Lecturer Liga Klavina: Foreign students learn Latvian language with pleasure (0)
Foreign students are very open and they learn Latvian language with pleasure so they could better integrate into the surrounding society, says Liga Klavina-the lecturer of Turiba University. She noticed that students like to order a meal in a cafe in Latvian and, in addition to learning the language, they also learn Latvian traditions.
Voluntarily learns Latvian
Since 2011 while working actively with foreign students, who learn Latvian language, has been created a very positive image. Together study young people from different universities and, of course, from different countries - Germany, Turkey, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, France, India, Spain, Uzbekistan, etc. These are students who take part in the Erasmus exchange program, spending only a short time in Latvia, and foreign students who have been studying in Latvia for several years. Although the studies take place in English young people voluntarily choose to learn Latvian to communicate with lecturers and to make friendships with local students easier.
Likes to order a meal in a cafe in Latvian
The studies lasts for one semester during which most of the students learn Latvian according to A1 level, but there are also those who learn it at A2 level. At the end of the course young people often continue to study the language themselves. The purpose of these lessons is to lay a good foundation - we begin with an alphabet, simple phrases and conversations. Young people themselves want to learn the expressions which they could use in everyday situations. One of the first things they learn is to order a lunch in the cafe, which the students are trying immediately.
To be tolerant and broadminded
Those who really want- can achieve a lot, but the main thing is not to take away this desire form them. So I want to remind you that when we hear a foreigner trying to speak Latvian, it is not always necessary to point out mistakes. People are different – the criticisms will motivate some of them to learn more, but others can get scared of trying again. Foreign students in Latvia often feel lonely, they try to integrate into the environment and feel like locals. Language brings closer so young people try to learn it.
Walk a mile in someone’s shoes
Foreign students have also become aware of Latvians - they have noticed that we are very closed and that it takes time to be friends. However, when Latvians open up, they are very kind and friendly. Like locals, also foreigners are very diverse, but I would definitely invite everyone to try to imagine themselves in their place when you are far from home and study in a country where everything is new and unfamiliar. Perhaps it would help us to be more open and welcoming.
Joy about name days and the gift of flowers
Foreign students are also happy to learn about Latvia, its culture and traditions. We often invite people with interesting hobbies to the lessons to let them get to know Latvia through such a prism. Most recently the students met with the weaver of the Latvian belts and they were excited very much, even the boys. We have also played play-games like "Kas Dārzā” (“What’s in the garden”). Students from Asian countries are very surprised by the traditions of our Ligo celebration - they emphasize that such sense of community, which is among Latvians during celebrations, is not common in their countries. Another thing that is perceived with excitement is the celebration of name days - since these celebrations are not common abroad, young people are happy to explore the calendar and try to find their name or at least a similar one there.
A positive surprise for many is also the flower-giving tradition in Latvia - if in many parts of the world flowers are given only at very important occasions, then we give flowers to others for no reason or at less important events. We tell this also to foreign students, one pointing out that it is unacceptable to give someone a couple number of flowers, even though, for example, in Asian countries it is accepted to do so.
Latvians have something to be proud of
Foreign students love Latvian nature very much, they often go to Sigulda and Jurmala even in winter. There are countless countries with little or no snow, and the young people from those countries enjoy the winter in Latvia. I often hear form foreign students that Latvians have many things to be proud of. And yet they suggest that we should definitely smile more. It seems to me that these are the recommendations we should take into account!