Dogs don’t ask questions

Interview with Jenni Anttonen, 12th May 2013

Keskustelua kuubalaisessa tanssikoulussa

Jenni is a Finnish enterpreneur whose job often includes organizing various events. She meets a lot of different people every day, and she also travels a lot in her spare time, so languages really come in handy. According to Jenni, you can get quite far with English alone in most places, but to truly know foreign people and their culture anywhere, you need to understand their language. Just by learning the basics of a language, an entire culture can open up for you.

Having been to Cuba a few times, Jenni has become frustrated in being unable to really communicate with the locals there. She has still picked up some Spanish during her travels, as at times there simply are no alternative languages to speak. In Finland, Jenni has also taken some Spanish courses and done some independent studying. Latin dances also keep her in touch with the Spanish language and the latino culture. She has also studied the language through music by listening and translating song lyrics. Jenni is not only interested in being able to speak Spanish, but also in the semantics of the language.

Even though she is constantly in touch with the Spanish language and the culture, Jenni has not really felt comfortable talking Spanish with native Spanish speakers in Finland. The only one she’s spoken Spanish with is her dog, but unfortunately a dog will not actually reply, comment nor pose any surprising questions!

Jenni is currently taking Learnia’s Spanish course Learnia’s Experiential Spanish 1 which has challenged her to really use Spanish. She has noticed that independent studying is simply not enough encouragement to actually speak the language when the chance or need arises. Having a teacher who encourages you to let loose and boldly speak really helps.

In particular, Jenni has liked how the course uses the surrounding environment to help in studying. You no longer need a helping second language when you can just point at real things. According to Jenni, the atmosphere of the course has been really fun and relaxed, and it has encouraged her to speak Spanish a lot more than traditional courses have.

The main challenge of the course is having to talk with actual native speakers. Jenni says: ”It’s great to encounter these real-life situations. When you succeed in them, it really encourages you to go ahead and just speak the language!” On the course, the students already have ordered drinks from a Spanish person at a café, and bought tickets from a Cuban person. Even complete beginners attend the course, and they have succeeded in these tasks just as well. In Jenni’s experience, the course sets itself apart from so-called ”traditional courses” in many ways, and that is a good thing!


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