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Liepājā liela interese par latviešu valodas kursiem

Residency requirement sparks huge surge in Latvian language courses

Take note – story published 1 year and 4 months ago

Since the requirement for knowledge of the Latvian language for Russian citizens living permanently in Latvia came into effect last fall, the demand for Latvian language courses has grown rapidly, reports TV Kurzeme from Liepāja. 

Due to the high demand in Latvia's third-largest city, new study groups are being formed, where mostly seniors study. The recently adopted law stipulates that Russian citizens will have to submit a certificate of adequate knowledge of the Latvian language by September 1 in order to continue living and working in Latvia.

Liepāja resident Guna (no surname given) told TV Kurzeme: "In a way, I see it positively, because I think everyone should respect our country. And if you want to live here, then you have to respect our country, our language."

Similarly Velta from Liepāja said: "I think it is very correct. We are in Latvia. We needed this for a long time. Where is the problem? We do know Russian, although we do not live in Russia."

The law has caused a scramble among Russian citizens who have been living in Latvia, sometimes for many decades, but who have never familiarized themselves with the state language.

Lidija from Liepāja said: "It's very good, only [I don't think you need to test] those who are 80, 75 [years old]... no, you don't need to test them. It's hard. I am 75, too. I have a bad memory for such things."

Vladimirs Čirkins, a Russian citizen, is one of those now attending Latvian language classes: "Well, I live in Latvia. My whole family is Latvian. My wife is Latvian. I am a Russian citizen. Simply put, I want to live in Latvia and know the language. I have lived in Latvia for 30 years, but I don't know it. I understand a bit. I've already stopped sleeping at night. I'm starting to remember words at night. What are you laughing at? I used to sleep well. Now I wake up at half past five and start repeating the words and think about what tomorrow will be like. I don't mind. I have a 4 month course here. That's what I was told. And after that it will be no problem."

Since interest in learning the Latvian language is growing, new Latvian language learning groups are being formed in Liepāja. The course participants are mostly elderly Russian citizens with little or no prior knowledge of the language.

"For the most part, those who have already started learning are people who have already lived in Latvia for quite a long time. And we have not made them speak. Therefore, they do not know how to speak," admitted Daiga Bindere, a language learning coordinator with SIA "Valodu vēstniecība".

"If once we couldn't make up one group, now we have 20 groups. People stand in line to apply. They come in through both doors. The phone rings non-stop," said Inga Sprice, director of professional continuing education institution SIA "PURE Academy".

The State Educational Content Center (VISC) admitted that currently applications for the Latvian language test are actively being made. Around a thousand citizens of the Russian Federation have already registered for the tests, which will take place from April 11 to July 31, but according to estimates as many as 18,000 tests may be required, putting a serious strain on available resources.

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