eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society cover
The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society
Covid-19 mõju liivi keele omandamise võimalustele; pp. 124–138
PDF | 10.3176/esa66.05

Gunta Klava

The effect of Covid-19 on Livonian language learning pportunities

This article examines several programmes created by the University of Latvia Livonian Institute promoting Livonian language learning which came about as a result of the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. The value and role of specifically digital solutions increased across society during this period, becoming a standard part of every aspect of daily life.

Taking into account the reasons for the present Livonian language situation, it becomes clear that despite the overall seriousness of the circumstances created by the pandemic, there have also been certain positive developments for language learning and endangered language maintenance resulting from this situation. It may be that the pandemic situation prompted a change in perspective – among not only researchers but also society in general – on Livonian language preservation as well as its role and function. This shift confirmed and emphasised to the Livonian community as well as to broader society that Livonian – despite its small number of speakers – deserves the same opportunities available to every language and that these are offered not only by modern technology, but also by linguistic insights into language vitality and language acquisition theory. In this context, the two main Livonian language learning programmes prompted by the pandemic are discussed. These are: (1) the 7 online Livonian language lessons, which originally were developed as an instructional module for general education schools and were the first time in history when the opportunity to study Livonian was included in the school programme in Latvia; and (2) the next step in learning language basics, which grew out of this project – a series of songs written by Livonian authors intended for children and young people.

These Livonian language learning and popularisation initiatives – motivated by the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic – are grounded in new approaches and methods of language acquisition as well as other proven techniques for preparing educational materials. These initiatives show that in a difficult situation, a flexible approach and creative solutions can place even a small language on a more equal footing when competing with larger languages.


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