Starting from next year, we will be asking our customers to pay attention to forthcoming changes in the organisation of our language courses. The changes concern the duration of the courses, continuing the courses, as well as the number of student places.
Changes implemented as of next year concern the levels and volumes of Estonian language courses. What will change exactly? Who made the decisions? Do they only concern courses organised by the Integration Foundation?
The Integration Foundation has good news for language learners. As of next year, the Foundation will pay more attention to achieving level B1 in Estonian. This means that the Foundation will begin to prioritise courses which help learners achieve this level. As a result, the volumes of communication courses will change. To ensure the quality of Estonian language studies, the Integration Foundation wishes to improve the language skills of its students by changing the levels and volumes of its communication courses, thus equipping its students with better coping skills in society and at workplaces. Due to changes in the volumes of Estonian language courses, the study periods will be extended. Starting from January 2024, the volume of Estonian language courses from level A1 to level B1 will be 500 academic hours. The volumes of instructed studies per language level are as follows:
Level A1: 100 academic hours
Level A2: 150 academic hours
Level B1 will be split into two courses: level B1.1 with 120 academic hours and B1.2 with 130 academic hours.
The increased course volumes of adaptation and integration courses correspond to the European Language Portfolio as well as the Adaptation Programme regulation. It is necessary to make changes in the courses because the Integration Foundation wishes to provide its learners with the best language acquisition quality in terms of volume, content, as well as results. The Integration Foundation has spent a long time analysing and discussing the issue and will now proceed with implementation.
What is the purpose of the changes?
The changes mean longer courses for the current learners and more efficient language studies for new learners. The addition of an Estonian language course at level B1.2 is necessary to provide successful students with the opportunity to acquire more proficient Estonian language skills at level B1. The new complementary level B1.1 language course will allow learners to acquire language even better, improving their ability to cope in society and offering significant support to participating in society actively and to integration more generally. Another reason for changing the volumes of language courses is to allow learners to transition more smoothly between courses, regardless of their status.
How does the change impact those who wish to acquire Estonian language at either level B2 or C1?
The learners who wish to develop their Estonian language skills at levels B2 and C1 can do it on special courses offered by the Estonian Language Houses. For advanced learners, we will continue to offer the opportunity to take part in language and culture clubs, language cafés facilitating language practice, and other learning programmes that offer good opportunities for learners to improve and develop their language skills.
When new courses open, they get fully booked very quickly. How will the longer course period and the additional B1.2 language course influence the number of student places? Will there be less places at other language levels, for example?
Although the longer duration of courses and the addition of new language levels may influence the distribution of student places, we aim to have a place for everyone. Learners at levels B2 and C1 can take part in special courses offered by the Estonian Language Houses, which open up new opportunities to advanced learners for developing specific language skills.
With the help of the European Social Fund, we are also launching a secondment programme for public sector employees for the purpose of language learning, in which people with a different language and cultural background can gain Estonian language practice among Estonian-speaking personnel. The target group of secondments includes educational workers, including kindergarten as well as school teachers, and employees in the areas of social services and internal security. Secondment for the purpose of language practice is available for those who already have sufficient Estonian language skills to manage working at an Estonian-speaking organisation.
How will the activity of language cafés and clubs continue? Will they carry on same as ever or will there also be planned changes?
Next year, we plan to continue with our popular activities that support language acquisition – the Estonian language cafés (30 academic hours) and the Estonian language and culture clubs (120 academic hours).
Language cafés offer support for Estonian language learning and practice prior to joining a course or for consolidating knowledge while waiting for the next course. In a language café, the learner will gain knowledge on 20 different topics and will additionally acquire skills for independent learning via the e-courses Keeleklikk and Keeletee. In language cafés, the learner can communicate on day-to-day issues and learn in a freer atmosphere with fellow students under the guidance of a teacher. Learners can join language cafés once their language skills are at least at level A2.
The Estonian language and culture club encourages and inspires learners to speak freely in Estonian and continue their language studies. The club meetings held once per month are complemented with activities introducing Estonian culture, such as educational trips and workshops at museums and exhibitions in different cities. Learners can join Estonian language and culture clubs once they have completed a language course at least at level B1.
How can interested people sign up for a language course?
It is possible to register to Estonian language communication courses at levels A1, A2, and B1 (B1.1, B1.2) in the self-service of the Integration Foundation. When compiling our language learning groups, we first offer student places to continuing students who have successfully completed a course, and then, students who have undergone a counselling session based on a general waiting list can register to the remaining places in the self-service, if places are available. A consultant will help you choose the most suitable form of study (café, course, club, special course, educational programme, or another activity supporting language learning). Our consultants will analyse the language learning needs and experience of each person individually and offer a suitable language learning solution.