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Finns advised to speak ”plain Finnish” to foreigners

Yle and the Finnish Centre for Easy to Read, or Selkokeskus, launch a campaign on Wednesday to encourage Finns to speak Finnish with foreigners. The campaign will promote plain language, or ’Selkokieli’, as a tool to help foreigners learning Finnish.

Aibiguy pitelee kylttiä
A.B. Guy is studying Finnish in Helsinki. Image: Selkokeskus

It’s a familiar problem for foreigners learning Finnish: practicing the language is difficult when everyone speaks English to you. Yle and the Finnish Centre for Easy to Read (the official translation of ’Selkokeskus’) start a campaign on Wednesday to encourage Finns to speak Finnish—not English— as much as possible when communicating with foreigners.

Especially in the workplace, many Finns switch to English when they think it will make communication easier. Finnish communication is often also a little more distant, and lacks the focus required in dialogue with a language learner.

Pertti Seppä, a journalist at Yle’s Selkouutiset ’plain Finnish’ news service, offers some simple rules for Finns in communicating with people who are still learning the language.

1) Listen calmly to what the other person says, without getting nervous and switching to English.

2) Use simple, everyday phrases.

3) If you don’t understand, ask!

Yle’s Selkosuomi plain Finnish news service is available online here.

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