Why do so many of us struggle to learn Finnish?

Talk to anyone about why they’re struggling to learn Finnish and you’ll hear a variety of reasons. As someone who has struggled myself and has also helped others overcome this struggle, I have a slightly different take on why we struggle, and how we can re-frame what’s happening to overcome it.

Click here for info & registration to Finnish Through New Eyes now open for May/June.


This might suprise you (or maybe not…) but I spent years obsessing over the question of: how can I learn Finnish better?

It was a puzzle – a koan – that I thought about constantly, always looking for more ways to crack it. You see, I had some skin invested in the game. I grew up identifying as a ‘good language learner’ so when I moved to Finland, learning Finnish was my #1 priority.

I did well right out the gate, saw fast progress through the beginning stages or so. I anticipated speedbumps, which I hit and crossed. I’d take breaks from being frustrated, but I’d always resume. I can do this!

Until, I couldn’t. I felt like all the progress I was making was a losing battle. The end seemed elusively far on the horizon… slipping back for every step I took forward. 

Instead of looking at the how of what I was doing, I took this out on myself. “If I’m supposed to be good at this… why am I not good at this!??!” I can’t say this was entirely conscious but it was this silent shame I lived with for awhile.

So I held onto my koan more tightly than ever: how can I do this? 

And you know what happened? The noise between me and that intention fell away. My beliefs about myself and my abilities didn’t seem to matter as much, so long as I kept showing up. As I shed the illusion of my expectations more and more, the process started to reveal itself to me.

I’ve done things in Finnish that I never could’ve imagined were possible (most recently, a podcast interview in Finnish, coming soon!) and I have my sights set on doing even more to keep expanding my own perceptions.

The way I did this was to first realize why I was struggling. And over time, my obsessive koan shifted from how can I learn Finnish, to how can I help others learn Finnish? 

So that brings us to today, and the video which explains what’s going on.

Today’s video on why so many of us struggle to learn Finnish is packed with insights I’ve gleamed over the years facing my own struggles, but my intention here was to help pave a way forward, to get us out of the mud.


I’ve come to believe that we’re all wired to learn Finnish – any and every language – in a way that feels fun, flows with ease and is unique to us. 

​​So if your experience is any less than that (fun, ease-y and fits your life), check out the Finnish Through New Eyes program. Registration is now open for May/June 2019 and you can find all the info here.

Do you recognize yourself in the struggle? Leave a comment below to share your experience or send me a message by clicking here if you have any questions about the program. I love hearing from you!

xx Irina

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Hi! I’m Irina.

I’m a multibelonger to Finland, Canada and Romania, without ONE language or culture to call my own – I have several. My intention is to be present where I am and find inner peace and harmony where ever life takes me. I’m embracing the gems of the ongoing cultural and linguistic transition which is my life and hope to inspire others interested in doing the same. Click here to find out more!