Teaching Estonian as a second language
In the field of teaching Estonian as a second language, Estonian language classes were launched for children aged 3–5, who go to nursery schools where Estonian is not the language of instruction.
The transition of upper secondary schools with languages of instruction other than Estonian to Estonian-language study will also continue (during the 2008/2009 academic year, these schools chose whether to start teaching music or social studies in Estonian, and in the 2009/2010 academic year they will begin Estonian-language instruction in the other subject, depending on their choice for the previous year).
Ongoing projects include the organization of competitions in the field of Estonian as a second language, and extra-curricular language study programmes, including language camps and family learning as well as teaching programmes in museums. Common principles are applied in the preparation of final basic school examinations in Estonian as a second language and foreign languages. In addition, the Ministry is engaging in cooperation with the National Examinations and Qualifications Centre with the aim of developing examination procedures and preparing examination papers. The language proficiency levels stipulated in the European framework document of language study will serve as a basis for teaching and learning Estonian as a second language and assessing the study results. Continuing education courses will be conducted for language teachers and organizers of examinations in connection with the transition to the new system. Several further training programmes have been launched for the purpose of supporting the teaching of the Estonian language. Moreover, these programmes support the instruction in Estonian at different levels of education in schools whose language of instruction is not Estonian. The focus of the programmes has been on the integrated teaching of Estonian language and specialty subjects.
In order to prepare for the transition of institutions of vocational education to partial Estonian language instruction, the ESF programme is supporting the compilation of study materials for Estonian language and specialty language study as well as continuing education of teachers and heads of schools.
Efforts are made to achieve the goals of adult language study by using traditional forms of study as well as the individualization of studies and use of mentors. At the same time it is emphasised that the interests of the learners as well as their available time and the manner of study that suits them should be taken into account. The organization of labour exchange missions as a means of language study will be continued. Within the scope of the ESF programme, Development of Language Study 2007–2010, support is provided for the in-service teacher training of adults in the field of integrated teaching of Estonian language and specialty subjects. Support is also granted to learners and adults in acquiring Estonian language skills in order to create equal study opportunities for everybody and enable learners to cope on the Estonian labour market.