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Ask Away: 5 Questions for a Future Lawyer and High School Student of Finnish


We’re asking students, teachers, and counselors five questions on how languages play a role in shaping personal and professional success…

Meet Lex—a Sophomore from Connecticut who’s also a summer session student at Salolampi Language Villages, a Finnish language program operated in partnership with Salolampi Foundation and Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, MN.

"Ask Away: 5 Questions" banner with Alexander's portrait

1. When did you first start learning a language—how did you begin?

I first started learning Finnish when I was 5 years old. I went to family camp with my grandparents for a week and although I probably didn’t learn that much Finnish, it got me into going to Salolampi every year. My third year I went by myself, and I’ve been going to Salolampi every summer since.

2. What motivates you to learn Finnish? Has your motivation changed over time?

I’ve always wanted to learn Finnish because my dad’s side of the family is entirely Finnish. My paternal grandfather was raised speaking Finnish and he still speaks some.

I think that your background is a really important part of your personality and I wanted to explore some part of my heritage, which I don’t really do otherwise.

3. What advice would you have for other students who are looking for ways to use their language(s)—any practice tips?

Practice often! The main reason that you might not be advancing as much as you like is because you’re not practicing enough. Try to use your language practically somewhere, don’t just study from a book. The best way to improve your language skills is to use them.

Busy street with trolley in Helsinki4. What’s your favorite word or expression in Finnish—why (and what does it mean)?

Hyönteismyrkky, which means “bug spray.” I think it’s hilarious because of the pronunciation, which is exactly how it’s written. The absurdity of this one word in a sentence makes my day every time that I hear it, and I think that it’s a great word to know in northern Minnesota.

 5. What’s next on your journey with languages?

I’m going to Salolampi again this year to improve my Finnish further, and I want to be able to be a CIT (counselor-in-training) the year after this, so that I can spend a few weeks speaking only Finnish to campers. I think that this, possibly combined with going to Finland and speaking Finnish there, will really help further my ability to speak.

Interested in the Finnish language, like Lex? Check out our Lead with Nordic Languages page for resources on scholarship opportunities, student testimonials, videos, and more.  And, as always, don’t forget to share your language learning story @LeadWLanguages on social media!