A question I get asked often is some version of this:
I’d like to learn Finnish, but have no idea where to start. What would you recommend?
There are many good ways to learn languages, and you’re the best judge of what would work for you best.
Here are some things to think about as you start your journey:
1. Your goal(s). I think the main consideration before you start is your goal: where do you want to be with your Finnish language skills in a year? Two years? Five? When I ask this question, most people will reply that they want to be fluent in Finnish and be able to function in Finnish in every area of their lives. But really take some time to think about your goal: is there some more specific situation that you need Finnish for? Do you have Finnish relatives that you’d like to communicate with? Or would you like to be able to follow the news on Yle, or handle your everyday life in Finnish? Your goal plays a big role in determining what steps make the most sense.
2. Time and energy. How many hours of studying and practicing are you willing to put in? In general, the more time and energy you’re able to dedicate to your studies, the better and faster the results will be. However, learning languages always takes time, and there’s a limit to how much we can absorb each day, so it’s important to find a balance that works for you. Taking enough time to rest and process things is also a big part of learning Finnish.
3. What is fun for you? Learning is much more efficient when it’s enjoyable. Students often have a very fixed idea of what learning a language should look like, and a common misconception is that the only way to learn a language is to spend time studying grammar and vocabulary. There’s nothing wrong with doing that, and for me personally, it’s something that I love doing. But really think about what you enjoy, and think about how your could incorporate that in your studies. Maybe it’s attending a traditional Finnish course, but it could also be attending a dance class in Finnish, watching tv or listening to music in Finnish, or hanging out in Finnish speaking environments even if you have no idea what anyone is saying at first. It could be a gamified language learning app or other language learning games, reading, writing poems… Basically, anything you can think of.
When you’ve thought about these things, you can start looking at the next steps to take. Read about those in part 2 of this post.
Picture by StartupStockPhotos