FAQ: possibilities and organization of Estonian language learning

Renee Altrov

Which language learning opportunities does the Integration Foundation offer? 

We offer Estonian language courses for adults (starting from the age of 18) at levels A1, A2, and B1. The Estonian language courses are provided by the Estonian Language Houses and the partners of the Integration Foundation, i.e. language schools. 

Starting from January 2024, the total volume of Estonian language courses from level A1 to level B1 will be 500 academic hours. The supervised course loads per language levels are as follows: level A1 – 100 academic hours, level A2 – 150 academic hours, level B1 is divided into two levels – level B1.1 is 120 academic hours and level B1.2 is 130 academic hours. Registering for a language course implies an obligation to attend the lessons and study. Independent work by the learner, be it homework or additional language learning through Keeleklikk or Keeletee, helps to improve the language learning outcome. 

The increase in the number of language courses is in line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, including with the statutes of the adaptation programme. The need for changes to the courses stems from the desire of the foundation to ensure that the best possible language learning is available to learners, in terms of content, volume, as well as results. 

Namely, the inclusion of an Estonian language course at level B1.2 has been important for successful graduates of courses at levels B1 and B1.1, as it offers the opportunity to acquire knowledge at level B1 in depth. An additional Estonian language course at level B1.2 will enable learners to further improve their language skills. It is therefore an important step for successful learners on their language learning journey, which, in turn, enhances their coping in society and is an important support for their active participation in society and integration in general. Changes in the volumes of language courses are also linked to ensuring that learners can move from one language course to another more easily, regardless of their status, if it changes. 

Who can register for an Estonian language course?

The free Estonian language courses are intended for adults living in Estonia who have an Estonian personal identification code. Priority will be given to those wishing to continue, i.e. to those who have successfully completed the previous course, followed by those who have completed the counselling in general order, and whose data is available and correct in the self-service. The customer service representatives of the foundation will make offers based on the conditions described above. Each language learner must independently confirm their acceptance of the offer for the course in the self-service after receiving the offer. If an offer for a course is not confirmed within the required time frame, it will expire and the next applicant will be offered a place. 

When and how can I register for a language course?

You can generally register for free Estonian language courses at levels A1, A2, and B1.1–B1.2 as well as special courses twice a year (in January and August) in the self-service of the Integration Foundation. There is no fixed date and time, as new services for learning are being designed on an ongoing basis and the range of services available in the self-service portal is constantly increasing. Any places left unfilled by the offers (the so-called ‘free student places’ in the group) will be made public at the latest one week before the start of the language course via the self-service environment of the foundation and the language learner will need to register for a suitable course themselves. We therefore recommend that you check out the new opportunities at the self-service environment from time to time or get information from the consulting centre and follow our social media posts on Facebook, where we occasionally share information about various language learning opportunities. To register, please log in to the self-service environment of the Integration Foundation. We do not normally open new services for registration in July. 

What should I do if I cannot attend a course I signed up for? 

A language learner can withdraw from and cancel a course up to one day before the course starts. This way, someone else can still register for the vacant place – either independently or with the help of a customer service representative. 

Where can I find information about courses that are starting soon?

This information is available via the services search under the ‘My Services’ tab in the self-service. When you click on a course, the schedule of the course, a short description along with the name of the teacher and the language school, and the email address of the teacher will be displayed. Ask for detailed information about the contents of a course from the teacher of the course, whose contact details are provided by the content description of the specific course in the self-service portal. 

How do I search for a language course in the self-service? Language courses and special courses can be selected in the self-service by the month that they start (e.g. from 1 January or 1 August), their language level, and their location. 

What should I do if I cannot attend a course I signed up for? 

A language learner can withdraw from and cancel a course up to one day before the course starts. This way, someone else can still register for the vacant place – either independently or with the help of a customer service representative. 

What kinds of other Estonian language learning opportunities does the Integration Foundation offer?

In addition to language courses, we offer a variety of activities to support language learning, such as special courses, language practice, language clubs and cafés, educational programmes, and field trips to learn and practise Estonian. 

The special courses support language learning at levels A1–B1 and more information on them can be found in the short course descriptions in the self-service

Language cafés are designed for Estonian language learners at level A2 and up. The cafés offer support for learning and practising Estonian before starting a language course or for consolidating your knowledge after you have completed it. The meetings give you the chance to communicate with your peers on everyday topics in a more relaxed environment. We plan to open new cafés in the second half of the year at the latest. 

Language and culture clubs are open to learners of Estonian who speak it at level B1, B2, or C1. The club encourages people to speak Estonian freely and to continue learning, as the meetings offer not only language learning, but also practice in a language environment, including through joint activities such as workshops or field trips. We plan to open new clubs in the second half of the year. 

Educational programmes are also suitable for language learning, as they provide opportunities to practise listening, speaking, and reading in depth, and to acquire knowledge about Estonia’s cultural diversity (e.g. art, architecture, nature, society, history, language, culture). You can register for educational programmes via the self-service starting from February. 

Independent study materials are available for language learners on the website of the foundation, including, for example, the e-course of Estonian at https://www.keeleklikk.ee/

Where can I find more information on activities that support language learning?

Information is available on the calendar on the website of the foundation and registration you can register for activities via the self-service environment

We also organise and direct people to Estonian language courses meant specifically for people who are applying for Estonian citizenship (the duration of the courses differs from regular courses (total volume 500 academic hours)), newly arrived immigrants (temporary protection beneficiaries in Estonia, people who have been granted international protection and foreigners residing in Estonia based on regular migration). 

Why does the Integration Foundation no longer have public registration? 

We want to offer every language learner the learning opportunities that suit their needs, and direct them to the language course that is right for them. To do this, we ask learners to undergo a free consultation, as our consultants are best equipped to assess each person’s language learning needs and recommend the most suitable language learning solution for each individual. If there are places available, people who have completed the counselling will be directed to the registration environment in the self-service or at settleinestonia.ee, where they can independently choose the time and place that suits them and register for the language course. The language learner then communicates with the teacher, who supports them on their language learning journey. 

To register for a consultation, please contact us by email at [email protected] or via the free phone line 800 9999. The consultation is free of charge. 

The self-service portal is accessible for everyone around the clock. There, you can explore various options for learning Estonian independently, at a relaxed pace, and at a fitting time for you, register for a suitable service (such as a course, language practice, a study trip, a café, a club, etc.) and study group, or add your name to a waiting list of a service and keep track of your studies. 

Why have these changes been made? With the consultations and the self-service portal, we want to ensure the better availability of services to various target groups, including to simplify learning the language for our clients, and increase the quality of language training. Through these changes, we are offering a suitable study format on the necessary level based on the needs and proficiency of the learners. 

If you have not attended a consultation yet, we highly recommend you do that. To register for a consultation, please contact us by email at [email protected] or via the free phone line 800 9999. The consultation is free of charge.