Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Practicing Finnish with your friends and family

I'm guessing that quite many of my readers are in some sort of a relationship with a Finnish man or a woman. These are the different situations they might be in:

  • Situation A: The Finnish learner wants to practice Finnish, and the Finnish person is happy to help. (Onneksi olkoon!) 
  • Situation B: The Finnish learner prefers practicing Finnish elsewhere, and both are happy to use some other language when communcating with each other. 
  • Situation C: The Finnish person would love to help with the language, but the other person does not want or need to learn or practice Finnish with that particular Finn.
  • Situation D: The Finnish learner would like to practice Finnish, but the Finnish person keeps using other language insted, and it's hard to change.   

A lot of times people are in the last situation. The challenge seems to be that for some reason, the Finns prefer speaking in English or other languages instead of Finnish. And since speaking English is easier, the foreigners don't bother insisting on using Finnish either. Here are the most typical excuses for this unproductive situation:

"We got to know each other in English, so it would feel weird to change the language now." 

Yes, it feels weird, but you'll get used to it. It's just adding a new aspect to your relationship! You might even learn something new about each other, and if you learn something that you don't like, it's good to know now than later, right?

"I'm afraid s/he'll make fun of me and my Finnish."

Well, s/he shouldn't. But if that happens, make it stop, unless it's actually really funny and worth the laugh. Don't take it too seriously. It's just Finnish.

"My partner doesn't have the patience to listen to my Finnish."

S/he should. I'm guessing that his/her English (or French, Spanish or any other language) isn't always music to your ears, either, so it's just fair that you both get to practice.

"I cannot express myself fully in Finnish and I don't feel like myself when speaking Finnish." 

You'll get used to it, and over it, and will learn to love your Finnish personality!

Adding Finnish gradually

  • Start texting in Finnish
  • Decide one hour a day or afternoon a week when you only use Finnish, or a room in your home where English is not allowed. 
  • Ask your friends to send you messages and emails in Finnish, or in both languages at the same time. 
  • If your partner doesn't know the answers to you grammar questions, ask your teacher or send them to askfinnish.com!
  • It is quite common that regular Finns cannot explain why something is like it is even if they can say whether something is correct or not. Also, be active and ask help with your Finnish.
  • If you have a Finnish speaking child, listen to them speak Finnish! There is also so much you can do bilingually: read picture dictionaries together, play memory games, watch childrens' programmes and movies in Finnish - and keep on making sure that you both know the words in both languages. Just be careful that you don't get too excited about it and make your kid annoyed by your Finnish studies.:)

Lue lisää: 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

About the author of this blog:

My name is Hanna Männikkölahti. I am a professional Finnish teacher who gives private online lessons and simplifies books into easy Finnish. You can contact me through www.privatefinnishlessons.com. You can subscribe to this blog from the right-hand banner. 


Nathalie said...

This article totally reflects my own experience. Another excuse I get very often: "Englanti tulee automaattisesti". Which means, whenever I try speaking Finnish, he always (I mean, always, like 100% of the time) answers in English. I go on in Finnish, he goes on in English. The only way to make him stop is to pretend I don't understand English anymore. But it's very tiring.

Also, he doesn't really make fun of my Finnish, but anytime I make a mistake (which is about every second sentence), he can't help smiling or laughing outright. He apologises later but I always feel awful, although I'm working on trying to quit caring.

Altogether, the Finns I met so far can be divided in two categories: those who think you should learn Finnish as quickly as possible, and those who think you'll never be able to because the language is too complicated for anyone who's not a Finn. I'm unlucky because my boyfriend and his family are part of the second category :( But I won't stop trying! Thanks a lot for your blog and your help!

Anonymous said...

Ajattelen kuten Nathalie, mutta en jaksa tätä suomea sanoa hyvin tätä.

I think like Nathalie, but I cannot say it well in Finnish.

Hapax Phatique

Ekaterina Trayt said...

Sometimes the hardest thing is to make Finns use Finnish with you. Some people so readily switch to English as soon as they see you're not a Finn...

There is actually a cool article on this topic:
"How to convince natives to speak to you in their language"

Maybe it'll be useful for others too here ;)

Hanna said...

Kiitos linkistä! Laitoin sen Facebookiinkin, niin mahdollisimman moni huomaa sen.

Anonymous said...

"If you have a Finnish speaking child, take advantage of it! There is so much you can do bilingually: read picture dictionaries together, play memory games, watch childrens' programmes and movies in Finnish - and keep on making sure that you both know the words in both languages."
Minun lapsen päiväkotissa kasvattaja sanoi, että minun täytyy puhua hänen kanssa vain äidinkielessä - kun hänen äidinkieli on vahva, sitten hän oppii suomen kielen nopeammin. Nyt katsomme vain äidinkielisiä kirjoja tai puhumme kirjoista äidinkielessa:(