BELGRADE, January 4 (Itar-Tass) — A decision to build a South Stream gas pipeline branch in Serbia has given a boost to the population's interest in studying the Russian language.
Following the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s the popularityof Russian somewhatwaned. However, now that the construction of a South Stream pipeline branch has been announced, Russian began to regain its positions among secondary-school pupils and studens. The process is particularly perceptible in the autonomous territory of Vojvodina in Serbia's north, across which a larger portion of the pipeline branch will run, Deputy Minister of Education Vesna Fila said Thursday. She said the Ministry "has to urgently look for ways to meet the suddenly grown demand for the teachers of Russian".
The Chinese language is also gaining popularity. This is connected with a large influx of investments from the People's Republic of China (PRC) in recent years. Last year, 2,500 pupils in 35 schools of Serbia began to study Chinese as an experiment. If the experiment proves successful, the authorities will have to mull in earnest adding Chinese to the list of foreign languages taught at all secondary educational establishments of the country. It is noteworthy that it is the Chinese government that pays for the work of language instructors and supplies didactic materials and manuals. The Serbian side, in gratitude, provides teachers from the PRC with housing free of charge.
Inlocal schols, pupils themselves may choose a foreign language they want to learn. The list currently comprises English, Frencg, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, and Greek.
Apart from foreign investors and the economic situation, the choice of a foreign language is alsi influenced in many respects by the media and television. In particular, many Serbs study Spanish due to the expansion of Latin American TV serials which the local television broadcasts without translation.
Nothwithstanding such changes, English is still confidently in the lead in the list of most popular foreign languages in Serbia. In the first form of school, about 90 percent of pupils choose English. In the fifth form schoolchildren begin to study a second foreign language. Depending on the region, French, German, and now Russian are chosen as such.