In the previous blog entries I told you the story about how I started learning Finnish and got my first workplace in Finland. Today I will complete the story and share with you some useful tips on how to pass the YKI test needed for your professional life and the citizenship if you are planning to get it one day.
Practice is your everything
Once I got back from Austria, I did not feel like applying for any language courses. I tried to speak as much as I could every day. I overcame my fear of talking in Finnish to strangers and started working on my accent. Instead of learning long and fancy phrases, I was explaining myself by using simple words and sentences and paying a lot of attention on how my speech sounded and how different people were reacting to it. My third year at the university got a tough schedule straight away due to 2 workplaces, courses and attempts to find a good internship for the summertime. I simply did not have time to learn Finnish by spending more time on books and exercises.
Leaving your comfort zone
In December 2013, my life changed dramatically. Hard work always pays off, and it did back then. I got an internship in Mediatalo Toimelias Oy, and in 1 month my CEO sent me as a translator on a press-tour organized by the Finnish Ski Area Association. I will tell the stories related to my current workplace later on because they deserve some special attention. From this moment one, I started practicing my Finnish skills even more. Instead of talking to my Finnish colleagues in English (our corporate language), I pushed myself to turn to them in Finnish every time.Yes, it was stressful, and yes, it was challenging. But as the result, it brought my life to a new level and gave amazing opportunities.
An awesome way to learn new words
During the conversations, when I did not know a word, I said it in English, they translated it to Finnish, and I used this word again and continued speaking Finnish. In my opinion, this is an awesome way to learn new words. I am truly grateful to my colleagues for being patient and willing to help me learn the language. Besides, my work tasks included translations from Finnish into English and Russian, and it was also helpful in the way of learning new words and phrases.
YKI test (keskitaso)
After two long years, in December 2015, I decided to get back to the academic way of learning the language and set a new goal – pass the intermediate level test in Finnish, so-called Suomen kielen keskitason testi. This test is aimed at skill levels 3-4 (the highest level is 6) and suitable for those who use Finnish every day but cannot yet take an active presenter’s or expert’s role in the foreign language. This test is held only 4 times a year, so I decided not to dwell on it and signed up for the one in April. To keep myself more focused on studying, I also signed up for an evening course called Suomisoppa 1 at Kansalaisopisto. This course was organized for those people who were already quite good at Finnish and could manage conversations about different topics.
I truly suggest you courses at Kansalaisopisto. If you are active during the classes and do your homework well, you can really improve your language skills there. Besides, these courses are super-affordable – you pay around 70-80 euros for the course lasting for 1,5 hours 2 times a week during 3 months (48 hours in total). It is really nothing in comparison to personal lessons that cost 20-40 euros each. You can check the courses and prices on their website.
How to get prepared for the test
When I told my teacher that I was planning to pass the test, she invited me to the intensive course at Etelä-Karjalan kesäyliopisto. This course called Yki-valmennuskurssi is aimed at preparing you for the test. It is usually held a couple of weeks before the examination day, lasts for 2 days (10 hours) and costs 110 euros.Without this course, I probably would not get all the highest scores for my test. A great teacher, Tiina Pasanen, explained to us the structure of test, gave similar exercises to practice all the 4 parts of the test and helped me, personally, not to get stressed during the test. On my examination day, I knew exactly what was going to happen, and that is why I managed to complete all the tasks on time and with the maximum output. If anyone is interested what was in the exam in April 2016 – contact me, and I will send you the details.
To get myself prepared for this test, I was doing exercises almost every weekday for 2-3 hours during 1,5 months here. In my opinion, it is a great way to prepare for listening and reading parts of the test free of charge. I also have a great book ‘Kielo’written by Hanna Tani which might be helful for getting the B1 level and ‘3’ for the test. I can send it to you by the email, if you are interested.
Demo-version of the test
If you want to learn the structure of the test, see some examples of the exercises and take a demo-version of the exam, go and check this website!
Examinations days and places can be easily found here. Try to sign up for the placeas early as possible. Otherwise, you can lose an opportunity to take this test in your town and have to go to some other place.
To have an opportunity to apply for a Finnish citizenship, you need to pass the test and get an academic score ‘3’ for each part of the test or for a special combination:
Speaking (3) and writing (3)
Listening comprehension (3) and writing (3)
Reading comprehension (3) and speaking (3)
Believe me, getting ‘3’ is not so difficult at all. So, do not stress over if your goal is just to pass the test. I wanted to get this certificate for my professional career, so ‘3’ was not an option. My goal was to get to all the ‘4’s, and that is why I pushed myself to work hard. I knew that if I did not get them, I would have taken the test again. After 2 long months of waiting for the results, I got my letter from the University of Jyväskyla that sent me the certificate. When I saw the results I worked hard for, I shared the news with people who helped me achieve this goal and thanked them for their priceless help.
The set of the blog entries “How I learned Finnish” is complete now. Please, like this page and share it with your friends, if this information was useful for you.Later on, if I find some more good materials and courses for studying Finnish, I will definitely share them with you. Thank you for your time and interest showed to this story! Are you planning to take this test some day? Contact me, and I will give you more details about it!