Sprache | Language - Part 6

posted by usha on 2006/03/10 17:45

[ Sprache | Language ]

An entry in Tere Estimaa says that Russian Schools in Estonia will switch to Estonian as teaching language for some topics in 2007.

The objective "to broaden schoolchildren's [Estonian] language skills" is reasonable. Yet, to teach subjects like literature and the history of arts rather in Estonian than in Russian at Russian schools seems at least to me to be absurd.

As I was afraid of, literature is restricted to Estonian literature. I doubt that there is much space left for teaching Russian literature, as well. This, on the other hand, means the establishment of a weird hegemony of the very fine but rather "small" Estonian literature over the Russian literature rich in tradition, - notabene in Russian schools, that is schools for children with Russian heritage. I think, I can't really appreciate that. (I couldn't appreciate the reverse case, too.)

"Physics, chemistry and other exact sciences will be taught in Russian to ensure that the quality of teaching remains high," the minister said.

Though, there is a kind of distrusting the "exactness" of these sciences to be noticed, I am not sure about the full implication of the quote. Does that mean, on the one hand, that there are no teachers familiar with the Estonian language, available to teach the "exact sciences" or does the minister esteem the sciences much higher than the humanities and therefore consits on Russian as language of teaching for Russians, or, in a last case, has he to admit and to veil at the same time a preponderance of Russian-speaking scholars/teachers over Estonian-speaking?

However, if one is aware of the cultural impact of language on the topics taught and their reception and appropriation by the students, wouldn't it be much easier to start the language switch with the "exact sciences" which are partly constituted by pure formal languages than with the humanities, such as social sciences? Doesn't there the statement of untranslatability of national societies and mentalities lurk behind that? It could be worth to discuss the extent of this untranslatability before the language switch.


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