Andres Tennus

Public lecture on Mother Tongue Day: come and find out whether Wikipedia has a place in schools and universities

On 14 March at 13, all university members and language lovers are welcome to the university assembly hall to celebrate Estonia’s Mother Tongue Day.  Riina Reinsalu, Lecturer in Estonian Text Linguistics, will deliver a lecture “Does Wikipedia have a place at schools/universities?” (in Estonian) and winners of the University of Tartu language award 2023 are congratulated. The event is broadcast live on UTTV.

This year’s Mother Tongue Day focuses on Wikipedia and its use in teaching. According to Riina Reinsalu, Lecturer in Estonian Text Linguistics at the University of Tartu and Friend of Wikipedia 2023, the use of Wikipedia for teaching and studies creates mixed feelings. “After all, Wikipedia is the largest online encyclopaedia and one of the most visited websites in the world, so it is only to be expected that learners also find their way there. However, it sometimes happens that Wikipedia is accessed too often, and its content is consumed indiscriminately, to the disapproval of teachers and lecturers,” said Reinsalu.

In her lecture, Riina Reinsalu first speaks about the position of the Estonian-language Wikipedia among other language versions (incl. compared with neighbouring languages) and the goals that Wikipedia as an open-access online encyclopaedia fulfils in the textual landscape. Based on recent research in Estonia, she will then talk about what students and teachers of general education schools think of Wikipedia and how they use it for school work. Among other things, the audience will learn how the University of Tartu has contributed to the development of Wikipedia.

After the lecture, it is possible to ask questions either on-site or using Slido (code 1008757).

After the presentation, the Rector of the University of Tartu Toomas Asser will congratulate the winners of the university’s 2023 language award, Vivarium Manager Sulev Kuuse and Professor of Cell Biology Toivo Maimets. The 2023 language award is given for the Estonian-language university textbook “Rakubioloogia”, which provides a systematic and up-to-date overview of modern cell biology, covering also developmental biology, immunology, tumour formation and histology. The cell biology textbook was compiled in cooperation with a hundred contributors and 31 co-authors, and considerable work was done to create and update specialised Estonian terms and fix them in use. This helps preserve the sustainability of scientific thinking in the Estonian language.


During the week of Mother Tongue Day, several other events are held.

  • On 14 March at 10:25, Vikerraadio’s e-dictation will take place for the 17th time already. Note that it is possible to practise for it already.
  • On 14 March at 16, the Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics celebrates Mother Tongue Day, focusing on teaching Estonian as a second language.
  • On 15 March at 15, the language deeds of the year and the best university textbook 2023 are announced, and quality awards are presented for the best language immersion programmes at the Ministry of Education and Research.
  • On 16 March at 17, a concert of Estonian choral music classics will take place in the University of Tartu assembly hall. The concert is by the chamber choir Head Ööd, Vend, conducted by Pärt Uusberg and Eleri-Kristel Kuimet. Tickets are available at Fienta.

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