Estonia to increase amount of Estonian language in schools

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Centre of the city of Narva, located in the far east of Estonia next to the Russian border. You won't find much Estonian language here.

This piece of news is from September 1st:

Estonia to teach more Estonian

Estonian schools have expanded the number of courses that must be taught in the country’s national language in an effort to revitalize the language and give minority students more opportunities.

The move means that all schools nationwide – including those that cater specifically to native Russian speakers – will have to include Estonian-language courses in both Estonian literature and either music or civic studies.

Under the program, all Russian-language schools will have to teach at least 60 percent of their courses in Estonian from the 10th grade onwards starting from the academic year 2011/2012.
On the surface it looks fine to increase the amount of content in the official language of a country but I know zilch about the real situation in Russian-language schools in Estonia so I wouldn't presume to write any more on the subject.

Quale tu pensas, Anvarzhon? E danko pro la mesajo che Facebook ye mea nasko-dio.

I think a quote from this BBC article last year sums up the situation quite well though:
"If I had the time, I would go off to a village for six months and learn the language, but I have to work so..."

Yevgeny Ashikhmin, Narva correspondent for Estonia's leading Russian-language newspaper Molodyozh Estonii, can get by with a smattering of the national language.

More than that he does not really need because Russian is still the lingua franca of Narva, the country's third city, perched on the border with Russia and geographically closer to St Petersburg than Tallinn.
Almost nobody is ever opposed to the idea of just knowing another language; everybody knows that it would be that much better to speak another one, but a lot of people like the one above just don't have the opportunity. Since it's the government's policy to not give citizenship to people that don't speak the language, there should also be a great deal of support to make it as easy as possible, which would include either free classes in the Russian-speaking area in the east and/or some sort of free or nearly free program involving visiting other parts of the country in the west to get some practice. The article mentions the following along those lines:
Apart from trying to persuade more language teachers to move to the eastern region, which the aides suggest is a struggle, there will be an internet-driven campaign next year to encourage Russian-speakers to take holidays in the south of Estonia and the islands to mix with local people.
Since that's from 2007, it's now next year. Did that campaign happen?


Barcodex said...

Well, here am I. My comment would not be greatly knowledgeable, because I finished my own studies in school in 1992, well before "estonization" of Russian secondary education, and I still don't have my own children to see the difference. All I know is based on what my friends (and my former teachers) tell me.

As for moving more Estonian teachers to the east, this definitely does not work. The opposite process (forcing Russian teachers out of schools in that region) however, goes full speed. Since the Law of Language sets high requirements to management of the schools, lot of great Russian school managers were replaced by Estonians, who try to reform schools by Estonian standard. As a consequence, the old working schemas are banned, and new schemas don't work because of menthality gap, and schools are degrading.

The only good Russian schools that keep their level are doing this because of great enthusiasm of old teaching staff. When they retire, I expect even more degradation. I put my hopes on private funding of Russian schools. When I will have my children, I won't put them to Estonian school (if I will still have a choice)

As for new school programs, I am supporting new subjects as Estonian literature and music/arts taught in Estonian, as it would help Russian pupils to learn Estonian culture. Other subjects should be taught in the language of teacher. I can't really stand when Russian teacher with great experience in his subject is forced out of school because he does not know Estonian language enough to teach his subject to Russian students in Estonian (why should he?)

  © Blogger templates Newspaper by 2008

Back to TOP