We had our second meeting in a restaurant. Elisa and I were teaching Nghi mainly some basic phrases in Finnish as well as some common verbs and their different forms with different pronouns.
We chose the verbs that we thought would be common and that Nghi wanted to learn. We tried to point out the logics behind and connections between some of the verb forms. Since Nghi wants to learn some Finnish phrases and expressions that she could actually use in everyday situations, we also taught her the passive verb forms that are often used in the spoken language with the pronoun we, such as me ollaan instead of the formal me olemme (we are).
We covered some basic phrases, such as hyvää viikonloppua (have a nice weekend) and sori/anteeksi (I’m sorry), but I think the most important word that we taught was the simple word apua (help) that Nghi might need to know one day (hopefully not, though).
Nghi mentioned that she finds it difficult to hear the difference between the sounds ä and a. As it is, Elisa and I tried to come up with all kinds of words with either an ä or an a and produce the sounds as clearly as possible and to show Phuong the way the mouth moves when pronouncing the sounds. We also checked how the Finnish vowels are grouped according to the location of the highest part of the tongue when producing the vowels. After this we tried to explain which vowels can go together in a Finnish word (if it is not a compound word) to make it easier to know if there is an ä or an a in a word. Having to think about the use of vowels made me realize how obvious it is to us native speakers when to use which sounds, but it must be hard for someone trying to learn a new language.
We all think it’s important to say all the new words and phrases aloud in order to remember them better so we said the words first and Nghi always repeated them after us. I assume it must be hard to learn a new language like Finnish and it might be even more challenging because we are using our only common language, English, as a tool instead of Nghi’s own mother tongue, Vietnamese.