Transfer to Estonian as Language of Instruction in Russian-Medium Upper Secondary Schools
A partial transfer to Estonian as the language of instruction in Russian-medium upper secondary schools in Estonia started in the early 1990s and culminated in 2010. Some teachers who must switch to teaching in Estonian have previously taught in Russian. It is important to determine if there is a need for additional in-service teacher training during the transfer period, and if so, what kind of training is required.
A model of teachers’ professional competences was compiled and a training needs analysis was conducted among expert groups of teachers. Six Russian-medium upper secondary schools were selected for the study on the basis of the representativeness of the criteria set to focus groups. The representative groups were asked to evaluate the need for additional in-service training and, eventually, the need for language support by rating their professional competences. The data was analysed using the Spearman’s correlation as well as the variations range of the three measured criteria at the level of several schools and their teaching staff, and at the level of mean indicator values.
Research has failed to reveal any commonalities in either the strengths or the weaknesses of teachers’ professional competences. Each school has a unique professional profile. The need for in-service professional training depends on the professional profile of each school (correlation 0.835–0.908). The need for language support is also highly correlated with the conscious need for training.
Any plans for a partial transfer to instruction in the Estonian language, as well as for additional in-service training and language support should be based on the needs of individual schools. In order to carry out the partial transfer of Russian-medium schools to Estonian as the language of instruction, it is absolutely vital to apply an individual approach to each and every school.