The world around me becomes more understandable
The second year of the project “Living in Latvia – learning the Latvian language” has come to an end. We are looking back at the results and summarizing what we have achieved during 26 months.
We ourselves have learnt a lot but even more we have taught to others – during the project our teachers have had three thousand lessons with more than 400 third country nationals. All in all, we have organized 25 groups of learning the Latvian language. More than 70 % of the course participants who have started attending the courses and learning the Latvian language also finish their learning, i.e., 330 participants in 2 years’ time (440 participants have started learning in EDC groups)
80% of those, who have completed learning, apply for passing the Latvian language evaluation examination in the National Centre for Education and receive there a certificate about the level of the state language proficiency. Thanks to our diligent course participants and the professional teachers, more than 90 % of the participants have passed the state language examination. It has to be mentioned that approximately a half of the course participants, who started attending the 120 hours programme and learning as beginners, have mastered the Latvian language and have received the certificate proving that they have achieved A2 level. The success is based on the teachers’ work that is rooted in the group participants’ needs, their ability to accept and work with a diverse audience, the ability to teach the language applying interactive methods and to teach it with motivation and joy. Therefore a great thank you goes to EDC teachers - Elga, Ināra, Ērika, Maija, Liene and Sandra, as well as the pedagogical leader of the project Aija Kalve. Each person starting the learning in the group is different not only as the user of the language but also with the personal life experience, learning skills, views, character, the level of education, religion that often differs from what we encounter in the society of Latvia. This has to be considered when teaching the Latvian language to third country nationals. The teacher of the Latvian must become the “key” in the interaction with the surrounding world and life, with people around them and the services that are needed to live here in Latvia.
Certainly, during the project we have also faced difficulties and challenges. Firstly, it is clear that the demand for the courses surpasses the offer. Thus, our project cannot ensure these courses to all the people who would like to learn. Secondly, many course participants have expressed their wish to continue the acquisition of the Latvian language on a higher level after completing the courses because most frequently the acquisition of 120 hours does not ensure the possibility to join the labour market and to integrate. Unfortunately, this project did not envisage such a possibility.
We have asked the course participants to evaluate the quality of the courses at the end of each group and to assess to what extent the material learnt and the Latvian language skills acquired during the classes have helped them to integrate in the society of Latvia. Course participants approve highly the quality of the courses. Regarding the language skills and integration, the course participants write:
I have started to understand more the people surrounding me in everyday life. I can understand simple Latvian language in shops, post office; I am able to orient in the offer of good, to communicate in public places (at the doctor, at the chemist’s, in the market…). The language classes help me to communicate with others at work. I understand the structure of the language, I can read and understand a simple text. I attend the teacher- parent meetings at my child’s school and I start understanding a bit. The materials about the history, cities, and famous people of Latvia help to get to know the society of Latvia. I started reading advertisements and understanding them. For the present, it is difficult to understand, I have to continue learning, 120 hours is not enough. I started speaking; I have problems with grammar and I continue learning. The courses gave me more self-confidence. The project helped me very much: the world around me becomes more understandable.
Summarizing the results of this year and finishing the year we are happy that we can continue the cooperation with the third country nationals implementing the second stage of the project. In 2019 and 2020, we have envisaged to ensure the Latvian language courses for 350 participants, organizing 28 Latvian language groups. We look forward to our cooperation - let’s gain new experiences and overcome the challenges!