Information about Estonian language courses and language and culture clubs
Language cafés provide tips for independent language learning
Makeover planned for 15th Citizen’s Day Quiz
National minority culture association events
“I Am a Migrant” – fascinating real-life stories of people who live in Estonia
Free Estonian language courses organised by MISA to continue in 2017
The Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) is set to continue offering free Estonian language courses at the A2, B1 and B2 levels in 2017 in association with five organisations providing language-learning services: OÜ Multilingua Keelekeskus, MTÜ Folkuniversitetet Estonia, OÜ Keelepisik, OÜ Mitteldorf and MTÜ Atlasnet. The courses will be held in various towns and cities around Estonia: Tallinn, Narva, Jõhvi, Kohtla-Järve, Sillamäe, Ahtme, Tartu and Pärnu.
Assisted by its partners, MISA will be providing all of those who informed the foundation in summer 2015 of their wish to study Estonian with the chance to take part in language classes in 2017. “Little by little, with the help of our partners, we’ve contacted everyone in regard to level testing and participation in the courses,” said Jana Tondi, the Head of Language and Cultural Immersion with MISA. “We’ll be offering free courses by this summer at the latest to those who registered for the studies in 2015 but who need training at the A1 level.” The state has allocated 66,000 euros for language studies at the A1 level for a total of 190 people.
By the end of 2016 more than 2500 people had taken part in the free language courses organised by MISA. Studies are ongoing for 900 people and a further 1620 will be given the chance to commence studies in the course of 2017.
Each course is preceded by level testing to ascertain the participants’ skills, after which study groups can be formed according to the levels determined. Invitations to attend the level testing are issued by the companies providing the language courses, contacting the participants by e-mail or telephone based on the list of names forwarded to them by MISA. Should any of those registered decline to take part in the courses or pull out at a later date, their place can only be offered to the next person or people on the list.
“In order to give everyone on our waiting list the chance to take part in courses by this summer, we’re unfortunately unable to extend invitations to anyone who’s not already on the list,” Tondi explained. “Although those who aren’t can rest assured that our free courses will continue. Registration for future courses will be public, and we’ll be informing people about it via our website, our newsletter and the media.”
The Estonian language courses offered by MISA last for 120 academic hours, with a maximum of 15 people in each group. The courses generally last for five months. MISA is organising Estonian language courses at the A2, B1 and B2 levels until 2020 via the resources of the ‘Activities supporting integration in Estonian society’ project of the European Social Fund. Further information about the Estonian language courses offered by the foundation can be found on the MISA website.
Estonian language and culture clubs to continue in 2017
The free clubs that offer participants the chance to brush up on their Estonian language and culture are set to continue this year. Helping MISA organise the club meetings are Mitteldorf OÜ, Keelepisik OÜ, ImmiSchool - Uusimmigrantide Koolituskeskus OÜ and Change Partners OÜ.
“The language and culture clubs are somewhere people can come to practise their Estonian in speaking and listening terms through a range of interesting activities related to culture and our everyday lives,” explained Jana Tondi, the Head of Language and Cultural Immersion with MISA. “They’re also a great way of gaining the encouragement you need to keep practising the language and the information you need to study independently. The clubs don’t offer lessons or courses as such - they simply allow people to come together in a group to practise everyday communication and find themselves a support network. Their activities also include cultural events, which the participants attend together to give some context to what they’ve learnt.”
30 clubs had been opened around Estonia by the end of 2016, with a total of 480 members. The clubs will continue to operate with the same numbers in 2017, and each year thereafter until 2020.
The members of the clubs, including the people running them, get together for a maximum of four academic hours at a time at least once a week over a period of six consecutive months. Meetings must be held at least four times a month, and at least once a month the group attends a cultural event together or visits a site that is linked to Estonian culture. A total of at least 24 get-togethers (96 academic hours) and six excursions take place. Each club has two group leaders and 16 members from different private and professional backgrounds. Estonian native speakers, or guest speakers whose Estonian skills are at least at the C1 level, are invited to attend meetings by the group leaders. Every member of the club has the right to invite up to two guests to attend a meeting with them.
The linguistic and cultural immersion clubs are designed for anyone whose mother tongue is a language other than Estonian and who want to learn more about what makes Estonian culture unique or who need support and encouragement to continue learning Estonian. People who speak Estonian as their mother tongue and who wish to assist the language learners are included in the work of the clubs. Members are invited to and selected for the clubs from the list of those registered for Estonian studies at the B2 level as part of the ‘Integration training’ activity of the ‘Activities supporting integration in Estonian society’ project of the European Social Fund or from among those who have completed a B2 course commissioned by MISA.
For further information please contact: Jana Tondi | Head of Language and Cultural Immersion, MISA | Telephone: +372 659 9069 | E-mail: [email protected]
Independent language learning with the help of language cafés
Last autumn MISA launched a pilot programme for counselling on independent studies of Estonian in order to make counselling on Estonian language studies generally more effective.
“We offer counseling meant for people’s independent studies of Estonian mainly at language cafés, which are designed to encourage people to communicate in the language. The format of the cafés means that those who aren’t able to take part in language courses are also able to pick up the language. The cafés provide an Estonian-language environment that encourages people to practise their Estonian. We also introduce the attendees to ways of independently studying the language, while building up their belief in their abilities and encouraging them to overcome the barriers that come with studying ,” explained Olga Žukova, a counsellor with MISA.
Žukova added that MISA will be organising information days in 2017 focussing on Estonian language-learning options, as well as training days for anyone interested in the methodology of counselling on independent Estonian studies so as to broaden options for the implementation of the methodology.
“The information and training days will be held all over Estonia, with anyone wishing to attend them needing to register in advance,” she said. Information on the events and registration will be provided in the MISA newsletter and also appear on the foundation’s website. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
MISA organises the language café get-togethers as part of the ‘Activities supporting integration in Estonian society’ project of the European Social Fund.
Information about the language cafés is available by calling the free information line 800 9999 or e-mailing [email protected].
Citizen’s Day Quiz
The Citizen’s Day Quiz, which is being organised for the 15th time this year by the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA), will take place in November. In order to assess feedback from previous quizzes regarding the quality of the questions, the level of interest among students and the involvement of civic studies teachers, a seminar and discussion has been planned about the quiz. A total of 50 students and teachers from all over Estonia are expected to attend the event.
“The quiz has a remarkable history, and those who’ve organised and taken part in it have plenty of experience to share,” said Toivo Sikk, the Head of Civic Education with MISA. “In order for us to make the quiz an interesting, topical and interactive tool in civic education we’ve invited 50 students and teachers from general and vocational schools to give us their feedback and opinions on how to make the quiz even better.”
The seminar and discussion will be held at the Park Inn by Radisson Meriton Conference & Spa Hotel in Tallinn on 16 February 2017. Presentations will be given by one student and one teacher from general and vocational education schools, while the creation of the content of the quiz will be outlined by the main compiler of its questions, Tõnisson Institute Civic Education Centre director and Loksa Upper Secondary School social studies teacher Sulev Valdmaa.
The presentations will be followed by an exchange of ideas and discussions in eight groups looking at new areas for questions for the quiz and at providing visual materials for the questions. The participants will also be discussing their attitudes to Googling and how to get new schools (and students who have not taken an active role to date) involved in the quiz.
The ideas generated in the course of the discussions will be taken into consideration in compiling this year’s quiz. The 2017 Citizen’s Day Quiz – the 15th in the series – will be held from 20-29 November.
Over the years, the quiz has been successfully completed by more than 66,000 students. Previous quizzes and results can be found on the MISA website. The organisation of the Citizen’s Day Quiz is financed from the state budget via the Ministry of Education and Research.
For further information please contact: Toivo Sikk | Head of Civic Education | Telephone: +372 659 9850 | E-mail: [email protected]
Project application competition for family-based language and culture studies now open
The aim of this competition is to make young people living in Estonia who are aged 7-19 and whose mother tongue is a language other than Estonian more familiar with Estonian cultural space – the country itself, its history, its culture and its language – and to offer the youngsters the opportunity to form contacts with people of the same age who speak Estonian as their mother tongue. Via the competition MISA hopes to find partners to organise family-based Estonian language and culture studies for the young people during the period from 1 March-30 November 2017.
The total budget for the project competition is 45,000 euros. The deadline for the submission of applications is 20 February 2017.
The documents and application forms for the competition are available on the MISA website.
The organisation of Estonian-language studies in families is financed from the state budget by the Ministry of Culture.
For further information please contact: Jana Tondi | Head of Language and Cultural Immersion, MISA | Telephone: +372 659 9069 | E-mail: [email protected]
Russian poetry festival to be held for fifth time in February
The Russian poetry festival ‘Under the Baltic Sun’ is to be held for fifth time in February, organised by the Russian national culture organisation and literature club Harmoonia. The festival will take place in the small hall of the Russian Cultural Centre in Tallinn from 14:00-17:00 on 11 February. Admission is free of charge.
The Harmoonia literature club is represented by Tatjana Treufeldt, Igor Krainii and Sergei Udod, who will be presenting their poetry at the festival. Guest speakers and performers from 14 countries (including Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Norway and the United States) have been invited to attend the event.
Also taking part will be the winners of the ‘Under the Baltic Sun’ competition, while other poets will have the chance to recite their poems during an open mike session.
For further information please contact: Zhanna Zaikina | Member of the Management Board, Russian national culture organisation and literature club Harmoonia | Mobile: +372 55 36 577
‘Nupukesed’ song studio concert “Let’s sing for mum!” to be held in early March
Mothers and grandmothers everywhere are invited to the small hall of the Russian Cultural Centre in Tallinn at 16:00 on 5 March 2017 for a concert of the ‘Nupukesed’ children’s song studio entitled “Let’s sing for mum!”.
The studio is attended by 70 children between the ages of 3 and 16 who not only learn how to sing, but are also taught dance and other performance skills.
The concert has been structured as a performance in which all of the children from the studio will sing and dance at the same time.
Admission is free of charge for children and school students. Adults can purchase tickets at the box office of the Russian Cultural Centre starting from one hour before the concert. Tickets cost €2 for adults and €1 for university students and pensioners.
You can find out more about the activities of the ‘Nupukesed’ studio online at www.knopochki.ee.
For further information please contact: Marina Krants | Director, ‘Nupukesed’ children’s song studio | E-mail: [email protected] | Mobile: +372 5698 8787
‘My theatre – my caprice’ amateur theatre festival to be held in Maardu
The international amateur theatre festival ‘My theatre – my caprice’ is set to be held for the 9th time in Maardu from 10-12 March 2017.
Children’s performances will take place from 09:00 on 10 March at the Vaba Aja Keskus recreational centre (Keemikute 12B).
Theatre-goers of all ages are invited to attend the performances starting at 11:00 on 11 and 12 March at Maardu Cultural and Information Centre (Karjääri 4). Admission is free of charge.
The festival is designed to give young directors and producers the chance to demonstrate their passion for theatre. It is important that the performers adhere to the definition of ‘open theatre’, which aims to actively involve the audience. After each performance there will be a discussion between the actors, directors, producers and audience, where in the friendly festival atmosphere there will be an exchange of opinions and impressions on what they have seen and experienced.
Since the festival has proven a success, the organisers have decided to continue the tradition. The festival is organised by MTÜ Art Arena, MTÜ Teater-stuudio Veer & Špaga and Teater WIN.
For further information please contact: Eseniya Antropova | Director, MTÜ Teater-stuudio Veer & Špaga | Mobile: +372 5812 2942 | E-mail: [email protected]
The activities of national minority cultural associations are funded from the state budget via the Ministry of Culture.
For further information please contact: Kristina Pirgop | Head of Partnership Relations, MISA | Telephone: +372 659 9024 | E-mail: [email protected]
“Language plays a very important role” – Xiangwei’s story
Xiangwei is from one of the biggest city of China with population of eight million people. He has lived in Estonia already 22 years.
“While I was in China I didn’t know anything about Estonia, I had heard very little about it. All three Baltic States were mixed up in my mind; I knew that they are located near Russian Federation and are former Soviet Union countries.
I was a very active person as a student in China and I didn’t like when there were too much control over the society. I participated in Beijing demonstration, but unfortunately freedom never came to China and also the Soviet Union collapsed.
At university western philosophy was very popular. I came to Estonia in 1994, I was working as a Translator (I was studying Russian language at university) in a Chinese company. I came to Estonia because here there’s economic freedom and many possibilities for personal development.
Estonia is a very good country. Estonian people are peaceful. During the 22 years that I’ve lived here I never had any serious conflict. Local people talk to me in English, however language plays very important role. It wasn’t possible to understand what is going on in the society and in politics if you don’t understand Estonian language.
I was searching for different possibilities of learning, I took the language course but it wasn’t enough. I think that reading is the best way to learn a language. I visited libraries and borrowed big English-Estonian dictionaries. After a while I started to understand the grammar too, how to build the sentences, that knowledge helped me a lot. Then I started watching TV. When you don’t know the language, TV is not just entertainment, it is the way of learning.
I also took a bookkeeping course in Estonian language and I had to pass an exam, that wasn’t possible to pass without understanding of Estonian language. Then I met one person who has a Gymnasium for adults and I decided to join. The Director of the Gymnasium couldn’t believe that a person with higher education is willing to go back to school. So I studied one year and finished 12th grade in Estonian. I was looking for free language learning possibility and I found it.
My wife is Estonian, we met at Concordia University, where we were both students. I always tell our children that they are Estonians, they live here. They talk to their mother in Estonian. They know Chinese only a little, as they don’t use it and there is no motivation to learn it. As I work a lot, there is no time for me to talk to them in Chinese nor to teach them. However, we went to China together, they were exploring the culture and visiting relatives, so the connection with China still exists.”