Finnish for busy people

Finnish Self-Study Book Recommendations: What’s Your Goal?

This article contains Finnish self-study book recommendations. Hopefully, you will find some books that suit you!

It’s easy to ask which book you should be using; which textbooks are good for learning Finnish. However, there are so many different variables to consider.

  • What’s your goal? Why are you learning Finnish? What do you want to achieve?
  • Which areas of language do you want to focus on? What type of Finnish do you want to learn?
  • What type of learning style do you have? What’s the most effective way for you to learn?

This article contains some tips for Finnish self-study book recommendations depending on your particular goals. I have already a couple of other articles related to textbooks, so check out the following:

Below, you can find small lists where I showcase some of the books that come to mind when considering certain goals you might have when learning Finnish. These Finnish self-study book recommendations are my personal choices and you might feel differently about these books.

A2 Level Self-study Book Recommendations

The following list contains those books which I consider most suitable for an intermediate student (A2.1-A2.2) looking to improve their Finnish on their own. By now you should be able to handle a Finnish-only course book. This doesn’t mean that you’ll understand all the explanations, but you should be able to combine sources well enough to make it work.

No book on the market is perfect of course, but these books are decent.

  • Suomen mestari 2: Level A2.1, advances at a nice slow pace, appealing aesthetic, completely in Finnish, answers included, audio can be streamed for free! Score: 8/10 (see section 3.6.2)
  • Suomen mestari 3: Level A2.2, a noticeable jump in difficulty from book 2, but does advance in a reasonably slow pace, completely in Finnish, appealing aesthetic, answers included, audio can be streamed for free! Score: 8/10 (see section 3.6.3)
  • Sun suomi: Little bit chaotic, lovely inclusion of spoken Finnish and cultural information, audio and exercises must both be bought separately, some explanations in English. Score: 7/10. (see section 2.3)
  • Ahaa! 2: Nice aesthetic, vocabulary and grammar pretty balanced, completely in Finnish, not nearly enough exercises and not all exercises are good for self-study, solutions not available. Score: 5/10. (see section 3.1.2)
  • Suomi sujuvaksi 2: A4 size format is nice, mainly grammar focused, a lot of fill-in-the-gap exercises, solutions available for free online. Score: 8/10. (see section 3.7.2)

If you’re aiming to achieve level B2-C1

At this level, you should really start moving on from textbooks for immigrants and start immersing yourself in real language use through the internet and media. However, there are some books that you will still find useful.

  • Ruokaa suomeksi: Reading texts and exercises, grammar fairly basic, great opportunity to explore the derivation of words and broaden your vocabulary, focus on cooking, solutions not included. Score: 7/10 even without the solutions. (see section 5.6)
  • Suomen mestari 4: Last part of a solid textbook series, advanced grammar and important functional language elements (e.g. expressing compassion, giving support, politely saying “no”), audio can be streamed online for free, exercises included in the book, will get you up to level B2. Score: 8/10 (see section 3.6.4)
  • Suomen kieli kuntoon 2: Exercise book, learn phrases and advanced grammar constructions, mainly traditional fill-in-the-gaps exercises, solutions no longer available online. Score: 7/10, but a 9/10 if you can get someone to correct your exercises. (see section 3.17.2)
  • Suomen kielen tikapuut – Jatkotaso 1: Repetitive fill-in-the-gap exercise types, reading text and exercises are grammar focused, nice grammar explanations, solutions not included. Score: 7/10. (see section 3.10.3)
  • Suomen kielen tikapuut – Jatkotaso 2: Very similar to jatkotaso 1. Score: 7/10. (section 3.10.4)

Advanced students wishing to learn more about how Finnish works

How are Finnish words formed? What kind of derivations are common? If you have achieved a fairly good language proficiency (level B1+) and are interested in the derivation of words or how Finnish works as a system, these books will make you happy!

  • Ruokaa suomeksi: DERIVATION: Love, love, love this book as a tool for learning about derivation types! The exercises in this book give you the opportunity to explore the derivation of words. This is a good way to broaden your vocabulary. Everything in this book is focused around cooking, but the derivation types can be expanded to include other types of words. Can be used on its own without additional sources. Solutions not included. Score: 8/10. (see section 5.6)
  • Lessons on Finnish words: WORD FAMILIES: Very nice in combination with ruokaa suomeksi because you’ll be able to recognize the derivation types for non-cooking related vocabulary. This one is harder to use on its own because it is simply a collection of word lists. Score: 7/10.
  • Harjoitus tekee mestarin 3: WORD FORMATION: Exercise book for both derivation and the creation of compound words. Another great way to learn more vocabulary. Solutions to the exercises can be found online. Score: 8/10 (see section 3.16.3)
  • Miten sanoja johdetaan: DERIVATION: Excellent reference book with overviews of how words are derived, some little exercises with solutions included, no longer for sale. Score: 8/10 if you can find it. (see section 6.2)
  • Handbook of Finnish: REFERENCE GRAMMAR, which covers the basics but also offers lots of interesting titbits you’ll love to read. This book is written in English and sold as an e-book. Score: 7/10 (included here)
  • Finnish – A Complete Grammar: REFERENCE GRAMMAR: This book covers pretty much the whole of the Finnish language. Excellent book to look things up. It’s written in English and very analytical. Score: 8/10 (included here)

If you’d like to learn spoken language

Haluukko oppii puhekieltä? Of course spoken language is best learned in real life, listening and speaking to actual people. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little help from a textbook. Below are some good sources.

  • Sun suomi: Pretty superficial but covers the basics. This book contains explanations in English. There’s a CD included if you buy the book. Score: 6/10. (see section 2.3)
  • Kato hei: Starts from zero, but for self-study I recommend starting when your level is about A1.3. It has lots of good dialogues and spoken language grammar. You will have to invest in the audio. Score: 7/10. (see section 2.2)
  • Suomea paremmin: Starting level of A2.1 required. This book includes vital spoken language. The exercise types and listening exercises are good for YKI. Spoken language is always present in the book but not explicitly explained. This is a good follow-up for Kato hei. Score: 8/10. It’s no longer for sale, so you can lower that score significantly. (see section 2.10)

If you want to learn more about Finnish society

If you’re interested in learning more about Finnish society and culture, the following books contain useful content.

  • Kerron Suomesta: An easy-reader for levels A2.1-A2.2. This is just a thin booklet (58 pages), but it’s pretty nice if your goal is to learn about Finland. Score: 6/10
  • Selkeästi Suomessa: This book requires level B1. It’s meant as a social studies course book with serious topics, which makes it a little dry in my opinion. Score: 6/10 (see section 5.4)
  • Juttuja Suomesta: This book is easier (different levels from A1.3 to B1.2) and less dry. It contains everyday topics and is good for abroad if you’re interested in Finland. Score: 8/10
  • Learn Finnish without studying: This comic book style contains lots of cultural information about Finland. Most of the book is in English, with some random Finnish words related to cultural topics on each page. This book won’t teach you Finnish. Score: 6/10. (see section 2.14)

When preparing for YKI-testi

There are a lot of books available that have B1.1 as their goal, which isn’t surprising. Most immigrants in Finland will have heard many times that B1.1 is the magical language level, which is necessary to get the Finnish nationality and will get you accepted in schools and workplaces. There are several great books available you could invest in.

  • Suomea paremmin: Requires vital spoken language. The exercise types and listening exercises are good for YKI. Score: 8/10. No longer for sale, so you can lower that score significantly. (see section 2.10)
  • Suomen mestari 3: Necessary topics for A2.2–B1.1. This book contains important vocabulary topics and is good as a guide for what order to learn the grammar in, or which topics to combine. It advances at a reasonably slow pace. It’s written completely in Finnish, has an appealing aesthetic, the answers are included, and the audio can be streamed for free! Score: 8/10 (see section 3.6.3)
  • Kynä käteen: Writing exercise prompts, which include the types of texts you’ll like have to write in YKI. The book starts from level A2.1 but goes all the way to B1.1. Example solutions are available to analyze. Score: 8/10. (see section 4.10)
  • Harjoitus tekee mestarin 1–4: The whole series is useful. It’s grammar focused but has lots of great vocabulary you should actively learn. Get book 1 for cases and tenses, book 2 for participles and sentence constructions, book 3 for derivation and compound words and book 4 has reading and writing exercises. Score: 8/10. (see section 3.16)
  • Samalla kartalla 1–3: The first two books contain reading texts which are very suitable for YKI preparation, while the third contains exercises for the first two books. The whole series is good. Score: 8/10 (see section 4.2)

Did you find these Finnish self-study book recommendations helpful? Please check out my full textbook review if you want more options!

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Interesting points.

I recently started asking my significant other to read exercises to me. It’s been helpful to practice my speaking and grammar. I make many more mistakes speaking, so practicing orally instead of written helps. Doing exercises orally also means I practice listening comprehension and I have to remember the sentences in Finnish to repeat with the correction or modification.

I still like Finnish for Foreigners best. But I combine it and Suomen Mestari 2.

I would love to do more with Samalla Kartalla but it’s so much work and the vocabulary is very practical for living in Finland but that makes it less practical for me.