Irina Pravet: Can you learn the hardest language in the world?

To have another language is to possess a second soul
— Charlemagne

Born in Romania, raised in Canada and now living in Finland, Irina Pravet has been translating herself across cultures and languages for as long as she can remember. She does not believe in the existence of a fixed set of ‘language learning talents’, instead she believes that we all have the ability to succeed in learning a new language by being strategic, having fun and playing with our natural strengths. Currently Irina is a Finnish language & transitions abroad coach at

Irina’s talk at TEDxOtaniemiED is titled ‘Can you learn the hardest language in the world?’ and delves into the increasingly relevant topic of foreign-language speakers learning Finnish - the so-called hardest language in the world.


We caught up to Irina for a few questions:

How did you get the idea for your TEDx talk?

I had just finished reading "Talk like TED" by Carmine Gallo and I thought: 'One day I'll do a TEDx Talk!' Then, a few days later, when I saw TEDxOtaniemiED was going to be held close by, I applied to be a speaker.

Learning languages is a passion of mine, and I've been especially focused on Finnish these past few years. I wanted my talk to bring together my passion for Finnish, but also acknowledge the reality of learning the language. Finnish is a challenging language to learn, but it can be done. So I wanted to bring people hope, and give them some tools for getting started. 

I rehearsed the talk a lot, and it developed throughout 3 weeks of intense practice. I'd never practiced anything so much.

I wanted to speak to both Finns and foreigners and create empathy between us.


What would you like to happen to your talk and your message?

I want people to watch the talk and feel inspired to learn Finnish, or to give it another try. I want them to know that they can learn, and I want them to know that they can overcome what was standing in the way.

Also, I have a message to the Finns: Share your language with us! We want to be allowed into your world.


What are you doing next?

I’m launching a holistic Finnish language course called 'The Finnish Adventure Course', which is focused on teaching yourself how to learn Finnish. The course is different because it's not based on your level. Instead, we focus on learning about your own strengths and learning style, and building the right habits so you can use what you learn and see yourself progress straightaway.

You can find me and more info about the course at

The talk is illustrated with Sketchnotes by Linda Saukko-Rauta at 

The talk is illustrated with Sketchnotes by Linda Saukko-Rauta at 

I think we could use more Finnish souls in this world
— Irina Pravet