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Amharic language courses kick off in Moscow schools

Addis Ababa, September21, 2023 (FBC) – At least three Moscow schools have introduced the teaching of either Amharic or Swahili as a second foreign language this fall, Sputnik reports.

Explaining why learning Amharic is an asset for young Russians, Alexandre Solomassov, principal of the Moscow school № 1522 said that introducing the teaching of either Swahili or Amharic as a second foreign language opens up prospects in the economic, diplomatic and cultural spheres between countries.

“Our country’s cooperation with African countries is developing rapidly and one of our main tasks as a school is to create all the conditions for our students to start preparing for the profession and the new challenges of tomorrow today,” he said.

Africa is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, and knowing the local language can be beneficial for business and investments and international relations, the principal stressed.

It is noted that Amharic is taught by two students from the Institute of Asian and African Countries, faculty of the prestigious Lomonosov Moscow State University. Mastering this language, and other African languages, opens up wide prospects, whether in the economic, diplomatic or cultural sense, according to them.

Given that Ethiopia was invited this summer to join the BRICS, “the Amharic language is becoming more relevant than ever,” Milena Koniaeva, who teaches Amharic courses, underlined.

“Ethiopia is one of the most cordial countries with Russia. Amharic is the lingua franca spoken by most, if not all, Ethiopians. And to establish a diplomatic dialogue or economic ties, the Amharic language can certainly become a key factor,” she elaborated.

The Amharic lessons will allow students to immerse in the culture of this African country, adds the other teacher, Sophia Zamessina.

“Language is the key to the African heart, the key to the human heart in general. If you talk to someone in their native language, it opens up a lot more borders. And Africans also have great confidence in a person who speaks the same language as them,” Zamessina highlighted.

In addition, she noted that as Russia approaches Ethiopia, the country “needs specialists who speak the same language as the Ethiopians.”

As for the students interviewed by Sputnik Africa, they expressed their enthusiasm for learning an African language, saying they’d “like to go to Ethiopia” and “get to know their culture and people.”

“[This language] struck me by its unusual character. Its symbols, which are not at all clear to me, actually contain an amazing meaning. I have never experienced this before with any other language, when I didn’t understand a single symbol, I would really like to know their meaning”, one of the students, Arseni underlined, adding that he is “eager to learn the Amharic language”.

Another student, Polina said that she “would like to go to Ethiopia and get to know their culture and their people.”

According to the press service of the Department of Education and Science of the Russian capital, the study of African languages began in three Moscow schools from the new academic year, on September 1.

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