Finnish language studies

Studying in an English-taught programme in Finland offers a unique opportunity for international students to receive high-quality education in a globally understood language. However, to truly immerse oneself in Finnish culture and maximise the overall experience, understanding the Finnish language is invaluable. This is especially true for those studying in South Ostrobothnia, a region rich in traditions and local customs.

Finnish language at SeAMK

While our English-taught degree programmes at SeAMK do not require any prior knowledge of Finnish for admission, gaining basic Finnish skills can be highly advantageous. This is particularly important for mandatory practical training periods, which usually occur in Finnish-speaking settings unless you go abroad. Basic Finnish proficiency will assist you in securing a suitable training placement and making the most of this experience. Additionally, being able to speak Finnish significantly improves your employment prospects in South Ostrobothnia.

SeAMK offers Finnish language courses for international degree students. These courses are designed to fit into your academic schedule and cater to different proficiency levels. Additionally, there are numerous online resources, language exchange programmes, and mobile apps available to supplement your learning.

At the start of each semester, Orientation Week provides an introduction to the various Finnish language learning opportunities available in the local area.

  • Finnish language courses at SeAMK

    At SeAMK, all international degree students must complete four mandatory Finnish language courses, with additional elective courses available for further studies. These courses are designed to help you acquire proficiency in Finnish language and culture, enabling you to communicate effectively in various contexts.

    Finnish 1–4 (mandatory, 3 ect’s each): Communicate about yourself and your daily life in Finnish, manage everyday tasks such as shopping and dining, and navigate basic work-life situations. You will also learn about Finland’s culture and way of life.

    Finnish 5–6 (free-elective studies): Enhance your Finnish proficiency during your studies.

Learning Finnish outside SeAMK

Learning Finnish in the picturesque surroundings of South Ostrobothnia provides a unique and enriching experience. Embrace this opportunity to deepen your understanding of the Finnish language and culture, making the most of your time at SeAMK and your life here with us. Below, you can find additional places and resources to support your journey in learning Finnish.

National Certificates of Language Proficiency (YKI) in Finnish language (intermediate B-level)

National Language Proficiency (YKI) is the official language testing scheme in Finland. National Certificate of Language Proficiency (YKI-todistus) is an official document that you need for example if you are applying for Finnish citizenship.

The language proficiency is described with a six-level scale.

The importance of learning Finnish for international students in English degree programmes

  • Why learn Finnish?

    Cultural Inclusion: While English is widely spoken in Finland, especially in academic and work life settings, knowing Finnish significantly enhances your ability to integrate into the local community. Engaging with locals in their native language fosters deeper connections and helps you understand Finnish culture more profoundly.

    Daily Life: Simple daily tasks, such as shopping, using public transportation, or reading signs and notices, become easier when you understand Finnish. Although many Finns speak English, smaller towns and rural areas, such as South Ostrobothnia, has fewer English speakers, making Finnish a practical necessity.

    Employment Opportunities: Proficiency in Finnish can be a significant advantage in the job market. Many employers value candidates who can communicate in Finnish, particularly in customer-facing roles or positions that require interaction with the local community, or in the workplace in general.

    Academic Benefits: While your program is in English, some supplementary materials, documents, and extracurricular activities may be available only in Finnish. Understanding the language can therefore enrich your academic and student life experience.

    Language proficiency scholarship: A continuing student at SeAMK can apply for a language proficiency scholarship. SeAMK’s language scholarship aims to encourage students to learn the Finnish language in order to advance future employment of international degree students in Finland. Read more on Tuition Fees page.

  • Finnish language in the Seinäjoki Area, South Ostrobothnia (Etelä-Pohjanmaa)

    In Finland, there are two national languages: Finnish and Swedish. Finnish and Swedish are the official languages, reflecting Finland’s bilingual status. While Finnish is the predominant language in most parts of the country, Swedish is little more common along the west coastline and in the metropolitan area. Sami languages, recognised as European heritage languages, are spoken in northern Finland, Russia, Sweden, and Norway.

    While your academic program is in English, learning Finnish can greatly enrich your experience and employment opportunities in Finland. From enhancing your cultural understanding to opening up new employment opportunities, the benefits are manifold. Embrace the challenge and take advantage of the resources available to you. Your efforts to learn Finnish will undoubtedly pay off, making your time in South Ostrobothnia both memorable and rewarding: we hope you stay here making South Ostrobothnian success with us.

    In South Ostrobothnia, Finnish is the dominant language. This region is considered the heart of Finnish-speaking Finland, where you can naturally immerse yourself in the Finnish language and embrace the Finnish ‘sisu’ spirit in the “Capital of Space.” The Finnish saying “Luja tahto vie läpi harmaan kiven” reminds us that with enough determination and persistent effort, one can achieve remarkable things, such as learning Finnish. Once you have learned some Finnish, you embody the spirit of sisu!

  • Language use in the region of South Ostrobothnia

    South Ostrobothnia, known for its vibrant traditions and strong sense of community, offers a distinct cultural experience. The region is characterised by its unique dialect and a strong emphasis on local heritage and entrepreneurship which makes learning Finnish here even more rewarding.

    Dialect and Local Expressions: The Finnish spoken in South Ostrobothnia features specific dialectal variations. While these can initially seem challenging, they provide an interesting insight into regional identities and local history. Engaging with these dialects can help you feel more connected to the area.

    Community Engagement: South Ostrobothnia is known for its communal activities, festivals, and events that often reflect local traditions. Participating in these activities is a fantastic way to practice your Finnish and immerse yourself in the local way of life.

    Supportive Environment: The region’s communities are generally welcoming and supportive of international students learning Finnish. Many locals appreciate efforts to learn their language and are willing to help you practice and improve your skills. Take the first step and say “Hei, mitä kuuluu? Opiskelen suomea.” (Hello, how are you. I am learning Finnish.)

    Becoming an Interaction Initiator: Once you break through the initial Finnish shyness, you may find a lifelong friend. Finns can be reserved at first, so your role as an engaging icebreaker is crucial. By initiating conversations with locals, you not only foster a sense of belonging but also significantly enhance your Finnish language skills.