Easy Finnish in speech and interaction

Easy-to-understand speech supports the progression of conversation in situations where there are people present who need easy-to-understand language.
Easy-to-understand speech

  • helps the people in conversation to build mutual understanding and solve problems with comprehension
  • encourages the people in conversation to interact and inspires them to take the initiative
  • increases the experience of positive and rewarding interaction among the people in conversation regardless of linguistic difficulties.

Some of the guidelines for writing in Easy Finnish are also well suited for spoken language. For example, long and abstract words are difficult in both written and spoken language. Some of the guidelines for written language are not suited or sufficient in the case of spoken language.

When interacting in Easy Language, the most important thing is to have genuine desire to encounter the partner you are in conversation with and build the interaction together with them. The following instructions are helpful:

  • Listen to the person you are speaking with. Do not fill up every quiet moment with needless talk.
  • Encourage the other person to express their opinion and advance the conversation by asking different questions, for example.
  • Help your partner in conversation to orientate themselves with the conversation e.g. by telling them what you intend to talk about and in what order.
  • Use natural spoken language. Speak calmly but not too slowly.
  • If you do not understand what your partner in conversation is saying, ask them to elaborate.
  • If the other person does not understand you, rephrase what you just said. Provide an explanation for difficult words and concepts if they have to be used.
  • Use various supportive methods, such as images, drawings, expressions, and gestures.

The guidelines for easy-to-understand speech are in part based on conversation analytical research on conversational asymmetry. Conversational asymmetry refers to conversations where the skills of the communication partners are at very different levels, for instance when one of the partners is speaking their mother tongue which for the other partner is a foreign language.

Overview of theoretical literature on Easy Finnish in speech and in interaction (in Finnish).