Feb 21, 2023

How to learn Finnish outside of the classroom

Want to get better in Finnish without attending yet another class? This blog post covers five battle-tested methods for improving your Finnish daily.

Eevi Isotalo
Finnish language Graduate student

Sometimes learning a new language in a traditional way by sitting in a classroom might not be the most efficient way to learn it.

In fact, the studies have shown, that practicing your language skills outside the classroom can be very beneficial while learning vocabulary. You won’t become fluent in Finnish overnight, but gaining a basic understanding of the Finnish language can be surprisingly easy.

The main thing is to find learning routines that utilize the best learning methods specifically for you. With these five effective steps you can start improving your language skills outside the classroom today. Find the ones that work best for you and start using them today!

Don’t let the fear of making mistakes hold you back.

1. Use the language on a daily basis

The best way to learn a language is to use it, as self-explanatory as it may sound. Don’t doubt yourself and don’t be afraid of making mistakes – go to a grocery store, bank, post office, wherever you need to run errands, and use Finnish to the best of your ability.

It’s not about getting every word and phrase correct but to open your mouth and trying to get as far as possible with the words you do know. You might surprise yourself with how far you can get! You may think of speaking as one of the last steps you take in the process of learning a new language. However, you should start speaking Finnish as soon as possible, and use every opportunity to practice it.

Once you realize you’re able to survive daily tasks using Finnish it’ll boost your confidence and motivation to keep learning it even further. Don’t let the fear of making mistakes hold you back – instead use the mistakes as an opportunity to develop your skills even further.

Be aware of your surroundings and the language you see and hear. Seeing and hearing Finnish when you’re out and about will help you solidify the lessons you’ve learned so far. Change the language from your phone to Finnish, keep a journal in Finnish, read Finnish books and so on.

The main thing is to keep using Finnish continuously in your everyday life. Once you make time for language-learning on a regular basis, you’ll make progress a lot faster.

Song lyrics can stimulate phonetics, vocabulary and improve grammar.

2. Use Finnish media

These days most of us use a lot of different media every day. A good way to learn Finnish is to watch movies or TV shows in Finnish or with Finnish subtitles. According to Jack Richards (see references),“successful second language learners often mention, that watching movies and other programmes on television is an important source of learning language”.

Try to control the learning experience by pausing a scene when necessary or replaying it several times to better understand it.

It has been observed that young people in Finland have good listening skills and are fluent in English, the reason being English movies on TV and cinemas are shown in their original language with subtitles whereas in other countries they would be dubbed.

For music lovers a pleasant way to learn Finnish is to listen to Finnish music. According to Boothe and West, “the incorporation of music leads to a positive attitude about learning and supports expanded creative opportunities.”

Song lyrics can stimulate phonetics, vocabulary and improve grammar. You can also read the news in Finnish, listen to Finnish podcasts and so on. Using Finnish media will help you increase your vocabulary and help you learn the most common phrases and sayings.

Especially in TV and movies, you can usually hear the spoken language spoken in a clear manner, with proper pronunciation which will help you understand it better in real life.

3. Go out and socialize

Finns are not known to be the most talkative people, but the fastest way to learn a language is by using that language in a real context. Not only do you learn how the language is used by native speakers, but it can also be fun, engaging, and the learnings are more memorable.

Having people to speak Finnish with is a great routine, but it might be hard to create those e.g. at a work setting. Another great option is to find peers who are also learning Finnish, and deciding on a Finnish talking routine.

It can be rewarding and motivating to share the frustrations, struggles, as well as successess with other people who are in the same boat.

The fastest way to learn a language is by using that language in a real context.

4. Download a language app and watch YouTube videos

There are many good language apps and YouTube channels that can help you learn a language easily. More often than not, you have your phone with you, so why not use it to practice your language skills while on the go?

The most popular YouTube channel for the Finnish language is learn Finnish with finnishpod101. They have a lot of excellent and informative videos. Sometimes you might even catch the occasional live sessions as well. Finnishpod101 can also be downloaded as an app for a moderate monthly subscription. It has hundreds of lessons featuring conversations from native speakers and tons of extra practice material as well.

Another popular YouTube channel that is worth mentioning is Dave Cad. On his channel he has a lot of humoristic videos about learning Finnish, Finnish culture, and what it’s like to move to Finland from another country.

Of course, there are tons of different apps for practicing your language skills, the most popular being Duolingo.

One app that is produced by the national Finnish media platform Yle is called Yle kielikoulu that can be highly recommended because it’s been made by native speakers. Explore the alternatives and find the app that serves your needs in the best possible way.

5. Post it to learn it

This method is very handy when you want to train your grammar or vocabulary. All you need is post-it notes and a pen! Post everything in your surroundings: table as “pöytä”, chair as “tuoli” and so on.

Then every time you walk past them, you’re reminded of the word you’ve written down and it’ll be easier to remember going forward. This works for grammar as well: you can do a grammar wall with post-it notes and write down different rules for the Finnish language. Not only is this super effective, but it also looks nice and colorful.

Once you’ve learned a word or a grammar rule, you can take down the post-it notes and see them disappearing one by one. Satisfying, isn’t it?


1. Diane Boothe, Jeff West (2015): English language learning through music and song lyrics– theperformance of a lifetime in Conference Proceedings- The future education.
2. Jack C. Richards (2016): The face of language learning–Learning beyond the classroom. Unoiversityof Sydney.
3. https://www.finnishpod101.com/blog/2020/12/18/is-finnish-hard-to-learn/
4. https://www.finnishpod101.com/blog/2020/12/18/is-finnish-hard-to-learn/
5. https://yle.fi/aihe/kielikoulu-sprakskolan
6. https://www.youtube.com/@FinnishPod101
7. https://www.youtube.com/@davecad

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