A reader writes:
I'm a complete beginner, and my only motivation to study Finnish is to pass the YKI test. I would like some guidance on how to achieve my goal as efficiently as possible, and I don't think regular language course are the way to go. Do you have a specialized YKI curriculum for beginners?
Thank you for the great question, which is something that I get asked quite often, so you’re not alone in wondering this! Unfortunately, I have some bad news for you: there isn't any shortcut to the language skills needed to pass the YKI test. Passing the intermediate YKI is a great and valuable goal, but it’s quite an impossible one to reach without acquiring basic language skills first. If your one and only goal is to pass the intermediate YKI test (the level required for citizenship), you will likely require more time to get to the required level, not less.
The YKI test is a highly practical kind of language test. It tests your ability to manage in Finnish in a variety of everyday situations, and the best possible preparation for YKI is using as much Finnish as possible in your everyday life. The required level to pass the YKI test is also quite high (YKI 3 or B1). It's a level that enables you to go about your daily life in Finnish, to read and listen to the news and even to handle more complicated things like banking and taxes in Finnish. If you have Finnish relatives, at B1 you can understand the coffee table conversations their kahvipöytäkeskustelu and participate. You can read novels in easy Finnish without too much of a struggle, you can study at vocational school (if you have support with the language), you can watch the news and television and listen to music and understand what's going on. If your goal is Finnish citizenship, wouldn't you also love to be able to do all these things? Only about third of the Finnish population is fluent in English so you're missing out on a lot if you are only communicating in English.
My number one advice for you would be a regular beginner's course in Finnish or private Finnish lessons. A good place to start looking is Finnishcourses.fi, which hosts quite a comprehensive listing of Finnish courses in the Helsinki region and in other big cities as well as online. If you’d prefer to work with a private teacher, check out Hanna’s listing of private Finnish teachers, as well as this simple padlet page which lists courses by small teaching businesses like mine.
Once you're at an early intermediate level (late stages of A2 in CEFR speak), I'd love to have you in my YKI preparatory courses, which is to what you're looking for but for intermediate learners: a specifically designed curriculum for students who are aiming for the intermediate YKI test in Finnish. Here’s a blog post to help you figure out if you’re ready.
Luckily, as the YKI is such an everyday kind of language test, attending a well designed YKI course will have the added benefit of helping you better your real life language skills as well. Some students of mine also attend my YKI courses just for the general language skills without aiming for YKI, and many also continue the course series after passing the YKI test.
I wish you the best of luck on your learning journey with this wonderful language!
I'd love to hear from those of you who have already attended a beginner's course. What worked? What didn't? Leave a comment or join the conversation on my Facebook page, LinkedIn or Twitter.
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