18 October, 2012

A Plus

On the (more) plus side, it turns out that I am not the only student who wants to practice conversation and has noticed that all Finnish courses seem to be severely lacking in speaking practice.

Since we finish early on Fridays, P and I have tentative informal plans to regularly hang out at the school for a while after class and just chinwag in Finnish over a cup of tea. I am hoping to get other students involved, since I've tried to do it before at other classes but didn't have any other students with the same enthusiasm like P does. She truly grasps exactly why it's in our best interests to do it and how badly we'll stumble if it doesn't happen.

She has also noted the general assumption by schools and teachers that "all students have somewhere to practice what they learn". No, no, hell no! I did a quick poll of who has Finnish friends. Only P does, and she stated firmly that personal friends are not interested in spending precious scarce quality time together teaching her Finnish. I agree, because that's not fun for the friends, just like it's not fun for my family.

We have a golden opportunity to practice and it's with new acquaintances. There is no friendship-history in English or Russian or Chinese. There's no past bullshit in the way and no time-pressured environment. Fellow-students are still relative strangers, so there is new information to learn at a level we can understand (where you grew up, talking about your family or interests, discussing the weather, and so on). You already know where your best friend grew up... and your best friend is more interested in talking about what happened this week, which probably isn't in the Finnish 101 handbook.

I never have managed to form long friendships with other students, because mostly, they left me behind in Finnish and now have other things to occupy their time. I really hope that this time I can keep pace with others' learning and make a friend or two.