Tallinn Estonian language house has opened

Today, the Integration Foundation has opened the long-awaited Tallinn Estonian language house, were people of various backgrounds with different native languages can learn and practice Estonian as well as receive practical advice about living, learning and working in Estonia.

The opening ceremony of the Estonian language house, which has started its work on Rävala Boulevard in Tallinn, featured the ringing of the First Bell, a tongue twister competition, guided tours and inspiring speeches. Various activities to support the Estonian language learning will be going on in the new building starting next week.

The Minister of Culture Indrek Saar, who took the floor as the patron of the opening speeches and the tongue twister competition in Tallinn Estonian language house said, “Every person who speaks Estonian is important and valuable as someone to pass on our culture. The community of people who speak our beautiful language does not necessarily have to be restricted to the ones living in Estonia. The goal has to be larger, and why not make what Mart Meri, a member of the board of the Estonian Institute, once said our next major goal: a dream of increasing the number of Estonian speakers in the world to at least 1.5 million,” minister Saar noted.

Head of the Integration Foundation Irene Käosaar said that the Estonian language house welcomes people with any other native languages regardless of their ethnicity or the Estonian language skills who would like to learn, practice or just listen to the Estonian language and faster adapt to living here. “The Estonian language house is a place where one can receive advice, support and language practice, which is the basis for people of various ethnic backgrounds and native language in finding a common language and mentality,” Käosaar noted.

“We would also like to provide a new level of the Estonian language acquisition quality in the language house we are opening today: to broaden the scope of learning methods and practice options. In addition, we will be counselling those who need it for better coping with daily life, for example, starting one’s own business or getting a doctor’s appointment. At the same time, the Estonian language house does not intend to limit its operation to the spaces we have opened today: we will gladly go out to various locations of the country,” Käosaar added.

Olga Selištševa, the head of Tallinn Estonian language house, pointed out that its functions will certainly not be limited to those of a place for formal language instruction; it is to become a cosy place for getting together. “A major share of people who have relocated to Estonia have a passive language command, and our goal is to provide them with as many opportunities for practicing Estonian as possible. We intend to organise language cafés, tandem learning and other events for faster and more intensive development of language skills,” Olga Selištševa said. “We also welcome Estonian native speakers who would like to learn some other language through tandem learning,” she added.

The participants to put their Estonian language skills to the test in the tongue twister competition held during the opening ceremony were telecom operator Mustafa Çelik, comedian Stewart Johnson and start-up owner Evgenia Trofimova. They competed in speed-reading complicated Estonian elocution exercises and reciting the most beautiful words. The patron of the competition Indrek Saar acknowledged the participants’ courage and competitive spirit and noted that anyone could master the language if there is a will, initiative and also versatile opportunities for language acquisition. It is understanding one another which is important and not how fast you speak.”

Tallinn Estonian language house will be providing a variety of language learning opportunities: language courses at different levels, tandem learning with Estonian native speakers, participation in language cafés, digital learning and practical language in the form of meetings of the Estonian language club or café. Those looking for advice will be able to request assistance in filling out documents, finding information or communicating with government agencies.

Tallinn Estonian language house located on the 6th floor of the building at 5 Rävala Boulevard is open to visitors on business days from 9:00 to 16:00. Anyone interested can contact the organisation by writing an e-mail to eestikeelemaja@integratsioon.ee or calling 6599 022.

In addition to the one in Tallinn, there are plans to open new offices of the Estonian language house in Narva at 2 Linda Street. Estonian language houses are established by the Integration Foundation, and their operation is financed by the European Social Fund and the Ministry of Culture.

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Further information:

Irene Käosaar
Head of the Integration Foundation
Tel.: 5662 9091