The Association of Spanish Teachers in Finland estimates that at least 6,100 students are learning Spanish in schools. The booming interest in Spanish means that other languages, like French, are falling in popularity.
Tuija Turkki, the chair of the Association of Spanish Teachers, says students can begin learning Spanish in the third grade in Helsinki, Tampere and Oulu.
This year, some students at the Käpylä grade school in Helsinki are receiving instruction in both Finnish and Spanish. The move follows the decision by the City of Helsinki to launch bilingual studies in major languages. Last year, some students began learning in both Finnish and Chinese.
Spanish-language teacher Hanne Lyytinen says Spanish is easy to learn in the early stages. For instance, pronunciation is not difficult for Finns.
“But that doesn’t mean the language is easy. Challenges with grammar and verbs appear once you’re deeper into the language,” she says.
Adults are also keen on learning Spanish. It is the second most popular language to study after English at Helsinki’s Adult Education Centre. In fact, Spanish is even more popular among adults than among high school students.