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Learning Estonian as a second language – hard work or easy fun?

Keywords: Estonian as a second language, language acquisition, language constructions, usage-based approach, gamification


The article tries to answer the question whether Estonian as a second language can be learned in a way that is not only effective, but also easy and fun. First, the principles of second language development are discussed. This discussion is based on the view that language consists of constructions – linguistic units in which words and grammar are inextricably intertwined and whose form and meaning form a whole (e.g. I do not know) (Goldberg 1995; Croft 2001). Constructions develop in the learner language on a usage-based way (Eskildsen 2008; Martin et al. 2010; Mustonen 2015; Kitsnik 2018). This means that to acquire a second language a person needs much input from an authentic language environment, as well as a lot of opportunities to try and use the language.

To support the teaching of a second language in language classes, there is a need to use as authentic linguistic inputs as possible and create a lot of motivating ways to use the language in realistic situations. To achieve these goals the innovative methodology of gamification seems very suitable. Using this methodology learners are really involved in exciting situations, which needs a lot of improvisation and offers challenges. Active and realistic activities, a good atmosphere and support make language learning easy and allow constructions to develop effectively. Joint performing of fun tasks give learners a lot of positive emotions and make language learning fun.


Mare Kitsnik (b. 1962), PhD, University of Tartu, Department of Applied Linguistics, Senior Research Fellow in Estonian as Foreign Language (Jakobi 2-437, 51005 Tartu),



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