Sámi classes breathe new life into Finland’s rarest languages

By Maura Forrest and Lily Haines | Barents Observer

In Inari, Finland, the Sámi Education Institute is teaching young people to speak the languages of their ancestors.

A new crop of students is about to graduate from the Sámi Education Institute’s Inari Sámi language class. Inari Sámi is one of Finland’s most threatened languages, with just a few hundred native speakers remaining. But these language classes promise to turn students into fluent Sámi language speakers in just eight months.

The courses use a combination of classroom teaching and cultural immersion, where students spend time working with native language speakers in the Sámi community. BarentsObserver went to Inari to learn why young people are taking these classes, and how their new language skills are changing their lives.

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