estonian language

  • estonian— a real language or a prank on visitors?
  • as a finnic language, estonian is unrelated to most other languages in europe
  • B1 level of estonian is required to to get a long-term residence permit

Estonian (eesti keel) is the official language of the country of Estonia and a national treasure.

In addition to Estonian speakers, there are many native Russian speakers in the country, as well as other smaller communities of speakers of other languages. English is spoken widely enough that, in practical terms, learning Estonian isn’t necessary: You will most likely get by quite nicely with just the basics.

To get a long-term residence permit, however, you’ll need to reach the B1 level.

If you do decide to learn, get ready for exciting times. As a Finnic language, Estonian is unrelated to most other languages in Europe. Newcomers can struggle with what feels like excessive grammar and vowel-heavy pronunciation.

At the end of the day, though, it’s just another language. Your ability to pick it up will mostly just depend on your interest and effort level. The secret is finding out how to trick Estonians into making small talk long enough for you to practice! When you find out how to do that, let us know—we’ve been trying to unlock that secret.

Until then, we’ve got you covered. Drop by the International House for our (free) language cafés where you can put your burgeoning language skills to work and make friends along the way.

good to know

international house of estonia

International House of Estonia offers free language cafes twice a week.

Tuesday from 08.30 – 10.00

Thursday from 17.30 – 19.00

Our language cafe will start on the 23rd of January and end on the 23rd of May 2024.

settle in estonia programme

Settle in Estonia offers an inclusive adaptation program that not only covers relevant topics but also provides the opportunity to learn the Estonian language at A1 and A2 levels. With flexible options including morning or evening classes, online or in-person in various locations like Tartu, Tallinn, Narva, and Jõhvi, participants can choose a course duration of approximately 3 months (A1) or 5 months (A2) to enhance their language skills and better integrate into Estonian society.

the integration foundation

The Integration Foundation provides a range of resources to support integration, including information on finding language cafes and classes, as well as guidance on how to embark on independent language study. Whether you’re seeking structured courses or prefer self-study, the foundation offers valuable information and assistance to help you on your language learning journey.