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Estonian Language Map

Estonian language study at IU

The Estonian program in the Indiana University Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS) offers students a great opportunity to learn a less commonly taught language in the Baltic region.

Every year, we offer introductory, intermediate, and advanced Estonian classes taught by professional and enthusiastic native speakers.

Estonian language learning as part of the CEUS Undergraduate Major and Minor

Estonian is one of the languages available for the CEUS Undergraduate Major. Tracks with two or three years of language study are available.

Fulfill your foreign language requirement in a small class with dedicated teachers. You can also recieve a CEUS Minor with two years of Estonian language study and a related culture course.

Why Study Estonian?

Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken natively by about 1.1 million people there and tens of thousands in various migrant communities elsewhere. It belongs to the Finnic branch of the Uralic language family.  Like Finnish, Estonian employs the Latin script as the basis for its alphabet, which adds the letters ä, ö, ü, and õ, plus newer additions of š and ž.

IU is the only university in the US that offers three levels of Estonian every year. Seize this unique opportunity and learn a less commonly taught language with:

·         an easily recognizable alphabet (you can handle a few diacritics: rõõm ´joy´,  õlu `beer`, töö `work`,  ülikool `university`)

·         a straightforward and fairly regular grammatical system (the 14 cases are there just for you to boast to your friends about; 11 of these work like English prepositions stuck to the end of the word: ülikoolis `at the university`)

·         familiar features in the structure and loanwords in the vocabulary due to international influences (guess the meaning of elekter, kohv, tomat, buss, muusika, kontsert…)

Interested in languages?

Taking Estonian is a great gateway to Finno-Ugric linguistics.  You can go on to learn the closely related Finnish or the more distant cousin Hungarian, both offered at IU.

Planning research in the area?

Estonia is one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union with an intriguing history, culture and society on the crossroads to Scandinavia, Russia, and Central Europe. Knowing the basics of the language opens the hearts and doors of Estonians and is a definite advantage in funding applications. Learn more about Estonia here.

Scholarship opportunities for further study in Estonia, either at Tartu University (established in 1632 by the Swedish king Gustav Adolf) or in the capital Tallinn, where the medieval downtown meets ultramodern high-rises on the Baltic coast

Common Phrases:

Hi! How’s it going? - Tere! Kuidas läheb?

Estonian is a beautiful language. - Eesti keel on ilus keel.

Blood-sausage is a delicious Christmas food. - Verivorst on maitsev jõulutoitu.

Alphabet: