Non-native speaker Estonian language skills improving, work still needed ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Culture minister Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa).
Culture minister Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government has approved an annual report which includes claims that the command of the Estonian language is improving among non-native speakers, though work still needs to be done, including with students who recently completed lower secondary school studies, as well as among vocational school students.

The report, entitled "Integrating Estonia 2020", was approved at a government sitting on Thursday, BNS says.

"Significant improvements have been made, yet a lot of work remains to be done," said culture minister Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa).

"I am pleased to see that the command of the Estonian language is improving and that the options for language learning are getting more numerous. Without language proficiency, society cannot develop a shared set of values. Integration is a continuous long-term process, but everyone here must be able to speak Estonian," Lukas noted.

The report added that the language issue went beyond school students. Adult language learning, language centers had been established in Narva and Tallinn, and language teaching has also become more interactive thanks to the availability of online or other tech solutions, it noted.

In general, the public's self-reported command of the Estonian language had also made gains, the report said.

Additionally, the inclusion of public broadcaster ERR's Russian-language ETV+ on the free-to-air network covering the whole country had bolstered the channel's ratings among Russian-speaking viewers.

The coherence of society and labor market discrepancies had also seen improvement through 2018, as had residents' attitudes towards newer immigrants, the report said, though the share of non-ethnic Estonians in public service remained modest, it added. 

The main objective of the development plan is to foster social cohesion and to strive towards a society where people with different mother tongues and cultural backgrounds enjoy shared democratic values and are able to actively take part in social life, according to BNS.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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