Klaipėda University, in Lithuania's western seaport city, is full of students even during the summer. The students are all foreigners, but they sing and speak Lithuanian, studying the language they say is very difficult.
People from 18 different countries, all with varying motivations, are attending this year's Lithuanian language and culture summer school in Klaipėda.
“We have more and more students [each year],” says Jūratė Derukaitė, the head of the Lithuanian and Foreign Language Centre that organizes the course. Some of the students, about ten, have Lithuanian ancestry, she adds.
The 18th Lithuanian summer school this year attracted attendees from as far as Australia, Japan and the Philippines.
The students have three daily classes, after which they explore Klaipėda, attend events and visit local families.
Virginija Jurgaitytė, the instructor, says the programme is quite intense. The students immediately start with complete phrases: introducing themselves, asking where the interlocutor is from, what languages they speak.
“On day three, we are tackling numbers,” she says.
The students' motivations for learning Lithuanian vary. Many need it for their research pursuits.
“I am doing research about Lithuania at my university in Moscow and I need Lithuanian to do it well, because I need to talk with Lithuanians,” says Amina from Russia.
“I work at the Academy of Science of Belarus, I am an ethnologist and simply interested in Lithuanian studies, I am very interested in Lithuania's history, Lithuanian culture and language,” says Yuri.
“I am writing my thesis about Lithuanian migrant families in Sweden and about preservation of language,” says Frederik from Germany.
The students agree that Lithuanian is a beautiful, but very difficult language. Grammatical cases and accents are “hell”.
The Lithuanian language summer school at Klaipėda University lasts one month. Another course is organized in January.