Iran sees Russian language an option to end English monopoly

April 21, 2018

TEHRAN – Iran is considering Russian language as an option among other languages to be added to its educational curriculum, aiming to end the monopoly of English as the second language on schools, Tasnim quoted Education Minister Mohammad Bat'haei as saying on Friday.

He made the remarks in a meeting with Vyacheslav Nikonov, the chairman of the State Duma Committee for Education and Science, following his trip to Moscow last week to attend the Ministerial Forum on “Global Dialogue on ICT and Education Innovation”, which was held in Moscow on April 18 and 19.

He went on to say that he had discussed this issue with Russian Education and Science Minister Olga Vasilieva and accordingly, a workgroup is going to be established to develop the required memorandum of understanding.

Nikonov for his part, welcomed this idea, adding that Farsi is now being taught in some universities of Russia.

He called for devising plans to teach Farsi in Russian schools along other languages like Chinese.

Wave of criticism in social media 

This event provoked a wave of criticism among Iranians in social media. Some believe that due to its global importance, English cannot be removed from Iranian curriculums, at least for now.

Others believe that the educational system which cannot provide a standard and efficient system for teaching the easy-to-access English, how can teach the less known Russian language in schools. Iranian students study English for 6 years in schools but most of them just learn a bunch of vocabulary and strict grammar rules which rarely become applicable in their future lives.

Promoting Russian or any other languages in Iran is positive measure, no doubt, since every language opens a new window in learner’s life. However, it seems that it is better to expand language ties in universities where students themselves choose to specialize in a language.

Teaching Russian in Iranian schools is conditioned on teaching Farsi in Russian schools, Bat'haei tweeted in an answer to these criticisms, Mehr reported on Friday.
Another important topic in the future MOU is to introduce the culture of Iran to Russian students, he added.

Decrease in Russian speakers 

The number of Russian speakers has decreased by about 50 million since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, TheMoscowTimes quoted Nikonov as saying on August 29, 2017.

He further called for an expansion of the Eurasian Union and an increase in educational programs abroad to counter the decline from a high of 350 million to 300 million Russian speakers today.

The decrease is primarily due to the growing linguistic hegemony of English and changes in state education policies in the former Soviet republics, he added.
MAH/MQ/MG