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