How is it like to learn Estonian?

When I graduated from high school in June I immediately started learning Estonian with a free online programm called Keeleklikk. I was learning every day for one month until I spent in July my summer holidays in Croatia to celebrate my graduation and visit my family. Hence, I couldn’t study any Estonian during July. However, after attending the preparation seminar of my sending organisation “AWO Württemberg” in Stuttgart, a girl recommended me Speakly, a great app for learning Estonian. 

I regularly learned with that app until October. It was very helpful in terms of acquiring a vocabulary that is used in everyday life. However, learning the grammar is an essential part when you want to learn Estonian.

If you don’t know it yet: Estonian has 14 cases, no future tense and two different infinitives. In order to build the different cases you need to know three endings of every single word. Unfortunately, every word contains a different ending, which means that you have to take additional time to learn these three endings. 

This fact is mostly the reason why learning Estonian is for me personally a big challenge. Honestly, I would guess that I know about 2000 words, but that doesn’t mean anything when I don’t know how to build these words into a grammatically correct sentence.

Thus, I sometimes felt frustrated and desperate, because I couldn’t grasp certain grammar rules at first. And I also felt a bit lost and disorientated when I attended Estonian-speaking events because I thought I would understand already something when I didn’t understand anything.

However, these challenging situations never lead me to quit learning Estonian. During the first week in Tallinn I remember that Diana, my coordinator, told me to never give up studying a language. That it is worth to stick with the studying and that it is normal to have difficulties with it.

What also always helped me not to give up is watching Estonian TV and listening to Estonian music because I always appreciate the beautiful sound of the Estonian language. It’s the drive force to continue studying. Therefore it doesn’t even matter for me how many people speak the language. I don’t like when people tell me that Estonian is a useless language because it’s not true. Learning any language is always valuable. When you know a language you do understand the people and the culture of the nation on a completely different level. You can identify with the locals more easily and you become a part of the society more homogenically….

And after all these inner fight that you undergo during this journey it feels awesome when you for the first time managed to talk with an Estonian without switching to English. That happened to me two weeks ago when I attended the Noortebänd Finaalgala in Rock Cafe. I was talking to two girls about the different performance of the bands and which band were our favourite ones. I was super proud of myself. That was the first time were I was feeling confident enough to communicate in Estonian.

In the future I hope that I will encounter more of these incidents and soon be able to able to speak Estonian fully. By the way, I currently learn Estonian with an notebook called “E nagu Eesti” and my aim is to reach B2 by the end of my service.

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