Learning Finnish #1: My Study Routine

If you follow my blog, you might remember that I posted about learning the Finnish language about a month ago. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here. The goal was to set the rules of a new game, to set a discipline for myself so that I would not give up learning this new idiom when times get tough and things get complicated (and God knows Finnish can be very complex!). So let’s get started and see how this first month turned out and what my studying routine looks like!


001a1b33_mediumAs I said before, I am currently learning Finnish through Leila White’s From Start to Finnish (handbook and audio material). I find it is a great book for people who are not acquainted with the Finno-Ugric family of languages (e.g. Hungarian, Estonian and other minor languages many of us have never heard about!). The author takes us from the basics of the language (introductions, nationalities, places, shopping,…) to the grammatical complexities of the language in a seamless way. I also use Fred Karlsson’s Finnish: an Essential Gramar in case I need more information about a grammatical case. This book is very well structured and thorough – no wonder they give it as a mandatory reading to students of Finnish in Finland!

As I am a very visual (and organized, in case you hadn’t noticed yet) person who needs to write things down in order to remember them, I have created a folder dedicated to this activity. It is divided into 4 parts:

  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Exercises
  • Tests

Finnish Folder Finnish Folder

The great thing about this learning material is that the chapters are often short and to the point – many lessons are three pages long (texts/dialogs, grammar and vocabulary and exercises included). So far, I have been able to cover a maximum of 5 lessons per week, but I feel that I might have to slow down a little and tone it down to a maximum of 3 lessons per week because things are getting more complex. Here’s how I generally work:

  • Day 1: I usually read the dialogs, read them aloud (no matter how ridiculous I may seem – this is part of learning a new language after all!), note the vocabulary I haven’t encountered before, rewrite the grammatical theory and do the written exercises.
  • Day 2: On the following day, I study the new vocabulary discovered the day before and I actually listen to the dialog I read the day before and try to write it down. This not only improves my listening skills but also my spelling (it’s easy to miss a double vowel, for example).

After I have covered a number of 5 lessons, I make sure I test myself. This includes vocabulary testing, doing the same exercises again and listening to the dialogs. When I correct my answers, I make a point of writing down what went wrong and to put it down for the next test so that the problematic item sinks in.

So how do I feel about tho first month of Finnish?

  • I’m very happy about this routine because it offers a discipline I am able to stick to.
  • However, I may have to slow things down a bit when I have more work.
  • Even though Finnish has a way of being quite overwhelming, I feel like I have a better grasp of the language and of how the language works.
  • I was pretty proud of myself when I understood the gist of a weather forecast written in Simple Finnish on Yle.fi!
  • I can’t wait to develop my knowledge of the language and read simple children books!

I know some language learners are reading this blog. What do you do to make sure that you learn stick? What’s your studying routine? I would love to know!

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