Reader Karen made a great suggestion in the comments of How to practice speaking when studying on your own.
My speaking is at a basic level and most finnish people are not accustomed to adjusting thier speach to someone learning the language so english is just easier :( Actually it may be very helpful if you can write a blog aimed at friends and partners of thoes learning finnish and how they can help us!
English speaking Finns love to practice their English, which I suppose is a good thing in many ways. However, it's not such a great thing when you're trying to learn Finnish - how do you learn a language if you never get to practice? Many Finns think that speaking English is always the considerate thing to do, but never stop to think that it's actually massively impolite to speak English to someone who's doing their best to speak Finnish. How would they feel if they tried speaking Spanish in Madrid after studying for a year (or a week, or even an hour) only to get an answer in English?
It sometimes amazes me that we're still grappling with this problem in 2018, but here we are. Finns are still very intolerant of non-native variations of their language, and lots of my students who actually speak better Finnish than English find themselves having to constantly resort to English in everyday situations to make themselves understood. Of course, not everyone speaks any English at all, so this "helpful" tendency to speak English can become very confusing very quickly. It of course gets worse if you don't look or behave in a stereotypically Finnish, so much so that many native Finnish speakers have trouble with people constantly speaking English to them.
This of course something that needs to change, but it's also something that a language learner doesn't necessarily have a lot of power over. So what can you do to help your Finnish friends and family help you learn Finnish?
Lots of people have written excellent texts on this subject in Finnish, so point your near and dear Finns in the right direction. I recommend this text from Maisa Martin. It was written 10 years ago but things unfortunately haven't changed that much from 2008. For practical suggestions that any native speaker can use to help learners learn, have them check out Suomen kieli sanoo tervetuloa. It is geared towards native Finnish speakers who want to volunteer as Finnish teachers, but the method and suggestions are very practical and I think very useful for starting to speak more Finnish with family members as well.
Speaking your native language with a non-native speaker is a skill like any other skill. It's quickly learned but it does take a bit of practice and lots of patience from everyone involved. I know all too well that it can a lot feel easier to just speak English, but the benefits of practicing with a native speaker are very much worth the effort.
There's also no need to switch to speaking Finnish 100 % of the time. Like with any new thing, it's a good idea to start small - for instance, you could suggest to your Finnish speaking loved ones that you spend just 5 minutes a day speaking only Finnish together. You could try that for a week and see how that feels, then see if you want to keep doing that, or maybe even up the challenge to 10 minutes a day. Or to a half a hour twice a week, or whatever suits your schedules and needs best.
My parents live in Oslo, so I've been speaking Swedish peppered Norwegian words in Norway for many years now. In my experience Norwegians really excel at speaking Norwegian to foreigners - they all seem to automatically repeat everything several times to make sure I understood, and if I need to ask something in English they'll go right back to speaking Norwegian afterwards. I'm often thinking of my Norwegian friends when I'm speaking to my students and try to do what they do. Maybe we Finns need a Norwegian or two to teach us how?
As a native Finnish speaker, I obviously don't have much first hand experience with getting Finns to speak Finnish with me. If you do, please share your experiences in the comments, I'd love to hear about them!
Ask a Finnish Teacher / Toiminimi Mari Nikonen
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