28 Sep Learner Spotlight: Hannes Valtonen
Learning a new language is one thing, but learning it in less than a week is almost unheard-of. This month, we talk to Hannes Valtonen, a certified polyglot who traveled to the UAE straight from Hong Kong to learn Arabic.
Follow his exciting journey and find out how he did it in just a week!
Why did you choose to learn Arabic?
I currently live in Hong Kong but grew up in Finland where I studied languages starting from a young age (learning three foreign languages is a common requirement for schools in Finland). I speak 6 languages including East Asian languages such as Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and was looking for a new challenge. This is when I decided to learn Arabic. I chose this language because it will help me access thriving businesses in the Middle East.
“I chose this language [Arabic] because it will
help me access thriving businesses in the Middle East.”
You speak 6 languages – Wow! What keeps you motivated to learn more?
Learning a language has opened up various opportunities for me as I have been working around the world. Plus, I personally consider learning foreign languages rewarding as I get to explore new perspectives.
What’s the secret of learning Arabic in 6 days?
For intensive short-term study, I recommend finding an experienced teacher and making arrangements for a suitable curriculum and comfortable study venue. In general, the more languages you know, the easier it is to learn the next language because vocabulary and grammar can be similar. Even if there are a few commonalities, it still helps to find familiar patterns to associate one language with another.
Tell us about your learning journey. How did you find out about Eton Institute?
I had a short time frame for learning, and was considering various Arab countries. I eventually narrowed my options down to the UAE for ease of travel and for the opportunity to become familiar with the country. After contacting several language schools and evaluating their courses, I decided to learn Arabic at Eton Institute in Dubai.
“After contacting several language schools and evaluating their courses,
I decided to learn Arabic at Eton Institute Dubai.”
What have you found the easiest and the most challenging part of learning Arabic?
Arabic grammar is fairly complicated and takes time to become familiar with it. It’s a bit like solving puzzles. Pronunciation is also quite distinct and there is a wide range of consonants. The vowels are actually pronounced with more sounds than the three short and long vowels a, i and u. To be honest, I could not find an ‘easy’ aspect in learning Arabic but because of Rana’s help, my instructor at Eton Institute, and the helpful learning material, I did it so quickly and effectively.
What’s next for you? Do you plan on learning more languages, or will you further develop some of the ones you’ve already learned?
After a week studying Arabic in Dubai, I will spend a week learning the basics of Hindi in India. Also, I am simultaneously taking follow-up courses to maintain and improve my knowledge of previously learned languages such as Chinese and French.
Do you have any advice for people who may want to start learning a foreign language?
My advice is that language learners should keep an open mind. It is not helpful to compare your own language with your new one in too much detail. Languages have different structures and features, and it is best to learn a new language as a totally new framework. After all, your aim is to speak, read and think effectively using the new language.
“… language learners should keep an open mind”
Watch Hannes speak in Arabic after learning the language in less than a week: