Do you live in Manchester or the region? Do you work in Finland, or ever go on holiday there? Perhaps you are looking for a new language to learn, one which will challenge and amaze you at the same time? Or do you simply like coffee and cake and pleasant company on a Saturday morning?
On the 16th of September - syyskuu - the Manchester Finnish School starts up again. We're based at the church of St Mary Magdalene in Sale, close to the M60 motorway, and between now and Christmas there will be 7 school sessions, followed by 10 sessions in the early part of 2018. They're usually two weeks apart, from 10am until 12.15pm on Saturday mornings. See the School Dates page and the Location page for further details.
Have a look at the Classes page. You'll see that we're set up to serve two kinds of student. We provide classes for young kids, who are usually from families in which one or both parents are Finnish. And we provide classes for adults - usually, beginners, intermediate and advanced - for adults who come to the school for, to be frank, a wild variety of reasons. Finland is a little bit different, as countries go, and the outsiders who take an interest tend to be a little bit different too! Many come to our classes because they have Finnish partners, and realise they need a bit more help with learning the language. Others want to improve their dealings in business they do in Finland, or to get more out of their ski-ing trips. And there are yet others who have discovered heavy metal or ice hockey...
|Jääkiekko yöllä - night hockey, central Helsinki|
So, how scary is Finnish, really?
At first, you flounder a bit, because it is so unfamiliar. It's not at all like the other Scandinavian languages; the only other language remotely like it is Estonian. Don't worry! Some things help hugely, like the fact that it's incredibly phonetic. As for pronunciation, it only has a few odd sounds you have to learn. It's not too bad that way. It's true that the words and grammar are tough. The words, partly because as I say they're so unfamiliar, but mainly because the endings change in ways that seem bizarre at first. But, like any language, it has rules, and you can learn them. In fact, after a while it's a lot of fun, because the grammar is extraordinary and often beautiful, and you can get so much subtlety and expressiveness out of it. ...Hark at me; anyone who knows me knows I still have an awful lot to learn!
|Keikat - gigs; Pintandwefall playing a summer festival in Helsinki's Alppipuisto|
Apart from the cost of lessons, is it expensive?
Well, most of the study materials will be provided by the teacher. Of course, you'll need pens and an A4 pad or notebook. You'll probably want to get your own dictionary at some point. It's possible you may discuss using a coursebook in your group, but that often isn't necessary. We have some great teachers. Some have a professional background in teaching, some don't, but all have training and aptitude and engage with us students well. As adult students, our own motivation is key, but the teachers do their utmost to enable our progress. We may not speak like a native, but we practise, we learn, and our competency gets lifted. I can only speak for myself, but with each trip to Finland, more things click into place, and that wouldn't happen without what the Finnish School has done for me.
And on a final note... The Finnish School is a really friendly place!
Every year it puts on extra activities, notably parties at Christmas and the end of the Spring Term. Helped along by proper Finnish coffee, and some irresistible home baking, you could well make lasting contacts and friends.