“Estonian language learning for third-country nationals” impact study

The integration of third-country nationals living in Estonia has been an essential objective of Estonia’s policy agenda. This is illustrated by the fact that integration surveys have been carried out for more than 20 years. From these and other studies, it has remained clear that insufficient knowledge of the Estonian language is one of the main barriers to integration. This is why the Estonian language training of third-country nationals has been heavily invested in through the Estonian state budget and international projects. However, language learning must first and foremost be based on the needs of the target group, which have been studied in several previous studies and the results of which have been taken into account in the development of Estonian language learning.

One such study on language learning is the “Estonian language learning for third-country nationals” survey conducted by the Institute of Baltic Studies in 2020, in which the readiness and needs of the target group for language learning were assessed. It was found that respondents were most often motivated by the desire to develop their Estonian language skills, to better cope with their daily life in Estonia and to understand Estonian culture and traditions better. Language skills and learning were considered necessary because of work or studies. However, obstacles to language learning were most often considered to be a lack of practical experience and time and financial resources. The survey brought together good language learning practices and linked them to respondents’ language learning needs. The survey was used as input for the new language learning project “Estonian language learning for third-country nationals”: Integration Foundation (INSA) will offer Estonian language courses at the B1 level to 500 third-country nationals in 2021-2022.

Accordingly, this study aims to analyse the effectiveness of the language learning offered, and the more specific objectives are as follows:

  1. To find out the satisfaction of the target group with the language learning offered and the factors related to it (including the learning methodology, the places and times of the courses, the teachers and the duration of the studies), as well as the reasons for discontinuing the studies.
  2. To analyse the impact of the implemented measure on the participants’ language skills, taking into account the possible impact of COVID-19.
  3. To analyse the impact of the implemented measure on the networking and integration of participants in Estonian society, including examining the effectiveness of study visits during language learning.
  4. To identify the target group’s previous language learning experience and the primary sources of information on B1 level courses.
  5. To find out the participants’ plans for learning Estonian, living in Estonia and obtaining Estonian citizenship.

The study combines quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis methods. A survey and focus group interviews will be conducted among language learners.