Starting this September, the Integration and Migration Foundation will be offering free Estonian language courses at the elementary and intermediate levels to residents of Estonia whose integration has been limited. Almost 6,000 people applied for places on the A2, B1 and B2 courses, registration for which opened in June.
“Both the Estonian Integration Monitoring 2015 and the number of people who have applied show that interest in studying Estonian has grown among those people living in the country, who speak other languages,” said Minister of Culture Indrek Saar. “At the moment we’re doing everything we can to ensure that everyone who’s applied gets to attend a course and study Estonian on a regular basis.”
Dmitri Burnašev, the director of the Integration and Migration Foundation, said that this was the first time in recent years that Estonian language studies at the elementary and intermediate levels had been offered to such a broad target group via open registration. The foundation’s aim was to determine how many people are actually interested in studying the national language.
Between June and August a total of 5,961 people registered for the courses on the Integration Foundation website. More than half of the applicants (3,873) were from Tallinn and 1,665 from Ida-Viru County, with majority (823) based in Narva. The most popular level of studies among those registering was B2, followed by B1, which is the level required for the Estonian citizenship exam.
Everyone who has been accepted onto the courses will first be given a placement test by the training company which will show their actual level, and who goes into what group, and how the groups are put together, will be decided on that basis,” Burnašev explained.
The first groups, representing a total of 540 people, will commence their studies this month. These initial courses will be taking place in Tallinn, Narva, Jõhvi and Kohtla-Järve, with further courses starting in Sillamäe, Tartu and Pärnu in October. Acceptance onto courses is based on order of registration. Groups are then determined according to place of residence, preferred language level and the time of the courses.
Free courses are planned to continue on a regular basis until 2020. The Integration Foundation will start organizing the next wave of courses later this month, which will see another 2,000 people get the chance to commence their studies in January next year. The foundation hopes to continue offering the courses in the same volume in the coming years to ensure that everyone who registered gets necessary tuition. Should further training venues and resources become available, registration will be re-opened.
Each course will last for 100 academic hours, with lessons taking place 2-3 times a week. Everyone who has registered – including those who have not yet been accepted onto a course – will be contacted by the Integration Foundation with information on other Estonian language training options, the organisation of the courses in the near future and further courses. Further information about A2, B1 and B2 language studies is also available from the Integration Foundation website.
Estonian language courses have so far been attended by around 11,000 public sector workers, including teachers, police officers, medical workers and librarians. University and vocational education students, third sector workers and people with limited sight and hearing have also participated in language studies. Organisation of the latest courses is being financed from the resources of the ‘Activities supporting integration in Estonian society’ project of the European Social Fund.
Editor: M. Oll