Bilingual education in Latvia: Higher education and adult education

 

 
State Language Law requires the use of one and only language of instruction – Latvian – in state financed education establishments. This is also a reason why high school students in minority schools are so highly motivated to learn Latvian.
Irina, a 10th grader from a minority school in the small town of Jelgava, says:
“ I can see only advantages in bilingual learning: all colleges and universities teach in Latvian. If we are bilingual from the first grade it means we will feel more comfortable in our lives having both languages – Latvian and Russian.” Igor, a 12th grader, admits: “I used to work in the trade industry, where you must speak both languages when advertising any item. Latvian was so useful.”
We can observe a wider scope of languages of instruction in private or international higher education establishments such as Riga School of Economics or Baltic Russian institute, where you can study in both English and Russian. Multilingual high school graduates even choose to go abroad – to the UK or Ireland – for study or work. The director of one of Jelgava’s high schools is very frank. “89 % of our students are admitted into higher education. The issue is whether they will stay in Latvia after graduation or go to Ireland at the age of 25. And I have doubt in the result of our educational efforts then.”
Adult education in Latvia has various facets: we can see advertisments for furher education not only in Latvian but also in Russian. For instance those of real economic weight – as IT or accountancy courses – are offered also in Russian (despite the fact that most of the software is in English). In business a tacit principle is very powerful : if I am going to sell you something, I will speak your language.