Do like Marta and John - Learn Finnish with PAM
Service employees Marta Ramiro Alcudia and John Wasserfall joined PAM’s Finnish course last spring. They recommend the course to other PAM members who need to brush up their Finnish skills.
Did you know you can study Finnish free-of-charge as a PAM member? Both Marta Ramiro Alcudia and John Wasserfall grabbed this opportunity last spring and spent time online enhancing their Finnish skills.
“I am working in the service industry and I feel it is an additional skill to speak Finnish. Besides, I am planning to live in Finland for the rest of my life, as I am married here”, John elaborates.
Marta wanted to make the most of her free time during the pandemic and she had been searching for a language course for some time. Last year she wanted to participate, but there were many applicants. That is why she was very excited to join the language group.
“When I was laid off from my work as a waitress in the spring 2021 I wanted to use that time wisely. I happened to browse the PAM.FI magazine and there it was - Learn Finnish with PAM”, she recalls.
At the beginning of each course, there is an initial assessment and 10-15 students will be placed in each group. Marta and John ended up in the group for intermediate learners.
“It was good they tested us. This group was definitely the right one for me. Pro-active and members were able to discuss in smaller groups”, Marta says.
“When I first moved to Finland, I did a few basic Finnish courses and was able to reach level B.1. Since then I have been working and even though I practise with customers and my co-workers, I felt stuck in my level”, she explains.
“Previous Finnish courses, in which I have participated, have not been this interactive nor offered for instance role-play or reading activities. It is very important for me to interact with other people while learning a new language”, John points out.
Join our new Finnish courses starting in September. Apply latest by 24 August.
The course cover a wide range of things, not only the Finnish language but also working life matters and rules. The course runs for 15 weeks and the 90-minutes classes are held every week at the same time.
“We also improved our applications and CV’s among other things. I changed my CV into a one-page-document in Finnish. In a month, I had companies asking me for interviews”, John mentions.
One of PAM’s experts also visited the group to talk about basic matters, such as how holidays are calculated, breaks at work and what help members can expect from the union.
“They made us aware of things, so that you can find out more on your own. I asked my supervisor for the collective agreement right after this. As I do the night shift plan for my co-worker and I, this was also useful to get to know some of the rules on a deeper level”, he adds.
Another revelation Marta did during the course, was discovering the personal coaching, which PAM offers part of its renewed career services.
“I feel, I need to be well more prepared than my fellow Finnish-speaking workers, in order to be selected for a job. That is why I enrolled immediately. A training session for a job interview carried out in a new country or cultural setting to me was mind blowing”, she adds.
The course uses a practical approach and encourages the students to use Finnish in everyday life.
“The main beneficiary for me was the practical side of it. My vocabulary increased, which has been helpful, but I was also able to improve my spoken Finnish language. Most customers use colloquial Finnish so you have to be able to understand them”, Marta points out.
She enjoys learning languages as she has a background as a language teacher. That does not necessary mean it is an easy task.
“To tell you the truth, learning Finnish is very difficult, but I like a challenge. At the beginning, I felt as if I will never learn. Now I see how you combine words and endings, and how logical it is.”
John also recognizes the challenge. When you have your heart set on something, which is a Finnish citizenship in John’s case, it becomes easier. His message is clear: In addition to the group meetings once a week, you have to be willing to study on your own.
“Finnish is the first language I’m learning as an adult. It is not an easy language but if you are willing, you can master anything, whether it is a language or another skill. Mind you, my mother-in-law, who’s in her 70’s, is now studying English”, he mentions.
Looking back at the previous spring and what they have achieved, they both give the course a good grade.
“It is an amazing advantage that your union offers complimentary Finnish courses. Therefore, I would give it 8.5 out of 10. What made it especially pleasant was our incredible teacher, Outi Rummukainen, who pushed you to your limits, but kindly. That is important, as many people tend to be shy”, John says.
“I would give it an eight, as I missed the feeling of being in a class room. I also agree that the teacher made a big difference. Furthermore, the book we got can be used for self-studies later on. I would definitely recommend this course to other PAM members.
- works as a waitress in the breakfast room at St. George Hotel and occasionally in the bakery
- wants to reach the next level in her Finnish language skills and improve spoken Finnish
- joined PAM in the spring of 2019
- works as a night manager since 2019 at Hotel Haven
- wants to learn Finnish in order to apply for Finnish citizenship in the future
- joined PAM in the fall of 2020
Learn Finnish courses
In the course, you learn to use Finnish as an everyday working language. You learn about the practices and rules of Finnish working life. You learn to speak, read and write Finnish. At the end of the course, you get a certificate.
Three groups will start in autumn - two in Helsinki (elementary and elementary continuation) and one online (intermediate level). The groups are formed based on an initial assessment and 10-15 students will be placed in each group. The lessons (1.5 hours) are at the same time every week. The first session is a compulsory level test and the last session is the closing event.
The application period for courses in autumn 2021 is 3.-24.8.2021.
Text:: Marie Sandberg-Chibani