First meeting

Our first meeting was at Zoom. There was talk that basically we would meet live somewhere, but now we couldn’t otherwise agree on schedules.

This meeting mainly focused on teaching Finland to Omar with Sonja and Ioana. We were noticed that Omar’s skill level is already quite good, there is no need to start basics. Maybe, though, it was good to start time for getting to know each other and other easy topics. Now is good to take learning in a more challenging direction.

During this meeting, Omar certainly had new and interesting words about the Finnish language. Some of the words were also new to us who speak Finnish, for example, poikkee and höntsy. I look forward to the next meeting, because then the main focus will be on Omar’s Spanish teaching.

Our first meeting

We had our first meeting through Teams. We started with some basic greetings, numbers, weekdays and explain Daria and Simon how different the Finnish language structure is, just so they get some sort of an idea about it. I had some papers I got from my former client who used to teach Finnish to immigrants, so we used those to assist us through the meeting.
Felt like the beginning was really hard for me and Elina, since Finnish language is not the most easiest language to learn, nor to teach! But I think we did okay, since Daria and Simon seemed to understand our explanations. We agreed that next time is Daria´s time to teach us some Russian. I think it will be very interesting.

Our first Finnish lesson

Today we had our first meeting, where Elina and Heini taught some basics of Finnish to Simon and me. We started our meeting with a little chat about what we already know about Finland, the Finnish language, and culture. Heini and Elina told us how different the Finnish language structure can be from English, and then we started learning some basic greetings, such as “Hello” and “How’s it going?”. We also practiced some pronunciation and agreed that some of the letters sound similar in German (Simon’s mother tongue). I had been learning some German myself too, years ago, so I could pronounce the words with those letters as well. Then Elina and Heini also taught us some numbers, basic vocabulary about animals, and also days of the week and seasons.

We practiced our pronunciation a lot today, so I found this lesson very interesting. The Finnish language is something completely new to me, so I am happy about starting to learn it from native speakers. However, I must say, it was quite difficult for me to memorize some words and phrases in Finnish, so I am planning to practice more.

We agreed on taking turns in teaching, so next week it will be my turn to teach some Russian, and then the week afterwards Simon will teach us some German. We believe that this will be very interesting this way and we can get to know something new every lesson!

The first teaching lesson in Finnish

It was time to start so all four of us gathered to Teams for a meeting. I admit it was very hard to begin as the teacher because Finnish is such a complex language with all it’s inflected word forms. Like, if we teach the word maanantai (Monday), how can we explain simply enough why it is maanantaina (on Monday) or maanantaisin (on Mondays) at the next moment. Or why the verb olla (to be) has so many different forms. Oh boy do we have a big job on our hands.

So, we decided to start with how the language works. We taught that the Finnish words play with the ending of the words, not with prepositions or such. Which is also why the language is so difficult to learn – and to teach as we found out.

In this session we went through the numbers, time (hour, day, week, month etc) and some very basic sentences but we focused more on the words. We taught how we form numbers (yksiTOISTA, kaksiTOISTA and kolmeKYMMENTÄ, neljäKYMMENTÄ, kaksiKYMMENTÄyksi, kaksiKYMMENTÄkaksi). We had some talk about the pronounciation as the non-Finnish speakers would have naturally pronounced some of the words very different (like our y isn’t pronounced as i). We also taught some examples on how Finnish has sometimes very describing words, like joulukuu being ”Christmas month” and kesäkuu being ”summer month”. I’m sure we will have more examples later.

Some things we went through:

Minä olen…/Minun nimeni on…

I am…/My name is…

How to tell the time:

Kello on puoli seitsemän

Literal translation: The clock is half to seven (instead of half past six)

Sekunti = second

Minuutti = minute

Tunti = hour

Päivä = day

Viikko = week

Kuukausi (kuu = moon, kausi = period) = month

Vuosi = year

Teaching was super fun but it would have been easier if we structured the lesson in advance which we didn’t do. Heini had some nice basic Finnish instructional pages she shared with the group, which helped a lot, but we need to plan the hour better next time.

What should I wear today?

We went through names of clothes that are used in Finland especially in the winter time, like coat, hat, gloves and so on. These words are useful for someone living in Finland as one cannot make it through the long winter without wearing them. Also, a sentence that is often heard, especially by parents in Finland is “Pue lämpimästi päälle ennen kuin lähdet ulos!” which means Put on warm clothes before going out. This is probably a very useful advice as normally kids, especially teenagers rebel against dressing up in warm clothes when the weather gets cold. It varies according to a generation towards what items this rebellion goes. In my teenager years we would rebel against hats in the winter and when I look at the youth nowadays, it looks like they rebel against covering their ankles.


Vaatteet = Clothes = Mavazi

Ulkovaatteet = Outdoor clothes =Nguo za njee

Talvivaatteet = Winter clothes =  Nguo za baridi

Takki = Coat = koti

Hattu = Hat =  kofia

Paita = Shirt = Shati

Housut = Pants= Suruali

Kengät = Shoes = viatu

Farkut = Jeans = suruali za jin

Hame = Skirt = sketi

Sukat = Socks = soksi

Pipo = hat for the winter = Kofia ya baridi 

Hanskat = Gloves= Kinga 

Kaulahuivi = Scarf = Skafu 

Pue lämpimästi päälle ennen kuin lähdet ulos = Put warm clothes on before going out=  vaa nguo za koto kabla ya kuenda njee

Ostin tänään uuden paidan = I bought a new shirt today=  Nimenunua shati mpya leo

Mikä on paras vaatekauppa Tampereella? = What is the best clothes shop in Tampere? = Ni duka lipi lizuri la kununua nguo Tampere 

Nämä ovat lempifarkkuni = These are my favorite jeans =  Hizi ni suruali za jiinsi ninazozipenda zaidi 

Time to study

What has helped Finland to give equal opportunities to kids no matter their background has been the school system. The finnish education system is based on public education centers. There are some private centers too, but the vast majority up until now have been the public ones. The level of teaching is very high in finnish schools and so the results of PISA-test used to be top of the world for many years. Some changes are happening and I think that the Finnish educational system is going towards privatization slowly but surely. There are clear threats to this and I think every Finnish person should be aware of it.


An interesting detail that came up during the meeting in that in Finnish there are two different words for students depending on which grade they are in, so students before high school are called oppilas and students from high school on are called opiskelija. There is no such distinction in Swahili, so every student is called Mwanafunzi.


Koulu = School = Shule

Oppilaitos = Educational center = Kituo cha elimu

Päiväkoti = Kinderkarten= shule ya chekechea

Lukio = High school =  shule ya upili

Korkeakoulu = Higher education center = Kituo cha elimu ya juu

Yliopisto = University = Chuo kikuu

Luokka = Class = Darasa 

Opettaja = Teacher = Mwalimu 

Oppilas = Student (in school) Mwanafunzi 

Opiskelija = Student (from high school on) = Mwanafunzi (we make no distinction) 

Luento = Lecture = ukumbi wa mihadhari 

Mihin aikaan luento alkaa? = At what time the lecture starts? Mhadhara unaanza saa ngapi? 

Minulla on koe huomenna = I have an exam tomorrow = Nina mtihani kesho

Matematiikka on lempiaineeni = Math is my favorite subject – Hesabu ndio somo ninalolipenda zaidi

Mihin aikaan pääset huomenna koulusta? = At what time you get out tomorrow from school? = Kesho unatoka shule saa ngapi? 

Let’s do sports!

Sports have always been somehow part of my life and this is why I wanted to have one session related to it too. In Finland the most popular sports has been ice-hockey for many years. Tampere is a special city in a sense that it has two ice-hockey teams in Jääkiekkoliiga, the highest series of men’s ice-hockey. The two teams are called Ilves and Tappara and in my experience the people from Tampere are fans of one of the two and this is not something one can change during their lives.


Urheilu = Sports =Michezo

Harrastus = Hobby = 

Kilpaurheilu = Competitive sports = Mashndani ya michezo

Jääkiekko = Ice hockey = Mchezo wa magongo (barafu) 

Jalkapallo = Football = Mpira wa miguu 

Koripallo = Basketball = Mpira wa kikapu 

Lentopallo = Volleyball = Mpira wa wavu (voliboli) 

Yleisurheilu = Athletics=  Riadha

Kuntosali = gym =  Ukumbi wa mazoezi

Loukkaantuminen = Injury =  Jeraha

= Twende tukaangalie mchezo wa magongo 

Harrastatko liikuntaa? = Do you do any sports? =  Je? Unafanya michezo ipi? 

Mikä on suosikki urheilulajisi? = What is your favorite sports? = Je? no mchezo upi unaoupenda zaidi? 

Menen nyt lenkille = Im going for a run/walk = Ninaenda kutemba /kukimbia 

Modern Family

Just for the vocabulary, it is clear that Finland has some specific things related to how people see family here. The word “perhe” means the closest family that usually is parents, children and partner. Then there is the work “suku” that means the extended family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and so on. I know that in many languages there is no such a distinction, because family is family, but for finns there is quite a big difference whether someone belongs in your immediate or extended family. 



Perhe = close family

Suku = extended family

Sukulaiset = members of the extended family

Sukujuhlat = celebration with extended family

Montako perheenjäsentä sinulla on? = How many family members you have?

Perheenjäsen = member of a family

Äiti = mother

Isä = father

Sisko = sister

Veli = brother


Isosisko = big sister

Pikkuveli = Little brother

Isöäiti, mummo = grandmother

Isoisä, vaari, pappa, ukki = grandfather

Setä = uncle

Täti = aunt

Eno = Brother of a mother

Serkku = cousin

Pikkuserkku = second cousin





familia ya karibu/close family


mama /mother








big sister/dada mkubwa

kaka mdogo/little brother

little sister/dada mdogo


Aunt /shangazi



my husband/mume wangu

my wife/mke wangu

binamu wangu wa mbali/a distant cousin

my distant cousin**

I love this city!

The theme of the sixth session was city. Sharon was familiar with many places in Tampere that have the word “keskus” in them which means center in Finnish. I explained how keskusta means the city center, Keskustori means the central marketplace in Tampere and Koskikeskus is a shopping mall in the center of Tampere and its name refers to the Tammerkoski stream that runs through Tampere. I told about the importance of Tammerkoski in the development of Tampere and how still the red brick buildings that are situated around it remind of the time when the power of the stream was used as a source of power to the factories.


Kaupunki = City

Missä kaupungissa asut? = In which city do you live?

Mikä on sinun kotikaupunkisi? = What is your hometown?

Keskusta = center

Paljonko matkaa on keskustaan? = How long is it to the center?

Keskustori = Central market square

Koskikeskus = Stream center

Tammerkoski = the name of the stream

Lakes of Tampere: Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi

Näsinneula = The needle of Näsi

Famous marketplaces: Tammelantori and Laukontori





mtu In singular



rivets -mito


market place-sokoni




Animals from the north and the south

Our fifth session was about animals. I told Sharon about the biggest wild animals we have in Finland: moose (hirvi), bear (karhu) and wolf (susi). I think it’s quite cool to have such wild animals living in the finish forest. I told that in the past there were many fatal accidents between moose and cars, but that this situation got better during the past 20 years as there are many fences built next to the highways, near to areas with a lot of moose. Also the cars nowadays are safer so that even if the car hits a moose it doesn’t necessarily mean that the passengers will die of the impact. About bears, they might only attack humans if the person happens to be in between the mother and a cub. As a child I was told to pretend being dead if I encountered a bear in the forest, luckily I never had to use this skill. Wolves on the other hand have a very bad reputation even if they practically never attack humans and luckily in the past years their number has increased in Finland. 


It was very interesting to hear about the wild animals that live in Kenya, such as lions, baboons or cheetah. When Sharon was telling me that lion means simba in Swahili, I remembered my all time favorite movie which is Lion King. Simba was the name of the main character of the movie who, naturally, was a lion. He had a monkey mentor whose name was Rafiki and this means friend in Swahili. I was so happy to learn this because I love the movie and I never knew that some of the characters’ names were actually real words in Swahili. 



animal- mnyama




cork-male hen









male cow -ndume