From September of last year the secondary schools of Ukraine started following new rules. According to the new standard of basic education, approved by the Cabinet in April of 2011, the list of school subjects for first-graders includes a foreign language. Moreover, according to the state standard of full secondary education, in the coming school year of 2013-2104  the fifth-graders will be obliged to study the second foreign language, chosen by school. Interesting thing is that the Russian language is also listed in this category.

What are the probabilities for the Russian language to become a single option for Ukrainian pupils? And do we have  sufficient number of teaches of foreign languages? ForUm has asked experts...

Volodymyr Kornilov, political scientist:

- I believe the Russian language must be taught in all schools of Ukraine, as it is the native language for the third part of the population, and the bigger half of the population speak it continuously.
Moreover, Russian should be especially taught to children who use it in everyday life in order to speak and write it correctly.

Lilia Hrynevych, MP ("Motherland" faction), chairman of the parliamentary committee on science and education:

- The second foreign language must be indeed foreign, not Russia, as our children already know it and use it in everyday life. On the other side, we simply do not have enough teachers of foreign languages to assign to every grade in all schools. According to the data I have, about 60% of children in Kyiv region will study Russian as the second foreign language.

Any innovations require proper preparation. Before issuing a decree they should have thought whether we have enough teachers of foreign languages and education materials. But in turn, the Education Ministry manipulates slogans it cannot fulfill.

Mykhailo Chechetov, MP of Ukraine, deputy head of the Party of Regions faction:

- As a doctor of sciences, economist and scientists I always tell my students that to make a career they need computer skills and knowledge of four languages minimum: Ukrainian, Russian, English and Chinese. 

To do things properly, pupils should be taught two languages - Ukrainian and Russian - from the first grader. I would devote equal number of hours for these languages. Moreover, I would not consider Russian as a foreign language for our children. At the same time, Russian is an international language of communication, as it is spoken in Turkey, Egypt, Eastern Europe, Asia and even China.
Oleksandr Demyanchuk, expert on education, doctor of political sciences, professor and head of the political sciences department of the Kyiv Mohyla Academy:

- The statistics shows that only 2% of this year graduates have decided to pass external independent testing in the Russian language. I believe the same story will happen to Russian as a foreign language. There might be children in Eastern Ukraine who will chose Russian, but it will not become a mass phenomenon. At the same time, introduction of the second foreign language is a positive factor and it should be welcomed.

Vasyl Kremen, former minister for education and science:

- The project of twelve-year school also provided for study of the second foreign language from the fifth grade, but at the choice of the school. Thus, I welcome the decision of the Education Ministry to make it obligatory.

As for the foreign language itself, we should see the conditions of each school, I mean availability of teachers of foreign languages. A teacher of Russian is, obviously, easier to find. In my opinion, the more people speak Russian the better. The important thing that these people also speak Ukrainian and English.

Dmytro Tabachnyk, education minister:

- Russian as the second foreign language will be introduced in those schools, which apply for it. I will give you exact numbers when the schools deliver reports in August. If there is a good teacher of another foreign language, who can teach children the second foreign language, it is wonderful. However, it rests with school governance and parents to decide.

The state standards provides for obligatory study of two foreign languages starting from the fifth grade, and the state will control the quality of education. Those who think they can take an industrial engineer, who worked for three years in Italy, and make him teach Italian are wrong. The standard requires a teacher with pedagogical education and certain experience and level of teaching.


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