1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Finnish
  4. >
  5. How long it may take for an E…


How long it may take for an English speaker to get to a good conversational level in Finnish?

How long it may take for an English speaker to get to a good conversational level in Finnish?

especially from online free ( and / or paid courses ) if he or she is lucky to be in Finland and / or have daily conversation with Finns in Finish

And how long it may take if he or she is not comfortable with English.

June 25, 2020


  • 1326

How long is a piece of string? Even if it were possible to give an average length of time, the time given could be completely irrelevant for any particular person. The average time might be informative, though, when combined with average learning times for a bunch of other languages, and in this regard, Finnish is considered a difficult language, i.e. it will take a considerable amount of time to learn it.

If you search for most difficult languages to learn, you will find Finnish in the top 10, or even top five. Yet it’s up to you to judge whether Finnish (or any language, for that matter) is difficult to learn or not. It all starts in your mind. If you want it, then go get it!


This quote is a bit too simplistic IMO (although some of the information could be helpful), but the gist is that if you are motivated and have fun learning Finnish, if you try to immerse yourself as much as possible in Finnish, can dedicate enough time to learning, etc., you will be able to learn Finnish to a good conversational level. How long it will take you, is ultimately up to you.

I think if you already are concerned about how long it might take you to learn a specific language, you are probably not motivated enough to even attempt it - unless you are thinking about your already planned vacation in Finland next year.


I am a language buff. I have tried over 60 languages till date. To be honest I am conversational or fluent in just about 5 of them.

I have reached the First flag post - i.e. I covered first 5 or 6 circles till Level 1 in the Finnish tree



What Jileha said.

Also, knowing English is kind of irrelevant for learning Finnish. There is very little overlap in grammar or vocabulary, except for some recent loanwords.

The only way English would really help in learning Finnish is because there are a lot of resources (like this one) using English as the base language. But if you know Russian or Swedish that helps with this, too, and of course the fashion is now for courses and books just using the target language and no base language at all.

Edit: And not knowing English might help with getting Finns in Finland to actually speak English with you so you can practice, instead of switching straight to English... Might being the key word here.


FSI puts it in group III - 1100 class hours plus at least 2200 hours plus self study - to reach "working proficiency" - which is not really "a good conversational level". It is classed the same as Hungarian which - after completing self study to A2 - I have spent over 700 (professional) class hours, heaps more self study, private tutors, and full immersion and am only just reaching that level.

A long time!


Hungary is from same language family than finnish so probably if you have learned other the other will come more easily. Also it always depends what is your mother language and earlier learnings. If you start from germanic it is different system in so many ways, of course it is hard. But like Spanish and Japanese speakers have head start with pronouncing.

If you know russian, swedish, or german you get advantage in vocabulary because we have borrowed many words from them or made with same idea than their words.

If you know language with case system like Mongolic languages it helps.

We have some level of formal/ in formal speak but not as deep as Japan/Korea have.

Rolling R from some other speak helps you. And the idea of sound length is important. (Tuli=fire, tuuli=wind, tulli=tariff)

To understand "niin" word it helps that you have ear for toonies like in chinese.

So it's really hard to say because everything depends how fast you notice new languages tricks and how you study and learn in your free time just for fun.

I know person who took only 3 months to be in same exsam at upper secondary afte coming to Finland without single lessons of language. Put also proles who haven't learned it in 10 years at living here.


The FSI figures are for native English speakers.

Hungary is from same language family than finnish so probably if you have learned other the other will come more easily.

It doesn't help much. They split about 3000 years ago. In my class there have been several language majors from Finland - they seemed to struggle with Hungarian as much as everyone else :-)

Learn Finnish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.