Survey suggests most schools plan to replace Russian with German

Instead of Russian, schools could offer to teach German, French and Spanish as a second foreign language, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education and Science (IZM), LETA reported on April 9.

In early March, the Ministry surveyed 450 schools about their possibilities to ensure the acquisition of a different second foreign language instead of the Russian language as of September 1, 2026.

Most schools – 401 – plan to replace Russian with German. 91 schools plan to provide French and 79 Spanish.

Schools' readiness to teach a second foreign language other than Russian varies. There are schools where a gradual change of Russian as a second foreign language to French or German has already started. Other schools, however, do not know where to get teachers.

The Ministry plans to purchase additional qualification courses for training teachers this year. Around €130,000 could be spent on this.

Learning a second foreign language in schools is mandatory, but the educational institution decides on what language lessons it will provide.

Currently, Latvian students learn English as the first foreign language, but later they start learning a second foreign language. In theory, as a second foreign language, children can learn German, French, and other languages, but in practice, Russian is most often taught because of the lack of other language teachers in schools.

According to the Ministry, almost half of Latvian schools learn Russian as the second foreign language. Some educational institutions do not offer an alternative to learning Russian.

At the beginning of last year, the Ministry conducted a survey on ensuring the choice and acquisition of a second foreign language in 315 Latvian schools. Of the 307 schools that completed the survey, 252 do not provide students with the choice to learn one of the official languages of EU countries as a second foreign language during the primary education phase. 135 schools stated that this is due to the lack of teachers, while 129 schools have historically offered only Russian.

According to the Ministry, “due to a significant increase in demand for EU languages”, as well as due to the decrease in the importance and use of the Russian language, it received submissions from several parents asking schools to provide one of the EU languages as a second foreign language.

The IZM proposes to require schools to offer one of the official languages of the Member States of the European Union (EU) or of the European Economic Area (EEA), or a foreign language whose acquisition is governed by intergovernmental agreements in the field of education, as a second foreign language for pupils, from the school year 2026/2020. Russian is not among these languages.

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