WHEN TWO OF THE WORLD’S HARDEST LANGUAGES, FINNISH AND VIETNAMESE, MET EACH OTHER

My first meeting in the Each One Teach One program was with my paired partner, Jetro Sukkela. My target in this program is to advance my B1.1 level of Finnish and to be more confident in using Finnish while Jetro would like to learn some basic Vietnamese for his future trip to Vietnam if possible. After many times delaying for busy study reason, finally we came to meet. Because of corona, I have recommended to have first meeting online. It happened totally ok beyond my imagination. We are not in same class in TAMK and did not know each other before, but luckily, I have found quite supportive and easy-going partner. We did not spend too much time asking about private lives but went through directly to the language learning. I thought that we would be shy for the first meeting, but oppositely Jetro was so supportive, warm, and friendly that I do not think we just met for the first time.

Jetro started teaching me first Finnish. I would like to practise speaking with him. The topic was taken from his issues to post office in that day. I opened more the topic by asking and sharing my own stories and opinion about post office in Finland when comparing to one in Vietnam. Sometimes, we went far away from our topic, but quite soon we got back to it. Jetro asked and answered questions for me to practise and especially he helped me fix the basic mistakes. I could say, the friendliness of Jetro helped me feel free and more confident to speak Finnish, even though there were still a lot of mistakes that need to improve. Furthermore, I recognised some stupid mistakes that I made and learnt some new vocabularies. I think languages come to mind in the natural way that sometimes we do not need to push ourselves so hard.

After 1 hour, I turned to teach the basic Vietnamese to Jetro. Starting by ‘Hello Vietnam’ song, I would like Jetro to feel relaxing hearing our language and somehow get to know how the words are pronounced in Vietnamese. I recognised the pronunciation of Vietnamese seem to be same as Finnish. For the first time, it seemed to be little struggle to Jetro to practise Alphabet. I understood that he has tried his best to remember them. It was not an easy thing to do and may make people bored or want to quit. I would like to make him like our language, so it will motivate him more to learn it. However, I know it is kind of challenge for me to inspire him.

After then, I teach him how to say Hello in Vietnamese to different people who are at different age. I think this is new thing to Jetro, but it is a very basic thing to learn. For example, if people would like to ask for help on the road, they first need to make friend to people by saying hello. However, in Vietnam we call old strange lady on road as the grandma or young girl as a younger sister. Jetro may think it is hard to remember, therefore, we ruled that next meeting, I will welcome him by saying ‘Chào’ or hello in Vietnamese.

By this spirit and method of learning and teaching approaching, I believe we are going to win two of the world’s hardest languages. Discovering the languages together is an interesting thing to approach in this program.

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