Kristi Henno

RECORDING: Inclusive language policy and Estonian language learning are discussed and the university’s language award is presented on Mother Tongue Day

On 14 March at 13:00, all university members and language lovers are welcome to celebrate Estonia’s Mother Tongue Day in the university assembly hall. Presentations are made by Birute Klaas-Lang, Professor of Estonian as Foreign Language; Kerttu Rozenvalde, Research Fellow in Language Policy; and Tomáš Pavelka, programme director of the master’s curriculum “Wellness and Spa Service Design and Management”. The rector presents the University of Tartu language award to Virve-Anneli Vihman and her team. Watch the event live or view the recording on UTTV.

This year’s Mother Tongue Day focuses on Estonian language learning. Birute Klaas-Lang and Kerttu Rozenvalde make a presentation “How to achieve an inclusive language policy at the University of Tartu?” discussing the survey conducted at the university on the implementation of the language and internationalisation principles of the University of Tartu and the language attitudes of academic staff. “With these principles, the University of Tartu has set the goal to ensure the sustainability of the Estonian language while at the same time guaranteeing the inclusion of foreign-language-speaking staff in the university’s activities. Our study shows that the words in the vision document alone are not enough, and there is a need for investment in linguistic technology and Estonian language teaching, as well as activities that support using and valuing Estonian as the common language of communication,” said Klaas-Lang and Rozenvalde.

Tomáš Pavelka in his presentation “õäöü vs žščřďťň”  speaks about his studies, the Estonian language, Estonians and life in general. “I think that Estonian is quite a learnable language. Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. Sometimes very simple words slip my mind, for example, pintsel,” said Pavelka.

Following each presentation, the audience can ask questions onsite or using Slido (code 1771996). All international staff and students are most welcome: machine-translated subtitles will be provided for all presentations in Estonian.

After the presentations, the rector will present the University of Tartu language award for 2022 and congratulate the recipients. The award is granted for teaching Estonian to Ukrainian war refugees with the help of volunteers. The University of Tartu linguists developed an Estonian language learning programme that meets Ukrainians’ needs. Student volunteers helped Ukrainian children learn Estonian and adapt to school, and also taught adults. The particular value of the programme designed for Ukrainians lies in the possibility of using it as a model for bringing learners and teachers together in similar situations.

The recipients are Associate Professor of Psycholinguistics Virve-Anneli Vihman and her team: Kairi Põldsaar, Senior Specialist in Geology, Programme Director for Geology and Environmental Technology; Mare Kitsnik, Associate Professor of Estonian as Foreign Language; Ada Urm, Junior Lecturer in Developmental and School Psychology; Denys Teptiuk, Research Fellow in Mordvin Languages, and Anna Branets, Senior Specialist for International Marketing, a doctoral student in Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics.

On Mother Tongue Day, it is also possible to take part in several events that are held in Estonian. On 14 March at 10:25, Vikerraadio’s e-dictation begins. Note that it is possible to practise for it already. At 11, the conference “Tunnete keel ja tehnoloogia” (The language of feelings and technology) starts at the Estonian National Library. At 16, the language deeds of the year 2022 are announced at the Ministry of Education and Research. At 19, Mari Jürjens and Tõnis Mägi sing and speak in our beautiful language at the Estonian National Museum, accompanied by guitarists Ain Agan and Andre Maaker.

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