Eesti keele õppimine: Love, adventure and many more. My experience in learning the Estonian language

This blog post was written by our student ambassador Ana, a student of the semiotics programme at the University of Tartu.


Emakeelepäev or Mother Tongue Day is a national holiday of Estonia, celebrated on March 14th, which is also the birthday of Kristjan Jaak Peterson (1801-1822) a famous Estonian poet who strongly believed in the idea of Estonian national literature. 


kristjan jaak


In the spirit of the upcoming Emakeelepäev, I've decided to share my own story and experience in learning the Estonian language. It was full of twists and turns but in the end, I did it. I hope you enjoy my tale of conquering and taming the Finno-Ugric dragon.

When I first came to Estonia two and a half years ago, the only words I knew were tere (hello), aitäh (thank you), head aega (bye) and vabandust (sorry). Since I was a huge lover of Estonia (I still am to this day, of course), I realized that I needed to learn the native language.

And thus began my big challenge. 

When I first heard Estonians speak, it sounded to me like they were reciting a poem. It is such a beautiful and melodic language...which inspired me even more to learn it. First, I started learning it independently by watching YouTube videos about Estonian grammar and expressions and learning new words every day thanks to the online dictionary. Besides the courses and readings in my first semester, the Estonian language became my number one priority. 

In the second semester, I decided to take the Estonian language course number 1. By the beginning of that course, I already knew the present tense of all verbs, all the days of the week, all the numbers, food, animals, and other words that were too advanced for the beginner's course. 

Of course, I started showing off my knowledge of the Estonian language to other colleagues who didn't know anything. Luckily, I had and still have an amazing teacher who pointed out to me that I need to be more understanding about others who are just starting to learn the basics of the Estonian language. 

Thanks to the very useful, creative, and amazing methods of my level 1 course teacher, I was already able to use basic Estonian sentences for conversation. 




When I started level 2, the teacher emailed me that my Estonian language was too advanced for her course. She suggested that I transfer to the Estonian language course number 3. 

However, I wanted to be fair and take all the courses in the correct order. Plus my crush was attending that course, making it much more attractive.

I really considered myself royalty in terms of speaking and knowing the Estonian language...until I started attending Estonian course number 3. Everything changed for me on that course. The grammar structure became more complex, the words were harder to memorize, the teacher was strict, and I was completely lost. Scared and anxious that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the course, I stopped coming to the class and decided to learn Estonian by myself again. 

Still, I felt uneasy and irritated that I quit too soon, so I decided to retake the course next semester. And I have to admit, that was the best decision in my life. Thanks to that course and teacher, I finally conquered the fear and learned all the complex grammatical units.

Nüüd, kõik on selge! (Now, everything is clear!). 

I was a bit afraid that the Estonians would laugh at my bad Estonian accent, especially when talking to a native speaker. However, my teacher gave me confidence and taught me not to be afraid.

Currently, I am taking the Estonian course for pre-intermediate learners which is around B1 level, and I am proud to say that I use the Estonian language in my everyday communication, I read books in Estonian (I already read two of Lydia Koidula's poetry books and am currently reading Kristiina Ehin's poetry book), I listen to Estonian music, I watch Estonian movies and I even started to write poetry in the Estonian language. 


eesti raamatud


Through my experience, I realized that the Estonian language is beautiful and unique. And I truly encourage all the foreign students to learn it and experience its wonders. 

It may seem a bit tough at the beginning, but never give up, you can all do it! Plus, Estonians appreciate it when you make an effort to learn their native language. 

In the end, I would like to express my deepest gratitude and admiration to all the Estonian teachers who pass on and share the importance, richness, and beauty of the Estonian language with others. Suur aitäh, kõigile, (big thank you to everyone). 

I hope my story about Estonian language learning will inspire more of you to take this valuable step in your study in Estonia. Until then, ilusat emakeelpäeva ja elagu eesti keel! (Have a lovely Mother Tongue Day and long live the Estonian language!)


Find out which international degree programmes are available for you in Estonia. 


Check your knowledge of the Estonian language with our 'True or False' quiz to celebrate Mother Tongue Day (emakeelepäev)! 


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