An initiative in Pärnu County saw Estonian families involved in a language exchange, where children learning Estonian as a second tongue got the change to practice with native speakers in their host families, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Monday.
A total of 26 Estonian-speaking families hosted 36 children from Ida-Viru County, most of whose major towns are predominantly Russian-speaking, AK reported. The language camp lasts 10 days.
One such host, Kristel Teearu, told AK about Ženja, a boy who came to live in Estonia relatively recently.
"Ženja has only lived in Estonia for a little while, a little over a year, but he shows great effort and a desire to learn Estonian. only in Estonian in the family. Plus his parents have put him into a language program, and that's how he came to our family," Teeru said.
"Every day we write down new words in a notebook, and still try to speak only Estonian," she added.
Ženja, who had moved from Russia, listed some of the words he had so far learned.
Another attendee, Jaroslava, had been able to visit the island of Kihnu, which is in Pärnu County and lies due south of the mainland, in the course of her studies.
"Kihnu Island is very unique, Kihnu women wear körts," she said, referring to the distinctive dress of that island.
"I really like both the Estonian language and Kihnu," she added.
Host Kai told AK that: "She has done very well, Jaroslava is very friendly, very caring, and she is very interested in the Estonian language and Estonian affairs."
Another participant, Jana, told AK that her host family had taken her to an Alpaca farm, a minizoo, Pärnu Museum and a nature park.
Jana Tondi, head of language studies at the Integration Foundation (Integratsiooni Sihtasutus), which organizes the initiative, told AK that:"For the first time in a while, the integration camp has returned to Pärnu again. Families are paid at a different rate, depending on the type of project; this time the amount is €350-€500," she said.
Marina Kopajev, project leader, said that: "We have had children who say that these 10 days have given them more than the preceding school year."
On Monday, the children were treated to some traditional Estonian food at the Maarja-Magdaleena Gild, an arts and crafts center in Pärnu town.
Editor: Andrew Whyte