Denis | Resident of Narva

piltI never got very far with Estonian at school or when I went to vocational school because at the time I simply wasn’t motivated enough to learn it. But when I wanted to enrol in a youth work course at Narva College a few years later it finally dawned on me how important Estonian was if I really wanted to make a life for myself here in the country. That was enough of an incentive for me to overcome the language barrier and slowly but surely carry on with my Estonian where I’d left off, studying it on my own.

Then I heard that there were these language cafés where you could work on your spoken Estonian, so I started looking for information about them. The first time I came across the format was at the Vitatiim careers centre in 2012, where a student from Narva College had volunteered to run a language café. I really enjoyed it. I kept going to it for about a year and a half, until the person organising it left.

A couple of years ago I discovered another place that was hosting similar language cafés in Estonian, organised by some really nice people – the Counselling Centre of the Integration Foundation in Narva. At first the cafés were run by Natalja, but she soon passed the baton on to Irina.

I go along every time knowing that the other people there will help me with what they know and that I’ll do the same for them. Even if I don’t make huge strides in my language skills, the café will certainly help me maintain the level of Estonian I’ve already reached.

To my mind, in some ways the cafés are an even more effective way of learning than ordinary language courses.