Global Estonian | The role of the Global School in developing the Estonian language skills and identity of children
Üleilmakooli eesti keele õpetaja Krista Arro
Üleilmakooli eesti keele õpetaja Krista Arro

The role of the Global School in developing the Estonian language skills and identity of children

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Krista Arro, the graduate student of Tallinn University and Estonian teacher at the Global School, conducted a survey on the Global School, looking at the impact of the school on the development of the students’ Estonian language skills and the formation of their identity.

The estimated number of Estonians living abroad is nearly 200 000. Following the restoration of Estonia’s independence, most of the people who have left have been active working age people, including a significant number of families with children. They maintain close links with their native land and, circumstances permitting, many of them are prepared to return to Estonia. 82% of expats who speak Estonian to their children would like their children to have a good or very good command of Estonian.

Children of Estonian origin living abroad are usually multilingual and that is no cause for apprehension. On the contrary – multilingualism is part of a normal and educated society and is a great asset for the child. Multilingual children usually learn to read more quickly and they find it easier to learn new languages. These children are more self-assured, they have better cognitive skills and they are quicker to adapt to changing circumstances. Multilingualism and a greater sensitivity to culture is an advantage in today’s global world when applying for a place at university or a job.

The attitude of the parents in preserving Estonian language abroad is critical: if there is a wish to preserve the native language of parents and pass it on to the next generations, the parents must make choices and take concrete steps to control the language environment at home. If possible, they should continue speaking Estonian even if their children switch to the dominant language of the society in their interactions at home. This way, the children will retain at least a passive command of the language, which can be developed in later life, making their return to Estonia easier. However, the precondition for written language skills and a large vocabulary is professional language learning, offered by nearly 150 teaching locations abroad, mainly at Estonian schools, associations, Sunday schools and youth clubs, as well as European schools and general education schools in Finland, Sweden, Brussels and other locations. The Estonian state is supporting the teaching of Estonian language and culture through the Ministry of Education and Research.

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e-Learning is an alternative offered to families who live further away from Estonian communities abroad and cannot attend classes in person. The Global School stands out among other providers of digital Estonian language learning with its systematic programme based on the national curriculum of Estonia. Krista Arro’s study showed that attending the Global School contributed to a greater sense of belonging and encouraged the use of Estonian language.

The advantages and strengths of the Global School highlighted in the study included an individual approach in organisational matters, a flexible schedule and the possibility of learning for free online, regardless of geographical location and time zone. Qualified teachers from Estonia, the option of individual lessons, a child-friendly feedback without grading, the programme based on the national curriculum, and high-level and fascinating study materials that contribute to learning written Estonian and grammar were also noted positively. When it came to meeting expectations, respondents felt it important to note that they are studying at the same level as their peers in Estonia, which has subsequently allowed them to make a seamless transition to studying in Estonia. They also said they were happy that students can manage their studies independently and they continue to take joy in studying.

Read the full text of the survey here (in Estonian)

e-School Global School

-             Established in 2013  after the model of Finland’s remote learning school Kulkuri. The school initially started with an online Estonian language and literature class for 12 nine-year students from six countries.

-             In the 2022/2023 academic year, the online courses of the Global School had 330 students from 35 countries.

-             The students are aged 5–20. In general, they continue their studies over several years and also take classes on Estonian nature, history and other subjects.

-             The Global School offers a systematic and structured learning programme based on the Estonian national curriculum for the lower secondary school with high-quality and contemporary study materials that ensure a high level of teaching. Those wishing to return to Estonia can attend special classes to help them continue their studies in Estonia.

-             The activities of the Global School are supported by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

-             e-Learning offers 35 free courses: easier courses following the Estonian language and literature curriculum and focused on language; a course on expressive Estonian; Estonian as a foreign language for primary school pupils; A1–A2 level Estonian language courses for upper secondary school students; a preparatory course for the national Estonian language exam and B2 language level; courses on Estonian history; a course on social studies; courses on natural history, Estonian nature and Estonian geography; a preparatory course for the lower secondary level the mathematics exam and courses on mathematical terms. More information:

-             Studies take place from 15 September to 15 May, mainly on the Moodle platform of the Ministry of Education and Research and the Opiq digital textbooks platform, and they are divided into month-long study periods. It is possible to join the courses in the middle of the academic year.

-             Online courses provide an alternative to in-person learning at the time and location suitable for the student, regardless of geographic location and time zone.

-             Lessons are conducted by 17 qualified teachers from Estonia.

-             The teachers provide child-friendly feedback based on the formative assessment method and a certificate is issued to the student on the successful completion of a course.

-             It is possible to arrange individual or small group lessons supervised by a teacher. The study shows that the courses provide great support for younger learners, people returning to Estonia and people preparing for exams.



Veebilehte haldab Integratsiooni Sihtasutus.
Sihtasutuse asutaja on Eesti Vabariik, kelle nimel teostab asutajaõigusi Kultuuriministeerium.