– or a very long post about me and language learning


Who am I?

I’m originally from Finland, I have lived in several countries and I love learning languages. I speak several languages and I’ve studied even more. I had a bit of a break on goal oriented language learning due to my PhD (Permanent head Damage), but while getting back to it I realized how many new things are around nowadays in the internet.

I’ve always loved languages. And so did my mum and my grandmother, from whom I probably got the example. Also, there was always encouragement if I wanted to learn another language. In the 80s when I was a kid, there wasn’t as many possibilities. I studied Swedish at school and as soon as I could I got a Norwegian pen pal and we wrote to each other in Swedish. I learned English before I had it in school by watching BBC’s Muzzy in Gondoland series that was on tv and my mum bought me and my sister the exercise book for it too and then I just watched Disney movies over and over again in English without subtitles.

Most of my language learning I’ve done in school though. In Finland you need to study Swedish and another foreign language, which for most people is English. In addition I studied French and Russian in school and later in university I had Spanish, German, and Japanese.

Why a language blog and what’s that name?

Even if there are many blogs about this subject already, I feel like each of them has a very personal approach and in the end it’s perfect when you find something that works just for you. Also, I like the idea of recording things for myself and if that helps someone else, then that’s awesome!

So, naming a blog is always tricky. I tend to be very critical of what I like and it takes forever for me to settle on one. But there’s a language learning story behind this one. In high school in our French classes one year were all about other countries than France where people speak French. So, a lot of African countries. And the funniest words just stick in your head. Like Baobab (which apparently is the same in English). So, forever I connect Baobab to our French classes. And also: I obviously learned something in my French class.

My approach to languages

The so-called “traditional class room learning” has worked for me well in school and in university. But this requires that the pace is good for you and that the level of the other students is somewhat similar to yours. If your level is too high or too low, you will just get frustrated with it. Also, I have realized that language teaching in Finnish schools is pretty good compared to many other countries.

But, because I have studied so many languages, I tend to be quite quick at picking them up. While there are still classes that would be good for me (like at the university), these are not always accessible if you don’t study in that university or they are not at a convenient time for someone who also needs to work. So, lately I’ve turned into more and more independent study and also using online tutors and teachers, which seems to be a good choice for me.

But whatever you do, the main thing is to try. You will make a lot of mistakes in the beginning when you start speaking or writing, but the more you do it the better you get. My philosophy about language learning (or pretty much anything really) is really nicely summed up in this Garfunkel & Oates song below (by the way, check them out on YouTube, they’re amazing!).


2 thoughts on “Introduction

  1. Zlaa says:

    Aloha !

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us, as you say, if it helps someone else, that’s awesome !
    When it comes to keep yourself motivated for long term goals – such as learning a new language – know about people who did the same as you is significantly helpful, as they can serve as models, explain you issues they faced…
    And as it’s not always easy to find such a model in our close social circle, we can all thank the internet ! ^^
    I already have one question : why do you think the Finnish system for language learning is more efficient than in most countries ?
    All I know is Finland is very often quoted as a model especially when it comes to education, but that’s all…
    Keep up the good work !



    • RankkaApina says:

      I’m so sorry, I thought I had approved this, but I was using the mobile app, so maybe I did it wrong… Thanks for commenting, I got a bit off track with the real life stuff, but I will continue đŸ™‚

      For the question why I think Finnish language learning is more efficient, I can’t be sure of course, maybe it just works for me. Then again people seem to be impressed about the language skills of Finns (and other Nordic nations), so I would think we do something differently. I would say that the fact that tv and movies are not dubbed but only have subtitles helps too. I can compare to US though, where I felt high school language learning was much slower and required much less work. Of course it means that to learn in Finland, you would have to do the work… For example I don’t ever remember learning word lists. We had chapters with text about a theme and mostly you were expected to read/translate it at home and at the lessons the teacher would just explain grammar and of course you could ask if you didn’t understand something. But we didn’t waste time on the lessons in doing stuff by yourself too much.


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