”I use the saved time for group work and discussions.”
The Finnish expat Hannu Arvio from Barcelona has been teaching Finnish to Spaniards for about 12 years. “I have lived in Spain for 20 years. I used to work as a correspondent for a Finnish radio station, but for the last five years I have focused on educational and marketing activities of the private language school that I founded with three partners.”
Institut Nórdic, the private school led by Arvio and his partners, is a center for Nordic languages and cultures with long traditions. Before the commercial language school activities and incorporation, the association – founded in 1927 – was called Club Escandinavo. It was a place for Scandinavians residing in Barcelona to get together and organize communal activities.
“In our school, WordDive’s Comprehensive Finnish course package is part of the study material, and it is included in the course price. The results have been excellent – WordDive gives a turbo boost to studies. Thanks to WordDive, vocabulary expands, pronunciation improves and spelling errors almost disappear.”
Arvio thinks that using WordDive as study material is a great arrangement for the teacher. “I can outsource the time-consuming vocabulary exercises and use the saved time for teaching how to actually use the language: for example, we do a lot of group work and oral exercises.”
You have to figure out the language yourself
According to Arvio, many grammar areas have been practiced with WordDive to the point that they no longer need to be explained to the students. “In the example sentences students see grammar in practice all the time. When I then show them, for example, a grammar table, they experience an ‘Aha!’ moment”, Arvio explains.
Arvio thinks that one of the most important tasks of the teacher is to keep the student motivated. “You have to figure out the language yourself. My job is to guide them to reach such eureka moments.”
In Arvio’s opinion, another essential motivation factor is good team spirit. That’s why in Arvio’s class they talk about Finnish culture, do lots of group work, go out for coffee together and even organize a Finnish Christmas feast. “I want my students to come to my class also because it is fun and they’ve got friends there.”
Arvio says WordDive is really addictive to certain types of people. “Sometimes I notice that one of my students has suddenly become a super enthusiast. When others realize how much more the person using WordDive knows, his or her passion spreads to them as well.”
You should not be afraid of mistakes
In Arvio’s classes there is no need to be afraid of mistakes. “There are more than 2000 ways to end a Finnish word, and there are also 45 different verb types. So it is impossible to produce perfect sentences immediately. This is why I use the red marker very selectively. I think the most important thing is to focus on communication”, Arvio underlines.
According to Arvio, the methods that he uses work really well, at least with the Spanish adult students. He also thinks that they could be somewhat adaptable to language teaching in general, or at least to Finnish language teaching for immigrants.
”In Finnish language there are a few complicated things like word types and the changing of the word stems in different inflected forms. For example the word yksi (one) is declined in inessive case as yhdessä (in one). These two forms of the same word have only one letter in common! Such situations cause – even in my classes – momentary distress. That’s why it is vital to get the students to understand that you don’t need to learn everything right away and that making mistakes is perfectly okay”, Arvio points out.
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