Estonian proficiency of diaspora children depends on family effort ({{commentsTotal}})

Children at the Lakewood Estonian School made their own "Sipsik" dolls. March 2016. Source: (Private collection)

The language proficiency of children growing up outside of Estonia depends in large part on efforts made by their families, agreed the more than 70 Estonian School teachers from around the world who recently met in Brussels.

More than 100 children of all ages attend the Estonian School of Belgium twice a month, where pupils learn through play and nobody receives bad grades. The goal of the school is to maintain the children's ties with their families' native Estonia by teaching them the Estonian language and culture, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

One student of the supplementary school, Säde, admitted that she has just one friend with whom she can speak in Estonian — Saskia, who is also her best friend.

"A lot of opportunities are created to preserve [the Estonian language], but it is not easy — one has to make an effort," said Annika Aas, a parent.

Katri Kuus, who teaches the Estonian language in Brussels, has observed that Õ and Ä sounds are the first to begin to disappear from the Estonian of diaspora children.

Difficulties in maintaining Estonian children's ties with the fatherland can vary somewhat from country to country, however one key issue that is universal across diaspora communities is the effort that must be put in by Estonian families.

More and more young Estonians who have lived abroad have ended up back in Estonia, however, and they have been assured that the Estonian school system eagerly awaits their return.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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