Language as an integral value in European development of society. IPN debate

The campaigns and state policy in the field of teaching of the Romanian language to other language speakers in Moldova necessitates rethinking and additional efforts. Such a conclusion was reached by the participants in IPN’s public debate “Language as an integral value in European development of society”.

The given situation is depicted best by a study carried out by the Department of Sociology of the State University of Moldova. In the debate, the figures were commented by jurist Ștefan Gligor, the standing expert of IPN’s project “Overcoming stereotypes of European integration through communication”. “Statistics show that less than 40% of the Ukrainians who live in Moldova study Ukrainian as the first language. Russian is studied by over two thirds and only 8.2% study Romanian as the second language,“ he stated.

According to the same study that was conducted ten years ago, 65.5% of the Gagauz people study Russian as the first language. Gagauz is the second language of study for only 27% of the Gagauz people and less than 7% study Romanian as the second language.

The situation is different only among Bulgarians. 45% of them learn Bulgarian as the first language. Russian is considered the second language by 40%, while Romanian by 10%.

Only 11.2% of the Russian citizens in Moldova named Romanian as the language of study and use.

“The state didn’t manage to successfully implement its policy to linguistically integrate the national minorities. It chose a policy of trilinguism, which is the studying of more languages. For the students to be motivated to simultaneously study the mother tongue, Russian as a means of interethnic communication and Romanian as the official language, solid integration programs and techniques were needed. In the absence of these, an opposite effect was achieved: the ethnic groups forget the mother tongue in favor of the Russian language, not mastering Romanian,” stated Ștefan Gligor.

According to professor Alexei Axan, author of Romanian language teaching methods and textbooks, the representatives of the national minorities in Moldova continue to think that the Romanian language is a difficult one. “This is not true! The Rumanian language is studied as any other language. One should not go to language courses with the thought that the language is difficult. The teacher will anyway help you get rid of this mistaken conception, proving the opposite, including by examples taken from the mother tongue,” stated Alexei Axan.

He noted that the quality of teaching of the Romanian language to speakers of other languages changed considerably. “There are very good teachers. Many of them are my pupils. Many abandoned the school teaching methods that surely were to be seriously modified,” said Alexei Axan.

He described this problem as scrupulous and painful for the Romanian language teachers. “I’m often asked why their children study English with pleasure, but do not like studying Romanian. It goes to the school programs. Something should be changed there. The textbooks contain texts that will never help a student to speak Romanian fluently,” said Alexei Axan, noting that love for ordinary and simple vocabulary should be developed.

Another problem was signaled by Iulia Semionov, who heads the Association of Russian Language Speaking Journalists of Moldova. “It depends a lot on the teacher’s personality. Look, thousands of students who graduate from school cannot say something in Romanian, but there are also cases when the persons build a brilliant career based on this language, So, a lot depends on the teacher,” stated the journalist.

She gave as an example two Romanian language teachers of the Theatric Lyceum. “They have the same methodologies and textbooks as the other school teachers, but they planned their work so that their students perfectly know the Romanian language and continue their studies at the faculty also in Romanian,” stated Iulia Semionova.

She also said that the teacher should develop communication abilities and should talk to children so as to develop their interest in the taught subject. “We now have a lot of works of literature and courses on this theme. But the Ministry of Education should devote special attention to this subject,” concluded Iulia Semionova.

The public debate “Language as an integral value in European development of society” was held in the framework of the project “Overcoming stereotypes of European integration through communication” that is implemented with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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