach hurts.
Minuun koskee, kun luen Afganistanin kriisistä.
Reading about the crisis in Afganistan hurts (me).
5. to concern:
Nämä ohjeet eivät koske sinua.
These instructions don't concern you (or don't affect you).
Tämä ohje koskee koko toimistoa.
This instruction concerns (= is applied to) the whole office.
So the same verb can be translated to English in many, many different ways depending on the context it is used in.
Ask a Finnish Teacher / Toiminimi Mari Nikonen
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