The Global School of the Association of Education in Estonian provides Estonian children living outside Estonia with the opportunity to take e-courses, and is in charge of developing e-basic school (lower-secondary education). The Association of Education in Estonian started the 9th graders’ course of Estonian language and literature with the help of the Expats Programme of The Ministry of Education and Research in the study year 2013/2014, with 12 participants from 6 countries. Conducting the piloting course and having feedback from parents assured that this is an option for maintaining and improving the command of Estonian language.
The work is done in HITSA (Information Technology Foundation for Education) moodle environment by months. It means students get their material and tasks at the beginning of each month and work at their own pace during this month. Tasks vary – each month curriculum-based courses have one of the following: an orthography task, a task based on the Estonian language coursebook, a task based on the Literature coursebook, a comprehensive reading task, a vocabulary task, a creative writing task. Apart from that, there are social activities, lanaguage games etc. This is a particularily good way to improve writing skills which are usually neglected in the location country. Courses in different subjects have been compiled having specifications of these subjects in mind. The curriculum-based courses in Estonian language, Literature and Maths also use textbooks. The students have permanent support by teachers and they get individual feedback on each task. In the study period 2016/2017, besides main activities, students are offered individual skype lessons twice a month. There are lots of ways how to compile study material and tasks, so that these would be diverse, interesting and link various subjects with existent virtual opportunities. No less important is the aim to improve students’ mutual communication and co-operation.
In the past years we have become sure that apart from supporting expats to return to Estonia, these course serve as maintainers of Estonian language for children living outside Estonia. A good command of mother tongue provides the child being brought up abroad with the opportunity to return to their homeland at some point, or while living abroad, to tie their work life with Estonia one way or another. Currently, there are quite a few Estonian schools across the world, yet, these are mostly primary schools, groups for older students are limited. As most Estonian schools work once or twice a month, it is not possible to go deeper in a subject.
The courses have had students from more than 20 countries. Finland boasts with the biggest number which is understandable, because it is the home to most Estonian children, and most probably, the majority of them will return to Estonian school, sooner or later. Another target group is the children whose parents have temporary work contracts abroad and who are due to go back to Estonia.
Given the chance, the Global Estonian School would like to support other Estonian schools across the world. The experience with Stockholm Estonian school is just the first step on this way – thanks to the history teacher, the students take part in the course of Estonian history. E-courses are a great opportunity for those who do not live in the vicinity of an Estonian school. Also, these courses could serve well children in Estonia who have been long ill.
We would like to thank Piret Kärtner and Järvi Lipasti for initiating the Global Estonian School, and Marge Pärnits for the name and the logo.
The Global Estonian School is supported by Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.