How to practice speaking and spoken Finnish when you're studying Finnish on your own?
This is a timely question for me, as I've only recently started spending more time in online groups for people who are studying Finnish. I've been amazed and touched by how many people all around the world are studying Finnish all on their own, often completely dependent on the free material available online. Studying any language on your own is difficult, and Finnish is definitely a challenging language in many ways. So my first piece of advice would be to find a course or private teacher if at all possible for you. There's a growing number of people teaching Finnish online (me included!), which can be helpful if there are no Finnish classes in your area.
So, on to the question! If you're studying on your own, how can you practice speaking and spoken language?
Listen as much as possible. Listening and speaking are inextricably connected. The more you listen to Finnish, the easier you'll find it to speak Finnish yourself. There are listening comprehension exercises for every level that are freely available online, but I think it's important to listen to all kinds of things in Finnish from the very beginning. Watch a movie or tv series in Finnish with or without subtitles. Listen to Finnish music. Listen to a radio program in Finnish. Even if you don't understand a thing, just getting a good feel for what the language sounds like helps so much.
Find a tandem partner. This is one of my favourite ways to study a language. Find a Finnish speaker who wants to learn a language that you speak well. Then meet up with them regularly either face to face or online. Spend half of your meetings speaking Finnish and the other half speaking your language. Free, effective and so much fun!
Talk to yourself. Stand in front of a mirror and say things in Finnish. If there's a new word or phrase that you want to learn, say it out loud, on your own, many many times. Make up a melody to go with the words or phrases. Get it stuck in your head.
Record yourself. Have some recorded Finnish at hand and repeat after it, mimicing the original version as closely as possible. Record yourself and compare your speech to the original version. Also, check out Dublearn. Dublearn is a free app that you can use to dub videos in different languages. Then you can compare your version with the original version and get feedback on your version from other dublearners. Amazingly effective silly fun!
Try to think in Finnish. Once in a while, try to switch your brain to Finnish. Even if it's just for a few minutes at a time. Focus on trying to think in Finnish, and when you inevitably find yourself thinking in another language, gently direct yourself back to Finnish. You could even use a meditation timer to keep yourself focused.
Make up your own dialogues. Think up conversations in Finnish, maybe even write them down like a script for a play. Get a friend or family member to practice them with you.
Sing in Finnish. There's a growing body of research that tells us that singing and music in general are really effective ways of learning a language. So go find a Finnish song that you like and learn it. If you can't sing, sing anyway - the point is learning Finnish, not wowing an audience.
What are your favourite ways of learning to speak?
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Ask a Finnish Teacher / Toiminimi Mari Nikonen
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