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Russia: Muscovites Embrace Learning Central Asian Languages

Tajik is the most popular Central Asian language class offered in Moscow’s Muzeon Park. (Photo: Eradzh Nidoev)

Hear a man speaking Tajik on Moscow’s fashionable Krymskaya Embankment, and you could be forgiven for thinking he's migrant worker on break from one of the many construction sites in the area. But listen carefully and you realize that it’s a native Russian-speaker practicing a new language.

This summer, the nearby state-funded Muzeon Park is offering free Central Asian language classes. Organizers say they founded the School of Migrants’ Languages to build cultural bridges between the millions of migrant laborers in Russia, mostly from Central Asia, and their hosts, who can often be hostile toward guest workers.

The school offers four languages – Tajik, Uzbek, Kazakh and Moldovan. Native speakers from various university linguistics departments around Moscow teach the languages, one class each per week, in a special pavilion in the park. Teachers upload scanned teaching materials and textbooks, which students can download to view on tablets or print before class. (The Tajik materials are available here.)

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Eradzh Nidoev is a Moscow-based journalist.

Russia: Muscovites Embrace Learning Central Asian Languages

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