A few minutes to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday afternoons at Sello Library it’s time to start our language cafe for adults. There is a real happy bustle and babble in the library living room near the main lounge.
Puhumme suomea- kielikahvila = We speak Finnish- language cafe is about to start.
Those whose language skills are such that they can have a short simple conversation in Finnish language, grab a cup of coffee or tea and head to their groups on the 2nd floor.
Our group is very diverse, and people come from several countries. There are men, women, young, and elderly people. They have come to Finland for different reasons or they are born here. Anyways they are mostly welcome to join the discussion groups to learn and use Finnish.
The library doesn’t set any requirements or demand any skills in Finnish language. You can come with zero skills of the language. Finnish speaking volunteers and library personnel join as facilitators leading and helping with topics discussed. Every language cafe have always from 6 to 9 Finnish speaking persons present.
The start is a hassle every time. My colleague Sadiq brings the coffee and tea tray by 5 pm. Together with our helper Shaimaa we welcome our customers with kind words and exchange news and Hellos. Soon we are talking around the tables sipping coffee and tea and hearing the daily news. We always have material for studying and discussion. That way studying this difficult language gets easier. it is not obligatory to use it but many of us likes to have something at hand. Our volunteers also bring some interesting material with them. There are evenings when we are so many that we spread us to the other places in our library f.eg. makerspace or children’s section.
We find it as important to meet new people as to learn our language. It makes me very happy to see that the atmosphere seems to stay cheerful and positive every time. People happily talk to each other and I love to watch and listen to that. Many of the participants have made good friends and now know each other but there is no problems or threshold for new members to join this magnificent group of language cafe people.
Now and then, when we get Mr. Timopekka from Tapiola Library to join us with his guitar, we start our cafe singing. We have had other visitors also. We would love to have visitors who can fill in and tell about social issues and Finnish society and welfare.
Language cafe close officially at 6 pm, but people are not in a hurry anywhere.
Our method is very simple. We don’t serve a language course in Finnish language. We help people to get together, meet, train and practice Finnish by discussions and dialog. Just pick any topic or subject you want to talk about.
There seems to be enough demand for future also!
Marjatta Karjalainen, Ms.