My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

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uzzdenus
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My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by uzzdenus » Sat Mar 10, 2018 8:48 pm

Greetings!

Having survived through the first week of my Finnish classes, I've decided to share my experience with them so far. Following my initial meeting with the TE office and the linguistic assessment tests, I'd received a letter that I was placed in queue for the so-called fast group. Apparently, they have three separate groups nowadays: slow, normal, and fast. My classes started last Monday, after a two-month wait, and to no one's surprise they're indeed fast. Unfortunately, they're fast in the wrong way.

Our current pace is not fast in a progressive way that avoids unnecessary repetition and stalling, but it's rather fast in a more chaotic way, throwing my way chunks of random grammar, structures, and unnecessary vocabulary such as the words for distant relatives or the specific name of each finger. The amount of content "taught" simply leaves me no room for digestion and adaptation of the information that I receive. It's piles of intensive topics being shoveled down my throat. The situation has been worsened by a group of students who already speak some basic Finnish. They're so vocal and active, making us all look smarter than we actually are. This is not a matter of understanding, I do understand what we're doing. However the pace itself is so ridiculous that I'm already getting confused about what I already know. One week's schedule is crammed into a day and after each day, I remember less and less about what I just learned. I also understand the reasons behind the "only Finnish in class" policy and I'm not going to argue about it, but I often fail to understand some crucial explanation or simply, what I need to do for an exercise.

Finnish is the third foreign language that I've studied and also thanks to having a TESOL certificate, I have a general idea about languages. Learning a language is more about what you do after the class rather that what you do in it. In my case, I'm way too mentally drained to do anything related to Finnish once I come home and do my homework. Teaching fast does not necessarily assure learning fast. It rather leads to burn out and destroys all the motivation. This programme is ideal for people with existing Finnish skills or people who are happy to follow an extremely intensive schedule without losing their focus. As for me, it simply doesn't work. Had it worked, I could have walked into a language school and walk out discussing politics in said language after 6 months. Luckily, I'd been informed that there was an option to move to a "slower" class so I'll discuss it with TE this week.

My humble suggestion is that you contact all the language schools that TE would approve as a part of your integration plan. Don't be shy to ask them about the teaching methods they apply, the homework load, English policy, and etc. We are investing time and they're investing money so it serves us both well if we all can find the most suitable means of learning Finnish depending on our needs.



My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

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Rosamunda
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by Rosamunda » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:15 pm

I don't think you will find an integration class where English is used as a language of instruction in the classroom. There are so many people learning Finnish who have little or no knowledge of English, it doesn't make sense to use English. And, to be honest, the two languages are so different in terms of syntax and grammatical structure, it is not particularly useful to use translation as a 'method' (though later on it can be useful for understanding some of the more sophisticated aspects of syntax etc). Using English would just add to the confusion for a lot of people. There are some good websites and books available that give basic explanations of Finnish grammar in English.

You will never find a class where everyone is at a similar level in terms of fluency and accuracy. Probably some of the students who 'already speak some basic Finnish' have less knowledge of grammatical rules, spelling and syntax than you do. Their 'fluency' has come from learning the language (as you suggest) outside the classroom.

My advice would be to stick it out for a bit longer. Focus on fluency NOT accuracy. Ultimately, even if you feel the pace is too fast and you don't have time to use the language, you are probably learning more than you would in a slower group. Some of the slower groups can be really, really slow. Not just because the teaching is slower, but because the participants may have lower levels of motivation. You are probably better off in a group where the levels of motivation are higher and where at least a few of the students can speak some Finnish. That's a bonus, not a problem.

Good luck. May the force be with you. :idea:


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uzzdenus
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by uzzdenus » Sun Mar 11, 2018 8:44 pm

Rosamunda wrote:
Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:15 pm
I don't think you will find an integration class where English is used as a language of instruction in the classroom. There are so many people learning Finnish who have little or no knowledge of English, it doesn't make sense to use English. And, to be honest, the two languages are so different in terms of syntax and grammatical structure, it is not particularly useful to use translation as a 'method' (though later on it can be useful for understanding some of the more sophisticated aspects of syntax etc). Using English would just add to the confusion for a lot of people. There are some good websites and books available that give basic explanations of Finnish grammar in English.

You will never find a class where everyone is at a similar level in terms of fluency and accuracy. Probably some of the students who 'already speak some basic Finnish' have less knowledge of grammatical rules, spelling and syntax than you do. Their 'fluency' has come from learning the language (as you suggest) outside the classroom.

My advice would be to stick it out for a bit longer. Focus on fluency NOT accuracy. Ultimately, even if you feel the pace is too fast and you don't have time to use the language, you are probably learning more than you would in a slower group. Some of the slower groups can be really, really slow. Not just because the teaching is slower, but because the participants may have lower levels of motivation. You are probably better off in a group where the levels of motivation are higher and where at least a few of the students can speak some Finnish. That's a bonus, not a problem.

Good luck. May the force be with you. :idea:
Thank you so much for your constructive arguments :thumbsup: I mostly agree with them and I do accept that Finnish only policy makes sense.

I just have to insist that the pace itself doesn't seem to be sustainable for me if I'm willing to keep track of my studies and save the energy for doing anything in Finnish after the classes. I'd studied Russian for three months in a Russian-speaking country where I went to a private language school. The lessons were easy-going at a moderate pace and I was happy to pay attention during the class hours and eager to use what I learned later on. I'd made a great progress just in three months, being able to hang out (i.e. going out, doing karaoke, and getting wasted) with people who did not speak a word of English. And I was always eager for the next day's classes. I guess this is a matter of being comfortable with the pace. Surely, I could self-filter what I'm learning, focus on what seems important to me, and sort of ignore the rest without worrying about it. I also need to see what they mean by a "slower class" for the obvious reasons that you named.

Anyway, I guess I'll stick with the group for another week and decide if it's working for me. May the force be with us all!


biryvih
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by biryvih » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:21 pm

I'll add something too.

Although I have never taken any integration classes, but I was trying to learn Finnish with some online courses and stuff. In the beginning it felt the same (i.e. too fast, too complicated .. etc.). The thing which helped me the most was, people who were somewhat on advance level. I rarely understood teachers, but I would pickup words from the students and by doing that in 2 or 3 months I was able to construct my sentences.

The online classes were mainly focused on speaking. I have a problem of changing my language to English by default, and that is the biggest hurdle I had during my learning. In the beginning I was doing this a lot, and another thing which could be really bad for you is comparing 2 languages.

Finnish is different and it has its own set of rules etc, the thing which worked for me is just accepting the rules instead of fighting and arguing (i.e. why this changed and why this word is this, and why this ending is different bla bla bla) even though I have almost no knowledge of Grammar in Finnish (and in English and in my own language :ochesey: ) I can use Finnish in normal life situations, I don't use it when it goes too technical (I don't know enough vocabulary) but I enjoy learning this language now ( I am not a language person at all)...

So, stick with your course. The people (students) around you will be the one who will teach you the most. And don't think too much about the grammar (I think in spoken Finnish, it is hard to find grammar for average joe) and accept it.

If I want to make an argument I can do this.. Many people say why many words change in Finnish bla bla, I was saying this (I can be wrong) but we can find a lot examples in english.. e.g.
Friendship = Friend+Ship (2 different words combined and the meaning changed, but we never argued on that), I can't think of any other example :D but you got the point.. So stick with it, a month or 2 later you'll see the difference!

Cheers :beer_yum:


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uzzdenus
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by uzzdenus » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:33 pm

biryvih wrote:
Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:21 pm
I'll add something too.

Although I have never taken any integration classes, but I was trying to learn Finnish with some online courses and stuff. In the beginning it felt the same (i.e. too fast, too complicated .. etc.). The thing which helped me the most was, people who were somewhat on advance level. I rarely understood teachers, but I would pickup words from the students and by doing that in 2 or 3 months I was able to construct my sentences.

That's a good suggestion!

Now I don't "judge" Finnish grammar since that's just the way it is as it goes with all languages. The main issue that I have is with the amount and pace of random and intensive content being thrown at me. However, I've decided to relax, self-filter what I'm being "taught", listen to people, and try to have a primal conversation when I get the chance. Those primal conversations are helpful for finding out which words I need the most. This pace will never cease to be illogical and against all foundations of language studies, but I'm trying to work my way around it.

Kippis! :beer_yum:


Rosamunda
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by Rosamunda » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:37 pm

Sounds like a good approach. The whole concept of Finnish as a Foreign Language is relatively new. When I came to Finland in 2001 there were very few books for learning Finnish and the ones that did exist were just awful. The courses were also really dire: rote learning of grammar rules, gap-filling inflection drills and the like. It has come a long way since then. There are some communicative courses and even the YKI test is not as grammar driven as it used to be.


Upphew
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by Upphew » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:11 pm

Rosamunda wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:37 pm
Sounds like a good approach. The whole concept of Finnish as a Foreign Language is relatively new. When I came to Finland in 2001 there were very few books for learning Finnish and the ones that did exist were just awful. The courses were also really dire: rote learning of grammar rules, gap-filling inflection drills and the like.
This is how I was taught English, Swedish and German in 80's and 90's. No wonder that Finnish has been taught with same principles. Did you get scolded if you made mistakes?
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uzzdenus
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by uzzdenus » Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:21 pm

Rosamunda wrote:
Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:37 pm
Sounds like a good approach. The whole concept of Finnish as a Foreign Language is relatively new. When I came to Finland in 2001 there were very few books for learning Finnish and the ones that did exist were just awful. The courses were also really dire: rote learning of grammar rules, gap-filling inflection drills and the like. It has come a long way since then. There are some communicative courses and even the YKI test is not as grammar driven as it used to be.
It's hard to imagine that it used to be worse although I get your point.

As for my situation, I've decided to request to be transferred to a "slower" class as I see no light at the end of this tunnel. The way we're being "taught" defies all commonly acknowledged principles of language learning. Just after 9 days, here I am, looking at the 60 adjectives, 50 verbs (very useful ones, mind you. Like building or picking mushrooms.) , and more than a hundred words which stacked up in the last two days of the course. Plus the relentless grammar dictation for dessert. I'm already struggling to understand any text that we read and I'm so confused that I remember nothing from the last week. I went over my notes with my mother in law, who is a very experienced teacher in a different field, and she expressed her opinion that the method was far from being realistic and it lacked consistency. Once again, I'd like to repeat my advice: know the best learning methods for yourself, plan your language studies, and immerse yourself in a way that you feel comfortable with it. There is no shame in being a slow learner.


Rasikko
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by Rasikko » Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:54 pm

When I took courses with Omnia, lots of people expected to be taught in english, and a lot of them did not stick around to the end. I felt I had a pretty good teacher, and if it got too tough she did switch to english from time to time.

I personally believe it is not wise to "fast track" a second language. And you must be aware of the possibility of First Language Attrition.

I'm little confused though. There is urgency among foreigners to learn Finnish, to get jobs and such, yet lately there has been a big push for Finns to learn english. O_o


Upphew
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by Upphew » Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:30 pm

Rasikko wrote:
Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:54 pm
I'm little confused though. There is urgency among foreigners to learn Finnish, to get jobs and such, yet lately there has been a big push for Finns to learn english. O_o
Imho the push has been to learn Swedish and one more language. English is dominant anyway as it is most likely the first foreign language taught and because tv, internet and video games.
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__mies__
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by __mies__ » Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:50 pm

In my opinion, the teaching method in Aalto for Finnish language class is way better compared to let us say Helsingin aikuisopisto.

In the two beginner's class that I attended in Aalto, the teacher explained the rules first in English. At the end of each class, I felt like I was learning something and was looking forward to the next session. In another class that I attended at Helsingin aikuisopisto, the teacher used only Finnish, so it was hard to formulate a context of what she was saying if you only knew 2 to 10 words :). I felt disinterested in the end. This method I guess is good if you already know the basics.

For me, it is hard to motivate myself to come to a class if I feel that I am not progressing


Upphew
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by Upphew » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:23 am

__mies__ wrote:
Thu Apr 12, 2018 5:50 pm
In my opinion, the teaching method in Aalto for Finnish language class is way better compared to let us say Helsingin aikuisopisto.

In the two beginner's class that I attended in Aalto, the teacher explained the rules first in English. At the end of each class, I felt like I was learning something and was looking forward to the next session. In another class that I attended at Helsingin aikuisopisto, the teacher used only Finnish, so it was hard to formulate a context of what she was saying if you only knew 2 to 10 words :). I felt disinterested in the end. This method I guess is good if you already know the basics.

For me, it is hard to motivate myself to come to a class if I feel that I am not progressing
Both were integration Finnish classes?

Using English will certainly work better in Aalto as I suppose you pretty much have to have English skill to get in? I have a hunch that Helsingin aikuisoipisto has more diverse clientele. Six Finnish courses for illiterate adults...
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__mies__
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by __mies__ » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:22 pm

Upphew wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:23 am
Both were integration Finnish classes?
Not from TE integration program, but I enrolled and paid myself. I took that evening class first from Helsingin aikuisoipisto, then later in Aalto as it only cost around 30€ as compared to 100€+ in Helsingin aikuisoipisto.
Upphew wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:23 am
Six Finnish courses for illiterate adults...
All of my classmates at that time were English speakers


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petoonirti
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by petoonirti » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:14 am

Hey! I know this was posted some months ago, and your Finnish language course must be nearing its end soon, but I thought of giving you my take on their teaching program.

Firstly, I did a lot of research on this Finnish course offered by TE-office while I was on the queue for it. I learned it's different from region to region, but the teaching methods are a bit similar. However, the feedback I heard from people who got in the fast group (nopeapolku) was bad. And I mean very bad. Friends told me it was basically impossible to learn a thing in the course because of the amount of content they tried to teach in a week. Originally, I was told I'd be placed in the peruspolku (normal-paced course, which lasts around a year), but after nine months of waiting, I was informed I'd be joining the fast group. I did freak out for a moment, but it was clear to me that people who spoke more than one language were placed in the fast group. As you, I've also studied languages (my native language, and two foreign languages), so that might be the reason you got into the fast group.

All in all, I must say I did learn quite a lot during the Finnish course. I really enjoyed it. After a while I realised I shouldn't have paid much attention to other people's experiences, because the outcome truly varies on how motivated you are, and what kind of teacher you get. I do need to confess that the worst part of it was the työharjoittelu time. For my group, it came in the middle of important grammar topics. We had to interrupt our learning in order to "practice" our Finnish skills by doing some sort of internships. I would've preferred for this to take part at the end of the course, rather than right in the middle.

I took the YKI-testi in May, and I did get a B1 level in all four parts of the test. I was not expecting a higher result, though, since the course's goal is for the students to get a B1 level. Now I'm waiting for the Autumn to continue with my Finnish studies.

I truly hope your experience with the course has somehow improved since March! :)


Rasikko
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Re: My Experience With Integration Finnish Classes So Far

Post by Rasikko » Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:58 pm

Yeah, because the more languages you know, the easier it is to learn another, hence being put in a fast group. I learned three languages but 1 of them has been buried so deep in my mind that I only remember some numbers and that's latin. The other is a fan made language. My native language is english.

My experiences so far are not good either. This is partially due to the high number of students knowing english that force our teacher to switch to english a lot. You will never learn a language.. by constantly falling back onto another one. Especially one that is not even in the same language family. I'm the only native english speaker in the class and the one that speaks it the least lol.

I don't think a lot of grammar is being shoved into one week(4 weeks passed already), but a lot of complex grammar cases pops up randomly and it prompts students that were not exposed to it prior to getting in the class(like I was) to hone in on them and ask questions. Biggest example: Partitive. This grammar case just can't be explained in a small way.. and I notice my teacher tries this and runs away from the subject quickly :P

Kieltä and Kieliä. Partitive singular and partitive plural. Oh yeah buddy, those garnered A LOT of questions. "Why is it sometimes tä or iä???" "What the i at the end disappeared?".

We are not at consonant gradation yet(otherwise known as KPT), that's gonna be a trip.


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