Family stays

Family studies are an effective way of familiarising young people aged 7-18 who are living in Estonia but whose mother tongue is a language other than Estonian with Estonian cultural space and of offering them the opportunity to form contacts with people of the same age who speak Estonian as their mother tongue. The aim of studying the language while staying with a family is to support young people in acquiring Estonian through communication with their peers and by actively taking part in activities.

The 10-day family stays give the youngsters a unique opportunity not only to practise their Estonian, but also to experience a different way of living. By taking part in ordinary family life they gain both the courage and the skills needed to use the national language for everyday communication. Good relations develop between the youngsters and their host families based on their experiences, and these are maintained after the time they spend together. A fun programme is put together for the participants so that they have plenty to talk about. They visit local sights, go hiking, have picnics, spend evenings round the campfire, take care of animals and take part in sports competitions. The choice of activities takes the weather into account, but also the youngsters’ own wishes.

The Integration Foundation has been supporting Estonian language and culture studies at camps and in families since 1998. Almost 20,000 youngsters from all over the country have taken part in the projects. The schedule and contact details for family stays are published in spring.