A Finn told me a short while ago: “Finnish is the language spoken in heaven” . Why? “Because it takes an eternity to learn”
So, Finnish might be a relatively tough language to learn (despite the US government rating it as having intermediate difficulty for English speakers)… this infographic below makes me very glad we didn’t move to Korea or Japan! The full sized version can be found here.
I started my Finnish 1 course this week – it has been hectic (very hectic, despite only being two and a half hours a day)! I’m very glad that we’re only having three classes this week (Thursday is Ascension day, and is a public holiday in Finland), because it will give me a bit of time to catch up on sleep and revise everything I’ve already been taught. These classes are pretty essential, since while my vocabulary was growing nicely, I now need some help with sentence construction and figuring out the meaning of all the different suffixes. The classes are held on the city-centre campus, so it means that my commute time for the day doubles (but I think I’ve already figured out my optimal route for getting to the office after the lessons). My classmates are a diverse bunch – we represent all the continents except Australia (and Antarctica of course) – and I look forward to getting to know them a bit better as the weeks progress.
Anyhow, for anybody trying to learn Finnish, we can recommend a few resources:
Byki (Before You Know It) – this is a small program that uses a simple flashcard system to teach simple words and phrases. You can download individual word lists, or buy the full version of the software which comes with a massive set of lists. What I like most about Byki is that it mixes text and audio – it is definitely worth checking out if you want to learn Finnish (or any of the other many languages for which it has lists).
We only found it recently, but Innovative Language’s Finnish Word of the Day is a great website for learning a little Finnish daily. The site doesn’t look great, but has all that it needs – audio clips and a range of sentences using the word of the day.
I (Brigitte) have recently become the impressed owner of an iphone (Pete will be taking over my older Nokia). I downloaded a few of the free apps that are available for learning Finnish but have foun them to be so limited that I have deleted them. The one app that has been most useful (in the whole 24 hours of my having an iphone…) is Google Translate. It needs an internet connection and is very hady for quick translations. With some of the translations, it also gives an abbreviated dictionary entry and an option to listen to the word spoken. This app is not only useful for Finnish / Translation but also for many many other languages. I will use it all over the world in my future travels.
This might be a little old fashioned.. but I recommend a pocket-sized English-Finnish dictionary, a notepad and a pencil. Each morning on the bus I try to read the comics in the Metro newspaper – and each time I find a word I don’t know (usually about 80% of the text) I can look it up or note it down to check it out later. We have two small English-Finnish dictionaries: the Hipoocrene Concise (by Aino Wuolle) and the Gummerus Little Yellow Dictionary (by Ilkkam Rekiaro and Douglas Robinson). Both are fine, although the second is a bit better.
One dictionary you might want to avoid – the Fitzgerald English-Finnish dictionary for the Amazon Kindle. It is far too basic to be of much use, so you’d probably want to rather buy something else! I gave it a rather unimpressed review here.
The university’s language centre has a good collection of links at their Finnish courses’ home page – you can find it here. And you can always check out Infopankki (Information Bank) – they have a long list of links here.