Teacher shortage holding back Estonian language learning

Estonian dictionaries on a library shelf.
Estonian dictionaries on a library shelf. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Interest in learning the Estonian language has significantly increased over the last year but would-be students are hindered by a shortage of teachers.

The increase has been brought on by the transition to Estonian language education, which requires teachers to know the language at C2 level, Ukrainian refugees, and foreign students and workers from other parts of the world.

The majority of people seeking to learn in Ida-Viru County are locals, Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

The majority of students are women over the age of 40 who want to improve their Estonian for work. There are new elementary and advanced groups.

"There is no hiding the fact that the transition to Estonian-language education will affect their progress in one way or another. A lot of teachers come in who previously had a certificate, but they have not had to or have not been able to practice Estonian. Or those whose level is not high enough, but who now need to reach the same level," said Margarita Källo, head of the Estonian Language House (Eesti keele maja) in Tallinn.

While, in Tallinn, learners come from around the world.

"There are more likely to be younger men who have come to Estonia through work and who need to learn from A1 to B1 level, because they are usually working in an English-speaking environment and need this language level to renew their documents and residence permits," said Källo.

Approximately 2,500 students study languages at the Multilingua language school every year. But this year, the school has reached this number just with learners of Estonian.

A large part of the new cohort is made up of Ukrainian refugees as the school won a teaching procurement.

"There are a lot of groups. Every month we open groups on a rolling basis, currently, we have 50 groups open at a time and they all learn 100 hours of basic Estonian," said Estonian language methodologist Ly Leedu.

As Estonia is suffering from a teacher shortage at all levels, it is hard to accommodate all the students who want to learn Estonian.

Now, teachers who usually teach other languages are also training to teach Estonian. AK said Dutch, Swedish and Greek teachers are now standing in front of the blackboards.

Dutch language teacher Hello Upan said teaching a native language is easier but requires a change of mindset.

Teaching is made more difficult by the fact that Estonian is the first foreign language many refugees have ever tried to learn and they do so out of necessity. Students' age ranges span 18 to 80.

"During this course, they have often developed an interest in the language and they are very interested in other cultural events, and customs," Upan said.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: