Terve! Learning Finnish?

Terve! Olen Claire…

Which means, ‘Hello, I’m Claire’ in Finnish. Although, apparently, Finnish people would struggle to pronounce my name because they don’t have the ‘ai’ together… Interesting right?!

My first day back at BEET meant only two double lessons before lunch, followed by an INSET. As a new teacher these INSETs are extremely insightful and beneficial for me, and Monday’s was by far the best one I’ve been to so far.

One of my colleagues, Janet, who was also my CELTA tutor, ran a lesson entirely in Finnish (she’s bilingual) and it was just fantastic. At first I thought, ‘oh God this is going to be so embarrassing and I’m not going to enjoy this!’. Mainly because I’m such a weirdo about talking to people in foreign languages (I really don’t understand why…).

Janet started the lesson by waving to everyone, saying “Terve!” – we figured straight away it meant hello… but it didn’t stop there!

“Olen Janet, enta sina?” She repeated again, and again, and again, whilst shaking hands with everyone.

I’m Janet, and you?

I was absolutely baffled by this language. I’d never heard it before and I couldn’t make heads nor tails of it.

She didn’t use a single word of English, nor acknowledge any English we spoke either (perhaps to pretend she didn’t speak it?).

Her aim of the lesson was to teach us a few food and drink items, which she did by having the pictures on the board, and labeling each item one at a time, repeating new words, wiping the labels off and having us tell her the name, over and over again.

We learned:

  • punaviini – red wine
  • valkoviini – white wine
  • olut – beer
  • kakku – cake
  • voileipa – sandwich?
  • vesi – water
  • mehu – juice
  • maito – milk
  • kahui – coffee
  • tee – tea

That’s it. I’m proud to say I remember them all after just 2 days!

We did a flashcard game, matching the photo with the label

We also did a role play, ordering food and drink in a cafe – this was hilarious as our accents were all over the place, we couldn’t quite remember the words or pronunciation. It was brilliant! Janet was trying to correct us on tone as well, encouraging us to be more polite or more enthusiastic.

(Although I can’t remember how to say, ‘I would like…’)

What I also remember is:

  • kiitos – thank you
  • hyvaa – good

The aim of Janet’s INSET was to remind us how challenging it is for students to learn a new language, especially at beginner / pre-intermediate level, and that as teachers we need to be repeating new vocab continuously for it to stick in the students’ minds…

We were all exhausted after that lesson and with not a word of English ,it meant we really had to focus!

It makes me empathize so strongly with our students at how hard they have to work to grasps the basics of a language, especially if you’re in a classroom under pressure not to embarrass yourself or get things wrong.

Definitely my favourite INSET.

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