This study investigates de facto language policy in Estonia. It investigates how language choices at the micro (or individual) level are negotiated within the macro (or social and historical) context: how official language policy and other features of the discursive environment surrounding language and its use in Estonia translate into real-world language behaviour and practices at a local level. This is achieved through the monitoring of language use in daily interactions of a group of university students with staff members in public and private organisations. This research also engages with the concept of practices as a meso-level of repeated activity, recently introduced into applied language studies, linking individual instances of (linguistic) behaviour with the macro social and historical context within which they occur. Such practices allow us a more complete understanding of how macro translates into micro (as in traditional top-down language planning), but also how the micro can resist the macro, and thus how behaviours in local contexts reshape wider perspectives on language issues (bottom-up language planning). This picture of language use “on the ground” forms part of a wider critical analysis of how “doing language” is managed in contemporary Estonian society, and how this management of language can be improved in order to achieve both the maintenance of (linguistic) diversity and the reduction of social inequality. In addition to contributing knowledge in language policy and planning (LPP) by offering a study on Estonia with a critical focus on local contexts, this article also moves the field forward by incorporating the latest thinking about language and its social contexts. Not only is this the first study to focus on the micro in Estonian in LPP, it is the first to apply a micro–meso–macro model specifically to LPP, overall. This multilayered approach, which includes the meso-political level of practices, allows us to advance LPP studies in powerful and productive ways. It provides a way of arriving at an informed understanding of why people use language in particular ways in multilingual contexts, thus permitting the formulation of LPP that can be effective and ethical in its outcomes.