In Finland, the official languages, or national languages, are Finnish and Swedish. The Finnish language is the most used in Finland. In Ostrobothnia, the majority language of many municipalities is Swedish while in South Ostrobothnia the language of all municipalities is Finnish.
Learning a local language will help you to integrate in Finland, find work and things to do in your leisure time. Vaasa is truly bilingual, both Finnish and Swedish are used simultaneously in many work places and leisure activities. However you can get by very easily in English as well, and therefore you might have to put in an extra effort into learning Finnish or Swedish.
The purpose of integration training is to provide you with sufficient knowledge in Finnish or Swedish to be able to cope in society and work.
If you are registered as a jobseeker at TE Services (Employment Agency), you should fill in an initial survey and integration plan there. If a TE expert assesses that you need Finnish or Swedish skills to get employed, you can get into integration training. The TE Office will advise you when the course starts.
You can find language courses for example at Alma -Adult Education Centre in Vaasa. The enrolment in the courses is usually twice a year, in August for autumn courses and from December for spring courses.
More information about Alma and here is the link to enroll to courses. If you are a student, you can get a 10% discount on the course. If you are an unemployed job seeker, you can get a 50% discount on the course.
Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education in Finland service (SIMHE)
SIMHE provides free guidance to immigrants who already have university studies or who intend to apply for studies. The goal is to help immigrants with higher education in Finland and related work life issues, and the service therefore also organizes Finnish and Swedish language courses. You can find free courses here.
Ask the Service Advisor at Welcome Office for more advice on suitable courses or other groups where you could learn Finnish or Swedish.
Finnish language self-study
On the internet there are a lot of different Finnish language courses and other material that allows you to study the Finnish language.
FOR EXAMPLE THE FOLLOWING COURSES ARE ON THE INTERNET
- Yle Language School (Kielikoulu) – a service where you can study Finnish or Swedish by viewing Yle’s video content in the application or browser.
- Duolingo – free application, where you can study Finnish and Swedish easily and quickly by doing exercises.
- Supisuomea: vocabulary (YLE)
- Supisuomea: videos (YLE)
- Selkouutiset (YLE) – news in simplified Finnish
- Suomen kielen alkeet – Basics of the Finnish language
- Professional vocabularies. North Karelia Adult Education Center Online Materials for Immigrants
- Vocabulary of various professional fields by the Finnish Government
- Hauska tavata! Opin suomea. (Nice to meet you! I am learning Finnish.) (Suomen Kustannusyhdistys).
- Suomi taskussa (Suomi Taskussa Oy) – Finnish in your pocket. Listen and see how to act in different situations in Finnish, and go and practice yourself.
- Suomea maahanmuuttajille (WordDive Oy). Finnish for immigrants.
The course helps you learn the basics of the Finnish language and includes everyday words and phrases.
- Selkosilta– Plain language materials for professionals in different fields (the care sector, the cleaning services sector, the construction sector, the metal sector, logistics)
- Opi-suomea Learn-Finnish
Swedish language self-study
You can find many different courses and materials in Swedish online. More information about the Swedish language in Finland (integration education, courses and online studies) on the InfoFinland pages.
You can also learn with the help of applications such as
- Kielitoimistonsanakirja Dictionary of Contemporary Finnish
- Webxicon Dictioanary in multiple languages
- Redfox dictionary (multiple languages)
- Ilmainen sanakirja
- Synonyymit -find synonyms for Finnish words
- Selkosilta– photo and video dictionaries for professionals in different fields
- Opetushallinnon sanasto
You can find more online courses in Finnish at InfoFinland: the Finnish language on the Internet — InfoFinland.
Immerse yourself in the local language
Service Advisor Petra at Welcome Office in Vaasa gives a few recommendations to learn a language:
- Find friends at hobbies of your choice and be adamant about speaking in Finnish/Swedish. Or register for FinTandem course at Alma.
- Watch Finnish television such as easy news in Finnish or listen to easy news in Swedish at YLE or a soap series like Salatut elämät (ongoing since 1999) or other Finnish series, that you can easily find on the Finnish broadcasting service or app YLE Areena.
- Read news in easy Finnish (fi: selkosuomeksi) at YLE.
- Take every opportunity to train Finnish/Swedish all around the city, e.g. at your local supermarket.