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The teachers of Russian-speaking groups in vocational schools consider the study of Estonian important


Today in Tallinn, the results of a survey conducted among the Russian-speaking groups, teachers and heads of vocational schools were presented, and it reveals that more than 80 per cent of teachers and heads of schools with a first language other than Estonian consider learning Estonian important.

The survey “Implementing studying in Estonian in Russian-speaking groups of vocational secondary education”, commissioned by the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA), revealed that nearly two thirds of heads of schools estimate that the teachers of specialisation modules and general subjects take a significant or relatively significant interest in learning Estonian. All Ida-Virumaa county’s heads of schools who took part in the survey plan to organise additional Estonian language classes for teachers whose first language is not Estonian.

“The teachers who did not consider teaching in Estonian important mainly argued that the learning of the subject should not suffer due to insufficient language skills. Students are worried about how they can cope and those who took part in the survey admitted that it is difficult to learn subjects without sufficient Estonian skills,” Jana Tondi, Head of MISA’s Lifelong Learning Unit, noted.

According to the survey, only 27 per cent of students thought it was important to teach general subjects in Estonian, and 35 per cent of students thought specialised modules should be taught in Estonian. More students of service study programme groups thought teaching specialised modules in Estonian is important than students of other study programme groups.

The survey showed that two thirds of heads of schools consider it necessary to teach specialised modules in Estonian, but in the case of general subjects, this opinion is held by only half. More than a third of teachers think that subjects and modules should be taught in Estonian. The teachers from Tallinn who took part in the survey were more in favour of teaching in Estonian than their colleagues in Ida-Virumaa.

According to the teachers surveyed, teaching in Estonian in Russian-speaking groups would require developing Estonian vocational language and terminology, organising Estonian classes to improve the language skills of Russian-speaking students, providing the educational institution with various Estonian teaching and additional materials, stocking the libraries with Estonian literature, organising additional training related to bilingual teaching and ensuring an environment that would encourage the implementation of teaching in Estonian on the level of the state as well as local municipality and within the educational institutions.

Tondi assured that the fears of teachers, students and schools are understood and, therefore, several supporting activities are offered. “Over the years, MISA has offered additional language classes and training for heads of schools, teachers and students. In supporting the language studies of vocational school students, we have also encouraged the use of various methods of active learning in addition to learning in a classroom – for example, we have organised study trips, co-operated with other schools, taken part in internship programmes and visited businesses that work in a similar field,” Tondi said.

MISA has also compiled various teaching materials to support vocational education, such as the Estonian, Russian and English website that brings together the e-curriculum. The portal assembles learning materials and links to e-courses, relates news and encourages the creation and functioning of a teachers’ network. The target group of the website are the teachers and students of vocational schools as well as foreign language teachers, students, universities, employers, specialised unions and others.

According to Tondi, the vocational schools have unfortunately not been active enough in using the opportunities offered by the state. “The satisfaction level of all teachers and students who participated in activities has been very high, but we continue to call on the teachers and heads of vocational schools to be more active in taking the opportunities offered to them and enrich teaching. Good Estonian skills are necessary for competitiveness and coping both in professional as well as everyday life,” Tondi added.

In September, students, teachers and heads of vocational schools were surveyed in eleven vocational schools in Tallinn and Ida-Virumaa. The survey looked into the attitudes of the parties and their readiness to switch to teaching in Estonian, and also mapped the impediments that the vocational schools see in their processes of transition to teaching in Estonian.

The preparations of the survey were made with the participation of the Ministry of Education and Research. The survey was commissioned by the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) within the framework of the project Language Learning Developing Programme 2011-2013, funded by the European Social Fund. The survey was conducted by OÜ Saar Poll. The results of the survey are available on MISA’s website

For additional information, please contact:
Jana Tondi
Integration and Migration Foundation Our People
Head of the Lifelong Learning Unit
Phone 6599 069