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Russian An Alternative To Swedish In Schools?
Arto Mustajoki, Professor of Russian Language and Literature at the University of Helsinki, has suggested that Finnish-speaking elementary school children be given the choice between Swedish and Russian as a first non-native language.
Mustajoki argues that making Russian available for study in elementary school would benefit both languages. In an interview with the newspaper Uutispäivä Demari, he said that offering Russian as an alternative to obligatory Swedish could even improve the Swedish-language skills of Finnish-speakers.

"Even though Russian would be an alternative, the vast majority would choose Swedish. There would be more motivation to learn a self-chosen language, than to learn mandatory Swedish," said Professor Mustajoki.

So far, the Ministry of Education has rejected calls for making Russian an alternative in elementary schools, although there would be demand for it especially in eastern areas close to the border with Russia.

At present, less than one percent of Finnish elementary school pupils study Russian.
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