Finnish finally gets Duolingo treatment with new app-based course

The company says Finnish has been one of its most-requested languages, and from today people can begin learning on their phones.

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File picture of young man holding Finnish flag / Credit: iStock

It’s been one of Duolingo‘s most commonly-requested language courses, and now Finnish is getting its own lessons on the popular mobile phone app.

From Wednesday language enthusiasts can begin learning Finnish in ten-minute-per-day chunks, from a course put together by a small team of volunteers and language experts in Finland.

The company says the app is supposed to be an extra language tool, and helps supplement other learning methods like real life scenarios, or watching television with subtitles, and it’s been something their users have been asking about for a long time.

“It became a bit of an in-joke at work any time we would launch a new course the first post would be ‘when are you launching Finnish’ and we’ve been working on it for a while” says Duolingo’s Colin Watkins.

The company says there’s about half a million people in Finland who don’t have Finnish as their first language and they hope the new addition to their app will help people become more integrated.

“If you’re in Finland, having more Finnish will help you in day-to-day life, you might recognise what’s on the menu, or be able to respond to some common greetings and questions” Watkins tells News Now Finland.

“We also think the new Finnish course will be popular with the Finnish disapora worldwide, which runs into millions. People who have a basic grasp but want to learn more, and there’s pockets of them in the UK, Australia, Canada and the USA” he explains.

“But there’s polygolots and brain trainers too, people who go through every course because they love learning languages and love challenging themselves” Watkins adds.

After completing the Duolingo Finnish course, students should be able to attain a B1 level of proficiency in the language – enough to pass the language test requirements for citizenship.

Developing and preserving languagesĀ 

As well as dozens of mainstream languages, Duolingo has carved out an important niche in developing courses in minority languages like Maori, Scots Gaelic, Hawaiian, Navajo, Haitian Creole, Yucatec and Ki’che – not just to help more people learn something new, but to spread awareness and preserve linguistic cultural heritage as well.

The company has also ventured boldly into constructed languages, with hundreds of thousands of people learning High Valyrian from Game of Thrones, or Star Trek’s Klingon tongue.

Finns have already been quite actively using the Duolingo app with 21% learning Spanish, 14% learning Swedish and 7% using it to learn Russian.

The new Finnish course has been tested on a small scale in recent months, and now that it is fully available for free to anyone who wants to sign up, the course will be adapted and improved as more people – especially native speakers – interact with the app and provide feedback.