Teaching English with Matti From Finland

“Can I write you on my blog?” I asked.

“Can you.. What?” He replied.

“Can I write about you on my blog?” I repeated.

“You write about me on your blog?” He confirmed.

“Ya, may I?” I asked for permission.

“Ya…. You can. Write only the good things, okay?” He laughed after saying it.

“Haha… Okay. I’ll write it neutral.” I also laughed.

“You write a blog?” He asked me.

“Ya.” I replied.

“It’s uncommon people write a blog here, right?”

“Yeah.. But I write.”

That was an afternoon chit chat with a volunteer from Finland. The country itself is called as Suomi. I’ve just known about that from the cards he had given to the learning center as educational tools before he left Bali.



Souvenirs fromMatti Aho

So, in May we had Matti Aho, a Finnish man, who came to our learning center in Yayasan Eka Chita Pradnyan as an English teacher. Although we had only one volunteer for that month, we really enjoyed it as a wonderful and colorful month!

He came to Bali with his family, his wife Saara Aho and his daughter Ella Aho. They stayed at the hotel near Balian Beach. So he went to the learning center from the hotel by motorcycle. He was formerly an ice hockey player. He also has ever worked as a teacher for the kids who are taken care by the government because their parents are not able to do that. And then he started studying something like pedagogy in the University of Turku.

When Mrs. Ketut told me that there would be a volunteer from Finland who came with his family, I thought that he would be probably an old man. But I was wrong. He is not that old. He is 34 years old. His wife is also in the same age and his daughter is 5 years old – she is very cute and sweet.

In our first talk, he said, “this is all so interesting.” I thought it was like… Whoa wait, we even haven’t started yet?! And he said that he couldn’t wait to learn from me. Later on I found out that he was really enthusiastic to teach some lesson at the learning center. We didn’t have any difficulty to communicate, he is talkative enough and very supportive. He praised me for speaking English very well.


Matti is a friendly person. He is very nice and friendly to the children at the learning center and to my sons. He gives compliment easily. He has ever said in the class that the boys’ handwriting are very good. Way different with the boys in Finland. Wow. Hahaha. He also said that what I write on the board is beautiful. When he heard one of the girl singing, he murmured spontaneously, “good voice”.

We learnt from each other about how to teach. He gave a lot of ideas of sport games for the kids. And I show him the way I teach English to the students. He taught the kids for making slideshow using computers too and how to search information from the internet. Not only that, we also watched Shaun The Sheep video together using the projector in the computer lab. And the kids worked in small groups to tell the story about every scene they watched. Because it’s a funny animation, mostly we laughed at the video.


He could play the guitar too. So in the class we sing “The Wheels on The Bus” with the children and with him playing the guitar. He also made some prints out about vocabulary and by the help of Saara and Ella, they made cards for memory game about some verbs. What a pleasant thing they did!


He asked me how I find topics for the lesson plans. I told him that I mostly searched it first from the internet, and I found it easier from Facebook. Next I would write it down on my notebook and prepared some exercise for the students. Then he told me that I could find out more ideas on Pinterest. He sent me a link to my Facebook about the example of English lesson idea from Pinterest.


I also wondered how come he got a lot of sport games? So, this is how we worked together: 1 hour for the English lesson in the class. For vocabulary, grammar, writing or speaking. And then we got 15 minutes break. Next, Matti invited the kids to go to the volleyball field to play some games, sometimes using ball. And he had many different games to play, indeed.


For me, one of the best game + lesson that we played was “telling direction”. First, he taught the kids how to tell direction, the easy ones, such as… ‘Turn left’, ‘turn right’, ‘take one steps’, ‘take two steps’, ‘take a big steps’, ‘take a little steps’, and ‘jump’. Then he asked the kids to play in small groups consist 2-4 kids. One of them had to close her eyes and the rest of the group members would tell the direction on the yard with some path ways that Matti has drawn with colorful chalks.


Where he got these game ideas? He told me from BBC.co.uk. Yeah… I had ever learnt Italian, German and French too from that site. And I told him about that. We also tried to learn each other maternal language. What I remember, ‘kiitos’ and ‘nahdaan’. Which they mean thankyou and bye bye in Finnish. He told me that the pronunciation of Finnish is different from English. They pronounce the exact letters as they are. So, it is the same like Indonesian. But in Finnish there are different vowels for different pronounciation.


Matti is also a funny person. When I asked the kids to mention the differences between Matti and Koming, the student there.. It was mentioned that Matti had a ‘pointed nose’. Then he said, “It’s good for me as a teacher, so I can do pointing at the student like this” He use his nose to point at the children, as if his nose was very long like Pinocchio!

When I showed him that we have many flash cards, he also laughed at the picture of the cards. What made him laugh was the depiction of feelings and emotions, such as “sick”, “nausea” or ” tired”. Yep, dunno why those cards were so funny for him :D. Because I already saw those cards before and I didn’t laugh at the picture of the cards at all! Ha ha ha. Maybe I was too serious.


I notice the unique things from him:

  1. He always points to something that close using his middle finger, but if it is to point to somebody he uses his his hand not his finger.
  2. When we talk, we almost never use the word “yes”, we use “yeah” or “ya” instead
  3. He wondered what we do when I said to the students, “let’s pray together” after the class. I guess he is not a religious person. The next question from him amazed me. It’s like “Do you pray to God?”, “what is the name of your God?”, “what for do you pray?”, “do you ask something to your God?”, ” what do you ask?” ummm something like that. Because in his country, he said that people don’t pray really often. People can pray at the churh on Sunday, but not many people do that. He told me that the religious ceremony is for newborn baby and funeral. So, yeah… We talked about religion and different culture of ours.
  4. His name is pronounciated as “Mat-ti”.. However in Indonesian it sounds like “mati” which means “dead”. When I say his name or call him in front of the students, I knew we feel a strange feeling hearing his name, sometimes we laugh because it’s quite tickling-our-ears to say his name. When I asked about what his name meaning, he couldn’t tell anything becuase it doesn’t have a meaning! Okay, I got it, it’s just a name. I have ever told him that his name sounds that same as a word in Indonesian that means ‘dead’. He just answered, ” it’s okay. I’m alive.”


Finland is in the Scandinavia, northern Europe. He confirmed me that he is a scandinavian. Unfortunately he couldn’t tell me about the Vikings. Because the Vikings is more to Sweden, he said. He lives in Turku, I forget how many kilometers from Helsinki. He said that the weather in Finland is always cold. Never as warm as in Indonesia. However, he is a warm person and very helpful. I feel much gratitude having the chance to teach with him and learn a lot from him. We always discuss our lesson plan before and after class and then we can talk about anything. 🙂


Matti, Saara and I had some talk about how different Indonesia with Finland. They told me that it is very colorful in Indonesia, the sun shines brightly here and the people are friendly. Saara told me that in Finland people don’t say hello to each other when they meet on the street. And Matti said that it is like boring because in Finland is very cold and they get nothing to do. Even there is a time that the days are almost always dark. Like a sunset.

Yeah that’s what I heard about Scandinavia. And also about the midnight sun. In Finland they pay high taxes so they can get medical and education services in low cost. Some people in Finland speak Swedish too besides of Finnish. Matti himself speak Finnish, Swedish and English.


I have ever came to the learning center with Kalki and Kavin. But it was only Kalki who got the chance to meet Ella. And Kalki was being shy to say hello to Ella. On the farewell party for Aho family, finally Kalki got the willingness to give a goodbye gift for Ella. 🙂


♡ Intan Rastini