Concerning the Vitality of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian in Higher Education

Birute Klaas-Lang (University of Tartu)

Linguistic and cultural diversity is definitely one of the core values and riches of Europe. However, a language exists until its trouble-free use is granted in all the domains, including higher education. A language itself must be capable of it and meet the needs of the domains. On the other hand, a state / society / institution must have an environment that enables the use of the language. In the higher-education space, which is open and international, universities are making efforts to keep a balance between international (i.e. almost always English-medium) and mother-tongue-medium teaching. Promotion of the international environment is important for universities from the perspective of both business and institutional quality. On the other hand, a mission of the university is to ensure the continuity of the native-language intelligentsia, which is needed for the continuation of the state and nationality and the development of one’s mother tongue.

Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian represent those lesser used languages of Europe in the case of which one can speak about mother-tongue-medium higher education (incl. doctoral studies) and research. The presentation will compare the position of Estonian, Lithuanian, and Latvian in higher education; it is an attempt to show whether and how the regulation of institutional language environment and the resultant actions can maintain a balance between mother-tongue-medium instruction (in the case of lesser used languages) in higher education and international openness. The presentation will also analyse how the language-policy regulations of the state and institutions of higher education interact with one another.

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