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Finnish, the official language of Finland, did not originate in Scandinavia. It's actually an Uralic language, which originated about 1,400 miles east of Finland in the Ural Mountains of Russia. It's unclear when the Finnish language sprang forth, but some of its oldest words are thought to be about 4,000 years old.
Finnish is considered a fairly rare language, and it can be challenging to learn. Depending on their place in a sentence, certain words can take on up to 16 different meanings! The United States Foreign Service Institute (FSI) rates Finnish as a Category III language due to significant linguistic and cultural differences from English. This means it's considered to be a hard language for native English speakers to learn. On average, an English-speaking student will ne
ed about 1,100 class hours or 44 weeks to learn Finnish.
The Finnish language, however, is well-worth your time and effort. Learning it not only introduces you to new ways of thinking and forming thoughts, but will also put you in intimate proximity to Finnish culture. Although it might sound intimidating, Finnish uses the same writing system as English (the Latin or Roman alphabet), with the addition of two characters.
Why Learn to Speak Finnish?
The most exciting reason to learn Finnish is travel! Finland is flush with exciting, beautiful, and historical places that everyone should see. Finland has something to pique every tourist's interest, from the spectacular display of northern lights, natural beauty, and ski resorts in Finland's Arctic Lapland Province to the vibrant architecture, historic sea fortresses, and displays of the design district in Finalnd's capital, Helsinki.
If visiting a reindeer park, Santa Clause's village, basking in a sauna, or staying overnight at an ice hotel don't interest you, there are other reasons to study Finnish. Primarily, it's an international language, with about six million people who speak it worldwide. That might not seem like a big number, compared to English or Chinese, but Finnish is one of the official languages of the European Union. It's also prominently spoken in communities throughout Russia, Norway, Sweden, the United States, Brazil, and in the Republic of Karelia.
Finnish is also the official language of heavy metal music. The metal scene in Finland is one of the most well-renowned in the world. The nation's home to more heavy metal bands than any other country in the world, and many who choose to study Finnish do so in order to better enjoy the lyrics from their favorite songs.
The Best Way to Learn Finnish and What You'll Study
Although it's easy to find free Finnish classes online, by far the best way to learn is by studying with a private Finnish tutor. Classes with a private teacher will hold your interest, thanks to lessons customized to meet your needs, preferred learning style, and interests. For example, course content and teaching styles employed in Finnish lessons for children differ greatly when compared to lessons for adults. Plus, when studying with a private teacher, you'll learn Finnish fast, as you receive immediate feedback and work toward your goals.
Sample Curriculum for Beginner Finnish Classes
If you have little or no previous experience speaking Finnish, then beginner lessons are for you. You'll learn all the basics to help you navigate a vacation or begin working toward fluency. Your Finnish tutor might cover the following topics:
- Finnish alphabet and pronunciation
- Basic phrases
- Numbers and counting
- Noun cases
Sample Curriculum for Intermediate Finnish Lessons
Intermediate lessons are perfect for students who are familiar with the basics, but want to improve their skills to reach a working proficiency with the Finnish language. You'll expand your vocabulary and knowledge of Finnish syntax and grammar. Your teacher might cover the following topics:
- Verb conjugation, tenses, and moods
- Forming questions
- Interrogative sentences
- Noun declensions
Sample Curriculum for Advanced Finnish Classes
In advanced Finnish lessons, you'll learn to speak more like a native and achieve the ability to hold your own in discussions about complex ideas and topics. Advanced course content depends heavily on the student's individual interests and goals, but your Finnish teacher might choose to cover some of the following topics:
- Accent reduction
- Reading and listening comprehension
- Colloquialisms, culture, and customs
How to Find a Finnish Teacher Near You
If you're ready aloitta (to begin) learning Finnish, you'll need a teacher. A simple search on TakeLessons will direct you to experienced and qualified tutors who offer lessons both in person and online. Before selecting a private Finnish teacher, we recommend browsing several profiles and reading reviews left by other students.
The cost of Finnish classes varies, but most teachers charge a time-based rate. With a variety of teachers to choose from, you'll be able to find a Finnish tutor who fits both your schedule and your budget. Once you say hei (hello) to Finnish by signing up for private lessons, you'll be well on your way to speaking like a native.