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From Start to Finnish (A short course in Finnish) by Leila White

by Luís

This book is very well structured and one of the best I’ve seen dedicated to the teaching of the Finnish language. It can either be used as a self-teaching method or in class. Every exercise in the book comes with complete solutions and you can listen to all the dialogues and vocabulary lists if you also acquire the CDs that come with it.

It starts off by introducing the reader to the Finnish language and explaining the main differences between Finnish and Indo-European languages. After that, a brief history of Finland and main cultural aspects are presented. Actually, throughout the whole book, the reader can always find interesting cultural notes that will make him better acquainted with Finnish culture and habits.

Grammar is presented in easy to consult tables and the author tries to add some humour to whatever she writes (something that doesn’t quite always work…). The approach the author takes is not always the best. Sometimes she deliberately doesn’t teach grammar that might be useful to the student or ends up mixing things in order to make it easier. It sure can seem easier at first, but later on you’ll certainly be confused after you notice that rules are changing in every lesson…

Another bad point is that the book has no colour and all the illustrations are in black and white. When you look at it, it can seem a bit monotonous. Fortunately, the written content is what matters most. The exercises are the typical ‘fill in the gap’, ‘translate from Finnish into English’, ‘translate from English into Finnish’ and answering questions. Some of the exercises are supposed to be done orally. This works better if you know a Finnish native speaker who can help correct your pronunciation. Also, at the beginning of the book you can see the sounds of Finnish explained one by one (and listen to them if you have the tapes), which is quite helpful. Considering all this I’d say it’s a good book, but not the best you can get (though certainly better than ‘Teach Yourself Finnish’). I give it a 3.5/5.

Written by Luís

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Originally published in Babel Babble