Linguist: Estonian is only the 3rd-most spoken language in Ida-Viru County ({{commentsTotal}})

The college's unusual shape represents a cast of a historical merchants building constructed in 1704 but destroyed, along with the rest of the city, in World War II. Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Mart Rannut, the Head of Estonian Language Lectorate at the University of Tartu's Narva College, said to ERR that there is lack of motivation to learn Estonian in Narva.

Rannut conceded that there are many issues and problems, when it comes to learning Estonian, in a county where only about 20 percent of the population is Estonian-speaking and the rest are mostly Russian.

“One of the problems is the current learning methodology. We need to change something in structure, enabling Estonian learners to put new language skills into better use at schools and work places,” Rannut said.

“The main obstacle is a lack of motivation on behalf of Russian speakers. Estonian is not even the second-most spoken language in the county – English is,” Rannut said.

“It is important to change the mindset. Without learning Estonian, there will be less educational and career opportunities. At present, many Russian parents tell to their children that learning Estonian is not a priority. If we manage to alter this way of thinking, the number of Estonian speakers would gradually increase in Ida-Viru county,” he said.

Ida-Viru County is in the most northeastern part of Estonia. With a population of about 150,000, 80 percent are ethnic Russians. This contrasts dramatically from the rest of the country, where in most counties, about 80 percent are ethnic Estonians.

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