Thursday, September 3, 2015

Finnish, Week 1

The semester started a week and a half ago, which means my Finnish course started as well! It's every day and I'm really enjoying it.  Except for a little work with an app called Nemo this summer, I'm an absolute beginner. I decided to keep a journal of how I learn Finnish, which I talked about in an earlier post. I'll write a blog entry each weekend about what I thought was interesting that week (which may also save Siegfried from having to listen to me endlessly!). So here we go! It cuts off kind of abruptly because I ran out of time, which will probably happen fairly often, but I figure it's more important to get my thoughts down than to be a perfectionist about writing style (yay! progress! Recovering Perfectionists Untie!)

Finnish Week 1

Associating things with images is not a strategy that works for me. I've never been a strong visualizer. Times when I have been able to visualize things, I've taken it as a strong sign that whatever I've seen in my head is very important. For example, when I walked into the hall where we had our wedding reception, I could immediately visualize how I wanted it set up. My fiancé and I decided to have our reception there mainly because I had this strong reaction through an immediate visualization. But in normal everyday life, I need to take an image and make it a word before I truly understand it. I would prefer words on a computer screen as opposed to images (like the word "delete" instead of a trash can, for example). Visualizations require two steps for me.

So while I understand the reasoning behind the recommendation to use images instead of English to associate with the new words (to break the association with English and try to get the learner to think in the language without relying on English), it doesn't work for me.  I need a memory trick that associates the new words with words I already know. I can't picture things. Even way back when in learning German, when I had trouble remembering that "Straße" (street) was feminine and hence "die," I came up with the phrase, "They're dying in the streets" to remember it (even though "die" is not pronounced like "to die" in English. BUT I never pictured people dying in the streets; I always just saw the phrase in my mind until I had learned it and didn't need the phrase anymore.

Now that I have more languages to work with, I can make more word associations.  For example, this week I learned the word "pelottaa" in Finnish, which means "scared." I already know the word "pelota" in Spanish (ball), so I made up a phrase, "I'm scared because I'm about to get hit by a pelota." And now, a couple days later, I remember that word without studying it.

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