Last modified 15.3.2011 at 13:16

A, b, c, d, e, mouth, g

Text and photos: Annika Lamberg

Studying Finnish language and culture at Oulu University of Applied Sciences goes with a swing. In those lessons even the alphabet might get a new meaning.

Quite often there are similar languages spoken in neighbouring countries. But Finnish language is neither like Swedish nor like Russian. Finnish belongs to the Finno-Ugric languages with Hungarian, Estonian and some smaller languages. The teacher of Finnish at Oulu UAS Maija-Liisa Niemelä, tells that the Finnish language might sound exotic for foreign students and often funny, too. In her lessons there is a lot of laughter anyway.

Daniel wants to use Finnish when doing the everyday things.

Daniel wants to use Finnish when doing the everyday things.

- The atmosphere in the Finnish classes is very open and relaxed. I think it helps to learn if a new language is also about having fun, Maija-Liisa states.

Students get good laugh especially when pronunciation of some Finnish word means something in their own language. Ethiopian Daniel Abreham Tsega has already bumped into that.

- When I first heard letter f /æf/ pronounced in Finnish, it sounded really amusing in my ears, because the same sound means ‘mouth’ in my mother tongue Amharic, Daniel smiles.
‘Mouth’ is ‘suu’ in Finnish.

‘Mouth’ is ‘suu’ in Finnish.

It is all about motivation

Daniel is now a first year student in the Degree Programme in International Business and he has decided to learn Finnish well. Besides the studies at school he is borrowing some learning material from library and he listens to the Finnish radio stations.

- Even if I would move to some other country in the future, I think it will be a competitive advantage to be able to speak Finnish, he assures.

Daniel knew the reputation of Finnish language being difficult to learn. Now that he has studied it for a while it has proven no more difficult than any other new language you start to study. Daniel says that pronunciation of Finnish is very different from what he is used to. Especially letters ä, ö and y are quite hard for him to pronounce. After studying Finnish for a couple of months, Daniel can say little things in Finnish and make a short conversation.

- When you are motivated and interested in learning a new language it gets easier all the time. It encourages you to study more after you learnt the basics.

Not for the school but for the life

For exchange students there are Finnish Survival Courses at Oulu UAS. Exchange students can also take part in the Basic Finnish Language and Culture courses that the International Degree Programme students attend. The International Degree Programme students can take up to six courses in Finnish in Oulu.

Maija-Liisa Niemelä urges on to use Finnish outside the classroom. She thinks it is always important to learn the language when you stay in a country for a longer time.

- Language is a key to the culture, and it is important to learn the culture of the country you are staying in order to understand the way of living there.

Both Daniel and Maija-Liisa accentuate that Finnish is also a necessary key to the working life in Finland.

Daniel thinks that a good teacher is essential when studying a new language. He praises that Maija-Liisa makes Finnish easy to learn.

- I vote for Maija-Liisa to be the teacher of the year.

English - Finnish survival vocabulary

what- mikä
place- paikka
want- haluta
home- koti
yes- kyllä
no- ei
thank you- kiitos
yeah- joo
I would love to- Mielelläni
One beer, please- Yksi olut, kiitos
It was nice to meet you!- Oli hauska tutustua!

avain Keywords: Finnish, language
You can find specific information and how to apply from the Studies and Applying section of Oulu UAS website.

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