How did you learn finnish ?

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How did you learn finnish ?

Post by JormaOikarinen » Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:18 pm

Hello ! i've trying to learn finnish for about 2 years ... I realized i can only read/say few sentences .. whenever i visit finland have to use english , and that is really annoying . I wonder which is the best way to learn finnish or any other language ... start by learning the grammar ? vocabulary ? verbs? .. i would be really grateful if a non-native finnish speaker tells me his history about the way he did it .

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How did you learn finnish ?


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Re: How did you learn finnish ?

Post by caster » Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:45 pm

Find a language school - full day school - 8 hours a day school for one year. Forget you have to learn in days or weeks or months. Go with the flow and by the end of year's study in such school you will be ready for fast track courses - stay away from school for sometime before you go to fast track school.

Stop comparing and start believing - If you are in hurry this wont work at all.
I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse. I'm gonna grant him all my old underwears that fit his head helping his nose stays in place

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Re: How did you learn finnish ?

Post by Kayttaja1 » Mon Jan 12, 2015 5:02 am

By language immersion, I was young so spoken language was easy to learn. Mastering the language took about 18 years, but now I am on native level.

Seriously, good luck to you guys. You are doing amazing job because it is not the easiest language to learn. :thumbsup:

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Re: How did you learn finnish ?

Post by Snorri » Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:09 pm

Seriously do not try to learn Finnish. It is not worth the trouble. After five years of studying you can exchange unpleasntries at a low payed job..

Use your energy on learning programming or mathemathics..

Good luck

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Re: How did you learn finnish ?

Post by ajdias » Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:30 pm

Have a look at memrise and see if their courses entice you to return to the website. Depending on your skill level, you may want to try those that teach you basic expressions (Hacking Finnish comes to mind) or those that teach specific vocab. Many courses have (partial) audio which is nice and, for the remaining you can probably find the words or expressions in forvo.
The site is designed to both maximise your memorisation of the words (heard of anki or flashcards?) and to get you hooked in learning through the use of game mechanisms.

The downside? You won't teach you much grammar and since the courses are prepared by volunteers, you will often find contradictory or incorrect translations. If you do several courses at the same time you'll get the same word with different translations (and the other being marked as wrong or incorrect in the course...) Feel free to use the button "Ignore" freely. If you can handle those minor nuisances I highly recommend it.

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Re: How did you learn finnish ?

Post by zetorpilot » Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:41 pm

What worked for me was necessity / immersion - putting myself in an environment where speaking English wasn't an option. In my previous, er.. incarnation (Academia / IT) it was just too easy to get by with speaking English - however my passive knowledge of the language must have developed during those years because once circumstances compelled me to use Finnish it didn't take long for me to become reasonably fluent. I never attended serious language classes - just the occasional lecture that was put on for the academic interest of exchange students.

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Re: How did you learn finnish ?

Post by Kembreg » Sat Feb 14, 2015 8:05 pm

I am using TeachMe! Finnish from


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Re: How did you learn finnish ?

Post by nolla » Mon Mar 09, 2015 8:08 am

JormaOikarinen wrote: .. i would be really grateful if a non-native finnish speaker tells me his history about the way he did it .
First of all, the great majority of foreigners I've met through the years didn't get too many results within the first 2 years, even when living in Finland and having at least the best opportunities to do so. A handful of people I've met did do a lot of progress fast and reached about B2 level in 1+ years. These people are the exception and certainly, at least from what I can tell are on the smartest side of the bell curve (Successful Phd students or postdocs, multilingual). Whatever our language learning abilities are, the truth is that they don't matter because in my opinion we can't change them. What matters is the amount of exposure we have to the language we are trying to learn. The more language stimuli we receive the more it will stick and we will remember. So my quick advice:
  • Learn the grammar but don't spend too much time on it. Once you learn the basics of cases and tenses, and other common grammatical constructs move on. Don't waste time in details. You will pickup the rest of it later while using the language in real life (e.g. in my case mostly while reading, or speaking with people who correct my grammatical mistakes). An excellent and very compact summary of most of the written Finnish grammar you will need is uusikielemme.
  • Once you are done with step 1, start reading real Finnish text to improve your vocabulary. It can be news or books or whatever. It takes a long time at the beginning but it's the best and easiest way to quickly increase your vocabulary. To search for the meanings of words use wiktionary, since wiktionary knows many inflected forms. The more you read the more words you'll learn. Reading will also help you pick up details of the grammar.
  • Once your vocabulary gets a little better, as for you to read and understand the big idea of normal text and infer the meaning of words from context you should start listening to Finnish. I recommend you listen to Yle Puhe or similar and see if you can understand spoken Finnish as much as you understand written Finnish. You can watch TV or movies as well. I would recommend you listen to standard kirjakieli like the one they speak in YLE or any other official programs rather than the puhekieli that is spoken in everyday life, at least at the beginning. In my opinion it's better to learn well the kirjakieli first.
  • Practice your speech as often as you can. Since it's not always easy to find some Finn willing to speak to you in your tediously slow and broken Finnish, it can be a good idea to join one of the many free Finnish conversation groups for foreigners that exist in Finland, at universities or otherwise. At least in Helsinki I've found a handful of them, the most interesting and fun being Cafe Lingua. If there are none in your area then create one. You can at least find language partners online, for example from and talk over skype.
  • Once you have done the previous steps for some time you could enroll in some course given in Finnish (at a university, korkeakoulu or whatever), the topic is irrelevant. The idea is to immerse yourself in a real and complete Finnish environment where you have to use all your Finnish language skills. This is something I still haven't done but would be interesting to do.
As for me, I currently have a level between B1 and B2 according to the Intermediate level YKI test (official Finnish language test) I took last year. This in practice means I can read most texts and understand certainly the big idea and often most of the text I read, although there are still many words I don't know. However, I can infer the meanings based on the context in many cases. I can speak in somehow simple and grammatically error prone sentences but that nonetheless carry a clear message across. My listening comprehension skills are sort of !"#¤% though since I can't understand "real conversation" very well. I can understand clearly if people make an effort to speak slowly and avoid slang and weird puhekieli grammar. In any case, this is the story of how I got where I got:
  • I came to Finland in August 2008 from Latin America (my mother tongue is Spanish) to study a MSc program (in English of course, since doing it in Finnish would have been impossible then and very difficult even now)
  • I studied traditional Finnish language courses, mostly Finnish grammar, at uni for about 1.5 years (probably about 5 or 6 courses). I never put much effort into it but I did sit, listened and tried to participate in the classroom. I mostly got !"#¤% grades on most of these courses (1 or 2 out of 5, with the exception of the basic level courses where I probably got 3s)
  • After uni, in early 2010 I started working in companies where English was the working language so my exposure to Finnish for the next 3.5 years or so stopped almost completely (other than sporadically having to read signs on the street, stores, tax forms, bank stuff, etc).
  • At the end of 2013, I realized I had already lived in Finland long enough to be able to apply for the Finnish citizenship. Although I never thought learning Finnish per se was really worth it (5 Million people who speak it at most, most of whom speak English pretty fluently anyways), getting the European citizenship was always one of the main reasons I came to Europe and stayed in Finland in the first place, so starting in 2014 I decided to improve my skills enough to pass the YKI test required in the citizenship application. Since I already knew enough grammar from uni, I decided to focus on improving my vocabulary, listening comprehension and speaking skills. In order to do so I started reading novels in Finnish and speaking with Finns and other foreigners in Finnish, mostly by finding language tandem partners and joining Finnish conversation groups. I read about two novels in the whole year (it's a super slow and tedious process specially at the beginning but really worth it) and met with the groups or language partners at least once a week for a few hours each time throughout the year (In fact I still do).
  • In October (or November?) of 2014 I took the YKI test and got the (successful!) results in December. Although now, for my original purposes I don't really need to improve my Finnish skills anymore, it seems that last year's habits stuck with me, since I have continued to read Finnish books and still meet these Finnish conversation groups. In fact these people are the only people I socialize with nowadays!

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Re: How did you learn finnish ?

Post by Spencerville Slim » Wed Jul 01, 2015 6:34 am

Sängyssä :wink: :wink: !!

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Re: How did you learn finnish ?

Post by Spencerville Slim » Thu Jul 02, 2015 12:29 am

Spencerville Slim wrote:Sängyssä :wink: :wink: !!
I should add that madame assures me that the following are compliments:

"Liian pieni."

"Liian nopea."

"Etkö tiedä ystäväni Saippuaa ja Suihkua?" I think this last one is a hint about a threesome with some of her friends (assuming Saippua and Suihku are women's names - I think that they must be since the lady's name is Sirpa, another name that starts with "s" that I had never encountered before I visited your country), but I am not sure that the partitive was necessary or appropriate. Thoughts?

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Re: How did you learn finnish ?

Post by tuttu » Sat Jul 04, 2015 12:48 am

^ lmho!

i was lucky to get a free course at - 4 mornings a week, so medium-intense.
but yes: immersion, immersion, immersion, immersion.
i moved to north karelia after 2 years and there i simply had to speak finnish.
but there's also your personal decision: i will not speak english. if a finn offers me to speak english, i say: good, you can practice your english, but i will continue practicing my finnish. usually they switch back to finnish then...
even if i cannot say what i want to say in finnish - i say something else then. speak what you can, instead of being frustrated because you're not able to say what you think.

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