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Study: Foreigners having trouble learning Latvian

A study by the Social Integration Fund (SIF) states that foreigners often have trouble learning Latvian because people don't speak the language with them in everyday situations, said Brigita Zepa, one of the authors of the study, in an interview to Latvian TV.

She said that, on the whole, citizens of foreign countries with permanent or temporary residence permits, had been dissatisfied in their own country. For example, immigrants from Russia usually dislike the political situation.

These people consider the Latvian society and nature attractive, but some problems exist [for them] as well, said Zepea. For example, about 60% of the surveyed foreigners don't work. Many try finding work as they don't have enough savings, but the main barrier is the Latvian language.

She said that many try learning Latvian and attend language lessons. They are satisfied with the lessons and the results, but, when they try speaking Latvian, the Latvians switch to Russian upon hearing their accent, and this causes trouble for learning and using the language.

The study reveals much not only about immigrants but also about the Latvian society, said Zepa. We think that we are friendly, but we are sometimes intolerant. Especially children can be intolerant of people who differ from them, and that means that there should be more talk about it in school.

The study consisted of a large survey of foreigners in Latvia, as well as in-depth interviews with foreign investors.

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