The Finnish language is only about 500 years old and closely related to Estonian, as they are both in the Uralic family. Approximately 5.2 million people speak Finnish around the world. It holds official language status in Finland and minority status in neighboring Sweden.
If you are considering learning to speak Finnish, classified by the DLI as Level III difficulty (out of IV), check out our unbiased review of FinnishPod101 by Innovative Languages.
**Verified September, 2020
Summary: FinnishPod101 Review
FinnishPod101 is an online and app-based language learning program for those who want to learn to speak Finnish. It offers hundreds of hours of Finnish podcast and professional video courses allowing you to learn the language when it is convenient.
You will find four expertise levels from absolute beginner to the advanced speaker and have the option of taking a placement test if you are unsure where to begin. There are also four subscription levels from which to choose including a free account. Some of the features you can find in the different levels include:
- New lessons added each week
- Complete access to podcasts, videos and learning tools
- Core words and phrases lists
- Vocabulary slideshows and flashcards
- Interactive lesson quizzes
- Access on mobile or computer
- Voice-recording tools
- One-on-one learning
PROS of FinnishPod101
Pro #1: Native-Speaking Instructors
Because the instructors are native-Finnish speakers, you get an authentic introduction to the language and its natural sound. Instructors speak slowly to fully enunciate the words and help you follow along. Most of the lessons are comprised of two instructors discussing an issue relevant to today’s society.
Pro #2: Comprehensive Grammar
You have the option of choosing the learning pathway that is structured similarly to the one you’d find in the classroom. This pathway is optimal for those who are seeking fluency since it not only gives you vocabulary and phrases but also takes you through explaining Finnish grammar. You will also find brief cultural explanations or side notes to enhance learning.
Pro #3: Ideal for Beginner/Intermediate Speakers
This program is full of useful resources and learning tools to kick-start a beginner’s journey to speaking Finnish. From the abundance of Finnish podcasts and video lessons to vocabulary slideshows, there is always something for the beginning to the intermediate speakers to study.
CONS of FinnishPod101
Con #1: Lacking for Advanced Speakers
On the other hand, advanced speakers looking for more listening practice will find the content lacking or that they’ve already covered it. Most advanced lessons simply aren’t as useful as the ones leading up to them. For a more immersive lesson culturally and grammatically, you may want to look elsewhere.
Con #1: English is Used Often in Lessons
Though English is used less and less as the lessons advance, it is still probably used too often at earlier levels. We feel this takes away from the student when they could probably understand some of the instructions given in Finnish.
Con #1: Feedback is Lacking
Unless you subscribe to the more expensive levels, you really won’t find any type of feedback as to how you are progressing. The dashboard, discussed in-depth later, will inform you of how far you’ve come related to the number of lessons completed, but there is really no clear way to find out if you’re becoming proficient in Finnish.
Features of FinnishPod101
The dashboard can come off as a bit confusing at first but becomes easier in time. This is where you will be taken upon logging into your FinnishPod101 account. You can check your progress, change expertise levels, find out the latest news and access your learning pathways here.
As mentioned, you can choose the structured learning pathway that will guide you through learning to speak Finnish as you would in a classroom. You can also choose from a variety of other pathways for quick, useful phrases and content such as Finnish for Travel, Emergencies in Finnish or Ordering Food in Finnish. This gives you the chance to take a break from your standard lessons and pick up new phrases and words on the side.
You have the ability to choose difficult words or phrases from your lessons and integrate them into slideshow vocabulary or flashcard tools. You will also find voice-recording tools to help you check your pronunciation against your instructor’s. These tools can make learning a bit less mundane.
Finnish Podcast and Video
These videos and podcasts are of high quality; unlike some, you might find elsewhere and we like that. Each lesson begins with one or two instructors speaking alone or with each other. Some are more engaging than others entertaining you with witticisms or cultural knowledge. There is often banter between instructors to make the lessons a bit more fun.
Lesson transcripts accompany both podcasts and videos and basically summarize what you have just learned including any important cultural norms. You will find the videos have the words flash across the screen as the instructors speak so you can see what you are saying. These detailed lesson notes can be printed for later review.
Who is FinnishPod101 For?
- Beginners FinnishPod101 offers a structured course for those just starting out.
- Those with time to dedicate to learning. Though the lessons are roughly 10-15 minutes each, learning another language requires a big-time commitment.
- Visually-stimulated learners will benefit most from the configuration of FinnishPod101.
- Highly-motivated individuals that want to become fluent or conversational in Finnish.
Who is FinnishPod101 NOT For?
- Those who require a classroom environment might find it difficult to remain motivated and continue with lessons.
- Those who require assistance frequently from an instructor might be better off taking an in-person course.
- Advanced Finnish speakers who want to dive deeper into subjects like Finnish traditions, holidays and government.
FinnishPod101 vs. Pimsleur Finnish
Pimsleur promises to teach you to speak conversational Finnish in just 90 days with 30 minutes of study per day. It uses the Pimsleur Method based on four principles including core vocabulary, organic learning, optimally spaced repetition and the principle of anticipation.
You will only find podcasts and little reading or writing exercises as this method believe that you learn best the way you learned your native tongue; by listening and repeating. Pimsleur offers a free three-day trial and two pay-as-you-go subscription levels.
FinnishPod101 vs. WordDive
WordDive is created by Finnish language teachers and claims to have you comfortably speaking Finnish in 90 days with 45 minutes of study per day. The courses include vocabulary, sentence structure, grammar lessons and conversational exercises.
WordDive will have you practice writing, reading, speaking and listening. Their system automatically optimizes the exercises necessary for each user to learn best. WordDive uses your working memory to encourage permanent learning; the key to successfully speaking Finnish.
Your free lifetime account grants you access to the first three lessons in each learning pathway, and new lessons are added each week. All subscriptions begin with a free seven-day trial period of the Premium plan including all of its features. After that, you can choose to keep your free account or upgrade to one of the following.
Keep in mind that the following plans are one-month costs. You can save money by purchasing a longer subscription plan of up to 24 months. All plans include the features of the previous, lower-priced subscription.
Basic Subscription Plan —
$8/Month $2.80/month (using this link)
- Complete access to video lessons and podcasts
- New content added weekly
- Detailed lesson notes
Premium Subscription Plan —
$25/Month $7/month (using this link)
- HD Video
- Voice-recording tools, flashcards, vocabulary slide shows
- Finnish audio dictionary
PremiumPLUS Subscription Plan —
$47/Month $16/month (using this link)
- One-on-one access to the instructor
- Personalized lesson plans
- Ongoing assessments and feedback
If you don’t like monthly payments (who does??), there’s a secret, one-time lifetime payment option.
FinnishPod101 Review: Final Thoughts
All things considered, FinnishPod101 offers one of the few online, on-the-go learning programs for learning Finnish. It offers a comprehensive library of lessons, but these may not be helpful to the more advanced learner. Highly-motivated, beginning speakers should find this course an adequate jumpstart to speaking Finnish.
Michael has been an avid language learner and traveler for many years. His goal with LanguageTsar is to discover the most fun and effective ways to learn a language. He is currently learning Japanese, French and Indonesian.