Estonian Language Studies
Estonian is the only official language of the Republic of Estonia. Although it is one of the smallest official national languages in the world, it is successfully used in all dimensions of society, including education, science, journalism, government business and the Internet. Although people in Estonia know and speak many other languages, a knowledge of Estonian will benefit any visitor who wants to learn more about Estonian culture.
The Estonian language has already been taught at the University of Tartu for more than 200 years. Preservation and development of Estonian as a language of higher education and research is crucial to its vitality, since it creates the necessary preconditions for the continuity and prosperity of our national culture. Needless to say, it also helps to maintain our contribution to cultural and linguistic diversity both in Europe and in the world.
It is highly encouraging that the recent years have witnessed a considerable rise in interest at foreign universities in teaching and learning the Estonian language. Knowledge of the Estonian language and culture helps Estonia's friends to understand our country better. Currently, the Estonian government pays the salaries of lecturers of Estonian at a number of foreign universities, including those of St. Petersburg, Vilnius, Göttingen, Paris, Warsaw, Glasgow, Lviv and others (full list of foreign universities where Estonian is taught).
The more there are those in the world who have learned Estonian and taken an interest in the culture and history of Estonia and its people, the more we can hope to attract foreign students to study at our universities. It stands to reason that the increased mobility of students will also result in increased international interest in Estonian language and culture. The University of Tartu offers Estonian language courses of various durations and levels, from a full-year preparation course to traditional four-hour-per-week courses of Estonian for international students that last one or two semesters.
Professor Birute Klaas, PhD in Philological Sciences