Muzeon Park has become the home of the School of Migrants’ Languages. The organizers offer free lessons in four Central Asian languages in an effort to close the gap between the cultural divide that separates the Muscovites and the millions of migrants from several Central Asian countries that are hoping to make a better life in Russia. The program is to help stem the tensions that are happening and are bound to happen in the future between the host country and the guest laborers.
And so today, it is not surprising to hear Muscovites practice speaking Tajik, Kazakh, Moldovan or Uzbek around the Krymskaya Embankment where several construction sites are located. They could even pass as native speakers, if you do not know how to spot the difference.
Moldovan, which is quite like Romanian and the three other central languages, is taught by native speakers of these languages who are from the linguistics departments of several universities in Moscow. Each language lesson lasts for three months. One class is conducted one day each week in the park’s special pavilion. Teachers scan textbooks and teaching materials and upload them in the school website for students to download. They can either print them or use their tablets to view the books and lessons.
In an interview, Veronica Sergeeva, the school’s director, said that their goals are for other nationalities to learn and speak other languages to encourage them to become familiar with the different cultures, learn the basics and be curious enough to visit other countries.
Although there was more interest in the Kazakh language before they started the classes, they now found out that there were more Kyrgyz workers in the city and now wish they were able to offer this language rather than Kazakh.
The most popular among the languages they teach is Tajik, which has about 45 to 55 students. It is conducted ever Friday evening. She said the interest may be because Tajik is the most romantic among the languages they are currently teaching, although she also said the Tajik population in Moscow is substantial.
Tajik, the language in Tajikistan, is closely related to Persian and was the language used by Omar Khayyam in his poetry.
Uzbek is the least popular among the four. Classes for Uzbek are held every Tuesday evening and right now they only have about 15 students. One student stands out and is the favorite of the language teachers. Marian Borisovich is already 73 and he attends all the four languages classes regularly. Uzbek is his favorite language. He said that no one is too old to learn, explaining why he attends all the classes.
Encouraged by the popularity of the summer language classes, the school director is already planning to conduct more classes in other languages as the response and interest in the courses are increasing.