However, as the rouble crisis continues, agents are still cautious about predicting major growth for the coming year.
The “new education standard” mandating high school students learn two languages was announced shortly before it came into effect on September 1 by Education and Science Minister Dmitry Livanov.
“Parents will see the point in investing into their summer vacation to study abroad so that they get better results in the end exam”
The Russian government considers foreign language to be “not simply a communication tool, it also develops children’s memory and intellect”, Livanov told the government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
Until September, it was only compulsory for students to learn one foreign language, with the majority learning English.
According to Anastassia Romanenko, managing director of Insight Lingua and board representative of the Association of Russian Educational Advisors, the policy will encourage more parents to send their children to Germany, France and Spain for periods of study abroad.
“If the student starts learning another language and then their parents are thinking about where do we want to send him for a vacation, and they think ‘My son is learning English and German so maybe we can look at different destinations,’ that gives them more choice,” Romanenko told The PIE News.
Izabella Lauterpacht, deputy director of System-3 Education Centre, said that she has already seen a number of students learning two languages travelling to the UK for one or two summers, before going to another country such as Germany or France the next summer.
She said she expects to see this becoming more common as more students learn two languages, but added that “everything depends on the economic situation of the country”.
“If the rouble at least stabilises and doesn’t fall back any more, there is a hope that [students] will diversify into other countries,” she commented.
While it may take “a couple of years” for the change to affect longer-term study abroad, Romanenko thinks agencies may soon begin to see the impact on their summer camp business, where students can take entry level courses.
Parents may also opt to send their children to intensive three- or four- week summer courses overseas to avoid private tutors but still boost their English levels, she said.
“If the rouble at least stabilises, there is a hope that students will diversify into other countries”
“It should increase the summer language market for sure, because [students] will have to do some extra preparation,” she commented. “Their parents will see the point in investing into their summer vacation to study abroad so that they get better results in the end exam, because this is very important.”
In Russia, pupils’ end of school exam results are used as part of the university application process. It is not yet known what level of English proficiency the exam will test.