After a break from Estonian school classes, more than 40 students logged in this Tuesday evening and got right back into the swing of things. Some attending their very first virtual class and some having been attending for the last few years, each student had the opportunity to practice and enhance their Estonian language skills.
Marianne’s class which includes some of the youngest students in the school, began with learning how to read and pronounce words in Estonian. Vowel and consonant pronunciation can be confusing to learn in other languages but thankfully Estonian is as phonetic as it gets and everyone caught on quickly. Marianne listed out the vowels in Estonian along with some words to help remember how they’re said out loud.
A – arst (doctor), ahv (monkey)
E – Ema (mother), enne (before)
I – Isa (father), ilus (beautiful)
O – Onu (uncle), oks (branch)
U – uks (door), uus (new)
And then came the consonants.
Katre’s class learned about Hingedepäev (Known as All Souls’ Day and observed on November 2, a day of prayer and remembrance for the faithful departed) while refreshing their knowledge on käänamine (word cases). This involved a worksheet explaining what Hingedepäev is and filling in the blanks. Small hints like: Kes? (who?), Mis? (what?), and Kus? (where?) were given to help figure out the answers.
The Esto 101 class taught by Nicole includes students who are a little older than the other two classes but are taking on learning Estonian as a true second language. The class began by having each of the students introduce themselves and then ask questions to get to know their classmates better. Nicole taught various tutvumis küsimused (questions to get to know each other) and then students were choosing another classmate to ask and answer the following questions:
Mis on sinu nimi? (What is your name?)
Kui vana sina oled? (How old are you?)
After this activity they learned some new vocabulary, mostly nouns, along with how to categorize them. Koolijuhata (Kes? Who?), Leib (Mis? What?), Lähen kooli homme (Millal? When?), and jalgpall (Mis? What?) are just a few examples of how the students expanded their sõnavara (vocabulary).
Reading and writing get more intensive as the classes go on, with Erika’s class writing a small story about their perekond (family). The students were asked to describe how many people are in their family, who they are, how old they are, and whether or not they have any pets. Each student then practiced their reading and pronunciation, sharing each of their stories out loud with the class. What a wonderful way to start the year and get to know your classmates better!
Last but certainly not least was Kai’s class, being taught entirely in Estonian. Kai asked the students how they celebrated mardipäev (Halloween), and whether they have any kommid (candy) leftover. This really helped the students to flex their language muscles and carry on an entire conversation solely in Estonian. Then, after giving an assignment on writing about their isa (father), vanaisa (grandfather), or ristiisa (Godfather), Kai also gave the students a tool from the Eesti Keele Instituut called Sõnaveeb which is basically like Google but for any Estonian word. All you have to do is type in any word you want and it provides an extensive amount of information including (but not limited to) a definition, pronunciations, the word translated into other languages, conjugated in different ways, and even example sentences with how the word can be used. You can check it out and try it for yourself here! https://sonaveeb.ee/?lang=et