Skip to content
Search for information, services, etc.

Tallinn supports third graders in preparing for transition to Estonian-language education

Tallinn supports third graders in preparing for transition to Estonian-language education

In light of the upcoming shift to Estonian-language education for fourth graders starting September 1, the City of Tallinn is supporting additional activities that schools are conducting to prepare third graders. Fifteen schools have applied for project funding, involving over 1,000 children in these activities so far.

Deputy Mayor Andrei Kante highlighted the city’s commitment to ensuring that all students, regardless of their mother tongue, have access to high-quality education in Estonian. "The city has developed an action plan which actively facilitates a smooth transition to Estonian-language instruction. Support for language learning and integration is provided for both teachers and students," Kante explained.

The city has introduced a measure to create additional language learning opportunities for third-grade students at schools transitioning to Estonian-language instruction. The goal is to enhance the readiness of students with other home languages to begin learning in Estonian from September 1, 2024. Transitioning schools could apply for city funds for Estonian-language activities, clubs, and study aids, and to form groups for subjects taught in Estonian. Applications were received from 15 schools where activities have already been underway for a month.

"A sudden shift to learning in Estonian can be very challenging for children not accustomed to it, and without proper preparation, many could struggle academically. Simultaneously, they must acquire a new language, which is no small feat," said Kante. "We aim to prevent situations where a lack of language comprehension impacts students’ learning, which is why we are currently providing support to schools to prepare students by enhancing their Estonian language skills. It’s encouraging that most transitioning schools have seized this opportunity."

The initiatives and instruction in schools are carried out by qualified teachers and activity leaders whose first language is Estonian or who meet the language proficiency requirements.

Some schools have divided third graders into groups based on language proficiency for teaching subjects like mathematics and science in Estonian, or have two teachers in the classroom. Others organize post-school Estonian-language thematic clubs, such as "Modern Estonian Music," where children sing, play, and meet well-known singers; "Wonderful Nature" or "Me and the Environment," focusing on local fauna and flora during outdoor education; and "Estonian Sports Life," where they meet famous athletes. There are also integrated lessons of music and Estonian language, covering topics like "Music Comes from Playing Instruments." Project-based activities include adventures like "The Adventures of the Naksitralls in Estonia."

Similar activities will continue until June, with some schools planning Estonian language camps in June.

For 2024, the city budget allocates €8.8 million for activities related to the transition to Estonian as the language of instruction, including nearly €113,500 for supporting third graders' language learning in the first half of the year.