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NOVEMBER 2015
11.11.2015

Estonian language and culture clubs to launch activities in December
First cross-media hackathon and audio-visual media development seminar to be held in Mektory in November
Integration Foundation to organise in-service training for national minority Sunday school teachers
Project camps help lower language barrier for Russian-speaking youngsters
Students from Armenian Sunday school inspired by study trip for new school year



Estonian language and culture clubs to launch activities in December

Starting in December, the Integration and Migration Foundation will be organising language and cultural immersion in a club format for long-terms residents of Estonia who speak a language other than Estonian as their mother tongue and whose integration to date has been limited. The language and culture clubs are designed primarily for those who speak Estonian at the B1 level as a minimum and who wish to improve or maintain their conversational language skills.

“The clubs are meant for people whose mother tongue is a language other than Estonian, who want to learn more about what makes Estonian culture unique and who need practical support and encouragement to speak Estonian,” explained Jana Tondi, the director of language and cultural immersion with the Integration Foundation. “Native speakers of Estonian will be involved in the get-togethers and be able to help the language-learners as part of a number of activities on different topics, building up their vocabulary with common words and expressions.” The club meetings will also give participants the chance to practise speaking, listening and writing through interesting and topical issues linked to culture. “They won’t be language lessons as such, but focus on communication,” said Tondi. “We’ll be discussing actual issues in society, and visiting and sharing information about cultural events. We won’t just be meeting in a ‘classroom’ setting, but also going out and experiencing things first hand.”

Membership of the club will first be offered to those who applied for Estonian courses at the B2 level via the Integration Foundation’s website in summer. Joining the club will be voluntary for everyone involved.

Each club will have 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, will be invited to take part in events. The members and leaders will get together at least once a week over a six-month period and take part in one special event or excursion each month.

“Offers can be submitted to us until mid-November to find club leaders and for organising activities all over the country,” Tondi explained. “You’ll find information about the procurement on the Integration Foundation website. We’re looking to make a start on initial activities, like information days and introductory events for those interested in organising the clubs, before the year’s out.” Club leaders, like their members, will post about their get-togethers in a blog, with one new entry for each event. 

The activities of the ‘Language and cultural immersion’ sub-programme of the ‘Activities supporting integration in Estonian society’ project are financed from the resources of the European Social Fund. The activities of the language and culture clubs are being financed to a value of 300,000 euros in 2015 and 2016.

For further information please contact:
Jana Tondi | Director of Language and Cultural Immersion, Integration Foundation | Telephone: +372 659 9069 | E-mail: jana.tondi@meis.ee.


First cross-media hackathon and audio-visual media development seminar to be held in Mektory in November

The Mektory innovation centre in Tallinn will be hosting a cross-media seminar commissioned by the Integration and Migration Foundation and organised by ETV+ from 13-15 November. The seminar aims to come up with new ideas for the development of audio-visual media programmes.

The foundation’s media director Natalja Kitam says that the seminar has been designed to find new media formats that speak to a Russian-language audience and also interest Estonian speakers. “The event’s open to anyone interested, from individuals to public and private broadcasters,” she explained. “The only criteria are that they have an interest in the media and would like to contribute to introducing new, modern media products to the market that speak to people and that foster a more tolerant and cohesive society.”

The seminar will be opened at 15:00 on 13 November. The first day will focus on mapping ideas and dividing the attendees up into teams. A total of 12-15 teams will be formed on the basis of the ideas presented. The groups will then have until almost midnight to shape and hone their ideas. The first full day of the seminar will start at 9:00 and also run through until late in the evening, with interim summaries being made, mentors being involved and pilot projects being compiled. The final day will likewise start at 9:00, with plans for the audio-visual programmes being outlined. Activities will then continue in groups as they put together their final presentations. The ideas showcase will start at 18:00 and will be broadcast live on the ETV+ website, culminating in the announcement of the overall winners. The seminar programme is available online at www.multipulti.ee.

The winner of the cross-media marathon will receive 25,000 euros with which to implement their idea and the chance to broadcast it on the new television channel ETV+. Special awards will also be presented which will enable the recipients to develop their ideas in cooperation with the national broadcasters of Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Helping the teams at the event will be professionals in the field from Estonia, Sweden and Germany, with ideas being assessed by an expert jury. A total of 200 people will be able to take part in the marathon.

The three-day seminar is being financed via the ‘Activities supporting integration in Estonian society’ project of the European Social Fund with the aim of acquiring practical input for the promotion of issues within the field on integration via the opportunities presented by audio-visual media.

For further information please contact:
Natalja Kitam | Director of Media, Integration Foundation | Telephone: +372 659 9061 | E-mail: natalja.kitam@meis.ee.


Integration Foundation to organise in-service training for national minority Sunday school teachers

The Integration Foundation will be organising in-service training for national minority Sunday school teachers on 21 & 22 November. The participants will learn what a modern teacher who supports children is like, and the implementation of child-centred and subject-centred methodology in teaching work will also be discussed.

According to Kersti Türk, who will be carrying out the training, the archetypal approach means that children living in a particular era have teachers who support their development and potential. “During the training we’ll be looking at whether teachers are guiding and helping the children of our time as effectively and as expressively as they can, and if so, what these teachers are like,” she explained.

Türk says the participants will get to experience a range of creative, inclusive and experiential methodologies that support self-reflection and help teachers implement in their own work what they learn on the course. “We’ll also be looking at motivation to learn and the factors that influence it,” she added. “For example, we want the teachers to find out how they can motivate students to attend Sunday school and to make use of that experience in their day-to-day lives.”

The in-service training, which is being organised by the Integration and Migration Foundation, is being conducted by Kersti Türk, who has worked as both a teacher and a social pedagogue and who has been the director of Tartu Private School and the Village School of Inventors. She has also published two books for teachers with Mari-Mall Feldschmidt: Arenguvestlused koolis /Appraisals in schools/ and Õhinapõhine kool /Making schools exciting/. She studied what it takes to become a supportive teacher on a training course in the United States in autumn 2013.

In addition to the event in November the Integration Foundation is organising a further two in-service training courses for Sunday school teachers this year, with the next scheduled for 5 & 6 December. The participants will be introduced to the practices of the European language map and taught to make use of theatrical elements to enliven language lessons.  The course will be given by Evelin Müüripeal and Leili Sägi.

The training course is open to teachers from national minority Sunday schools who are – or wish to become – partners to the Integration Foundation. Invitations to participate will be issued by the foundation personally.

The teaching activities of Sunday schools are financed from the state budget via the Ministry of Education and Research.

For further information please contact:
Kristina Pirgop | Director of Partnership Relations, Integration Foundation | Telephone: +372 659 9024 | E-mail: kristina.pirgop@meis.ee;
Kersti Türk | Teacher and social pedagogue | E-mail: kersti@pfe.ee.


Project camps help lower language barrier for Russian-speaking youngsters

The Integration and Migration Foundation has supported a number of Estonian language and culture camps for youngsters aged 7-19 this year. For example, students at Saverna Basic School in Põlva County met students from Narva Language Lyceum, while students from Narva Estonian Gymnasium and Narva School no. 6 made friends with students from Sõmerpalu Basic School in Võru County.

A joint project camp was held in August involving three schools. Entitled ‘On the paths of culture in Põlva County’, the camp was designed to offer Narva-based youngsters who speak Russian as their mother tongue the chance to practise their Estonian in an everyday environment. In addition to learning the language, the students were also hoping to make friends with Estonian-speaking peers and find out more about local culture – which they did by visiting interesting and historical sites in Põlva County. 

A truly authentic Estonian cultural experience was had by 27 students aged 11 and 12 from Narva Language Lyceum when they travelled to the south of the country to join nine Estonian-speaking youngsters on an excursion around Tartu and Põlva County. Camp leader and Estonian language teacher Maret Annuk says that what the students liked most of all was the excursions they went on. “They learned about local history and the old way of life here as part of an orienteering game at the Põlva County Farm Museum, found out what life was like on estates by visiting Pikajärve Manor and, since it was Music Year, they were also taken to Tartu’s Song Festival Museum to explore the history of the song festival,” she explained. “They really enjoyed the contests we had each night, too, where they practised teamwork, and the traditional ‘Relvovision’ song contest, which got its name from the place they stayed. There was a dance contest as well, and a camp fashion show, all of which were great fun.”

Another camp – this one entitled ‘Learning with friends’ – was held in October and saw 12 Russian-speaking students from Grade 4 at Narva Language Lyceum spending five days in Võsu with 10 support students from Grades 6 & 7 at Sõmerpalu Basic School in Võru County.

Camp leader and economics teacher Tatiana Kupratsevich says the youngsters were very much looking forward to their autumn trip, since the camps are always fun and give them plenty to talk about for weeks and even months afterwards. “In putting the programme for the camp together we focussed on making sure that the kids would get to speak to each other as much as possible in Estonian,” she explained. “The tasks we set for them were set up in such a way that the Russian-speaking kids would want or need to speak Estonian, either to get help or ask for information. It’s simple conversations like this that often lead to the kids chatting together for much longer and that generates mutual interest.” Kupratsevich says there was also a full schedule of free-time activities. “The kids filled in descriptive forms about each other, came up with some great posters about Estonian towns, held a football match and organised an autumn picnic, complete with barbecue, at which they munched on sausages and sang and danced together.”

Estonian language and culture camps are financed by the Integration Foundation from the state budget via the Ministry of Culture.

For further information please contact:
Jana Tondi | Director of Language and Cultural Immersion, Integration Foundation | Telephone: +372 659 9069 | E-mail: jana.tondi@meis.ee.


Students from Armenian Sunday school inspired by study trip for new school year

This July, seven students from the Maštots Armenian Sunday school visited their homeland with their teacher to pit their knowledge of Armenian culture, language and history against that of other Armenian youngsters living outside of the country. School director and teacher Džanna Šahbazjan, who has been the head of the Sunday school for eight years, shared her thoughts on the trip.

The Ministry of Education of Armenia organises a language, culture and religion Olympiad for young people with Armenian roots living outside of the country every two years. The Sunday school teacher says that youngsters from all over the world gathered in Armenia once again this year and spent a week together in the beautiful Aghveran region. In addition to Estonia, Sunday schools from Spain, Russia, France, Georgia, Iran and other countries were represented. A total of 60 students between the ages of 14 and 18 took part.

The first time that students from the Maštots Sunday school competed in the Olympiad in Armenia was in 2009. Their teacher says it is good to see that taking part has been such a positive experience for them and that it has increased their interest in learning their native tongue and culture enormously. The students who attended the event in August looked forward to the start of the new academic year, as it meant they would be able to continue studying their language and culture. “This time our kids focussed solely on the history part of the competition,” Šahbazjan explained. “They made it all the way to the final, where they had to answer questions verbally, in Armenian. We’ve set ourselves the goal of taking part in the culture and language competitions as well further down the line.”

Šahbazjan says the participants were inspired by one member of the jury in particular – Artak Movsisjan, a professor from the Armenian State University and the author of a textbook designed for use in Sunday schools in other countries which Maštots itself utilises in its lessons. “There were also exciting excursions for the students where the guides were members of the jury, and quizzes where the teams were made up of kids from different countries,” she added. “Everyone had to put together a photographic exhibition showcasing their country and where they live, too.”

The youngsters were able to take part in a number of workshops on Armenian culture in which they learned folk dances and traditional songs and poetry. The dance workshop was led by Gagik Ginosjan, the great champion of Armenian folk dancing. A student of Ginosjan’s will be giving lessons in Tartu this autumn. “There was a song and poetry competition at the Olympiad as well, and our students won three prizes,” Šahbazjan said. “It was a big thing for us to present the final song at the gala concert, which saw everyone in the audience singing along.”

The director of the Armenian Sunday school says it is important that the children got to talk to one another a great deal on the trip and made many new friends they have continued to correspond with since the Olympiad. “Thanks to these burgeoning friendships the kids have shown even more of an interest in upholding the culture and traditions of their forefathers,” she said.

Information about the Maštots Armenian Sunday school is available by e-mailing mastotsh@gmail.com or calling +372 5330 0425.

The teaching activities of Sunday schools are financed from the state budget via the Ministry of Education and Research.

For further information please contact:
Kristina Pirgop | Director of Partnership Relations, Integration Foundation | Telephone: +372 659 9024 | E-mail: kristina.pirgop@meis.ee;
Džanna Šahbazjan | Director, Maštots Armenian Sunday school | Mobile: +372 5330 0425 | E-mail: mastotsh@gmail.com.