Studying Finnish – 2 Years Down the Line… Fluent yet?

I’ve been studying finnish now for almost 3 years. I was about to start writing a 3 year review and some trip reports and came across this unfinished post from a year ago. I thought I’d post this 2 year marker, although it’s a year late. I’ll add in some additional thoughts in *bold text.

I’ll do a ‘3 years of learning finnish’ post soon!

So, after two years of studying these were my thoughts.


Studying Finnish – 2 Years Down the Line… Fluent yet?

Last time I wrote about this challenge was a year ago, which means I have been learning Finnish now for 2 years.

The aim of this challenge was to become fluent, in *cough*, 5 months. In the last post I explained that I still hadn’t reached fluency after 1 year of learning, but would aim for a B2 level by August 2018. So, after 2 years of trying to crack this language have I reached fluency yet? The short answer is no. Did I reach the B2 level I had wanted – yes and no.

In this post I will explain what level I am at now, give brief overview of what I have been up to over the last year, how I have been studying, how I am feeling about this challenge, what I am good at, where I can improve and where I will take it next.

Learning Finnish – My Current Level *(14.11.2018)

The aim was to be at a B2 level by August 2018. It is now November 2018. Did I make the B2 level then? In some way yes, in some ways no.

Officially I still haven’t taken any exams to test my level. I have spoken with several teachers who have said my spoken Finnish is at a B1/B2 level. Which is a small victory, but it’s not offical. However, I am still lacking considerably on certain aspects, including grammar, and my Finnish is a kind of personal Finnish that is understandable, but often a grammatical soup.

It turns out that the jumps between levels are incrementally harder. For example, if you reach an A2 level after a year, it may take another year to reach B1 then 1.5 or 2 years to reach B2.

It’s not as simple as this, as everyone is different, but it’s worth noting when language learning. The next step might feel like it’s taking you ages to tackle, but actually your progress might be just as good, it’s just the step is twice as big.

What I’ve been up to.. *(Dec 2017 – Nov 2018)

I have been back in Finland since December 2017. Since then I worked another winter season as a dog sled guide in Finnish Lapland for Saija Lodge, and a summer season as a kayaking guide for Naturaviva in Vuosaari, Helsinki.

I have continued to speak as much Finnish as possible, and try to do a bit of studying from books in my spare time.

The studying from books in my spare time was pretty unsuccessful, but I dipped in and out.

What was I doing then?

I have now been studying on another intensive Finnish course 4 days a week. I did one of these in the summer of 2017 for 2 months, and found it incredibly useful. The course I am doing is level A2.1, and I thought it would be too easy.

Although I can speak confidently, and my level is higher than A2.1, almost all the material that we are studying is new to me.

The class is a huge mix of levels, some speaking very confidently with a high level of finnish, and some really struggling to speak, with a very low level. I’ll be honest, I was disappointed when I first joined the class as so many people were still speaking in English.

I also did a speaking course and a writing course once a week. In total I was studying around 15 hours a week in finnish.

I did this intensive course and the others all winter, from 23.10.19 to 11.04.19. I worked part time jobs at the same time, and in retrospect I think I was doing too much.

Although I definitely learnt stuff, my study-work-life balance was a bit hectic, potentially hampering the learning process. I’ll speak more about this in the next post.

Things to improve

  • Listening
  • Communication errors – Related to the above point.
  • Read more – Mentioned in almost every post. Still not doing it.
  • Write more – Again, mentioned in almost every post, but not doing much of it. I know it will help drastically.

How am I feeling about Finnish?

  • Sometimes thinking that I will never make it to the end. Dramatic. But yeah, I think it’s common to have these thoughts when tackling a big project. Progress, although slower was pretty good.
  • Again, many highs and lows.
  • Now I feel I am progressing nicely, but haven’t felt any large developments recently.
  • I can speak confidently at a b1/b2 level.
  • Pretty good vocabulary.

Ideas and next steps

To try and write several extended essays in Finnish on a certain topic. I didn’t do this, but think it would be good to do.

Try and track my progress better. Could do this by consistently writing one essay a month, so I can look back and (hopefully) see progress. Could also record myself speaking, or in a conversation. Didn’t do this eitr, but again a good point.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Aim now is to pass the Yki test. This is an offical government recognised qualification, showing your ability to speak, read and write Finnish to a B2 level. I will aim to do this next year. I missed the sign up for the tests last year, although I’m sure I stand a very good chance of passing the B1 level. Need to get one booked in this year. Would be a nice milestone.

So! Next goals (not sure when I will next write a post so will plan long term)

Pass the Yki test – February/March 2019 missed the slot for this unfortunately,as mentioned above.

Reach a C1 level – July (Just over 6 months away seems reasonable) Didn’t make this. Still hovering between a b1 and b2. This b2 step is proving difficult to climb.


End note

It’s interesting to re-read notes from a year ago, think about them, evaluate them and move forwards. Many of these points are useful and it’s interesting to see where I was doing well or struggling.

I also think I’m often unreasonably hard on myself and my progress. Got to remember to enjoy it šŸ™‚

I will write a summary of my Finnish progress at the 3 year mark soon.

3 thoughts on “Studying Finnish – 2 Years Down the Line… Fluent yet?

  1. Hello.

    I appreciate your persistence to learn Finnish. Have ever thought to listen to a Finnish radio station while in Internet! I do so. I keep up my language skills by listening Internet radios. Just now I am listening a radio station at background from Nicaragua!

    My favorite Finnish radio station is:

    https://www.radiopooki.fi/

    Have a good day!

    Liked by 1 person

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