Language Not the Holy Grail of Integration, Study Finds
A survey commissioned by the Integration and Migration Foundation concluded that the impact of language training - a major pillar of the government's integration strategy - is not as effective as hoped for advancing integration.
The partly EU-funded Estonian language programs have trained thousands and many participants give their praise, with 84 percent of respondents in the Saar Poll survey saying programs were effective and 86 percent saying that they were good or very good.
However, while participants said training made them feel more comfortable with Estonian and more competitive in Estonian society, many do not have an opportunity to use Estonian on a regular basis.
Knowledge of a language by itself does not increase social interaction in Estonian and consumption of Estonian media, a press release said.
"Language training on its own does not ensure that participants will be integrated in Estonian society, although it is an important factor. In the future we need to more closely analyze how much participants desire to use Estonian, to broaden their social circle, to be better informed about Estonian society through media, etc. We need more learning-related activities, language training in informal environments and interactive approaches,” said Eduard Odinets, head of the integration organization's lifelong learning department.