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London teacher: Belarusians are better in English than Russians

Hugh Dellar, author at National Geographic Learning, has spoken about whether people speak English in Belarus and how well they are in it.

- Do people speak English well in Belarus? It is difficult to answer on the go, because this is my first time in your country and for these days I have mainly communicated only with teachers. English teachers speak excellent English! So the average level of English among teachers is very high. This is typical for the countries of Eastern Europe in general: Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Poland.

I did not travel much in Eastern Europe: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic. I can say that in all these countries the level of English is about the same, equally good. In Belarus, people know English better in hotels and are better in it than in Russia. In Moscow, people speak English well in business hotels, but if you go to Chelyabinsk or Krasnoyarsk - no one speaks it. Maybe a couple of guys in bars.

Minsk airport employees speak English well. Better than in Moscow. 

I think that in Belarus the level of English will grow. Last night I was sitting in a bar in Upper Town, and it looked like a lot of people spoke a little English. Some of them were more drunk than the rest, and more insistent in their attempts to speak English. The people I spoke with knew about the new visa rules in Belarus. They see many new people who come thanks to this innovation. I think it's very motivating: if you know that you will have the opportunity to talk with foreigners, of course, you will practice the language more.

In 2019 Belarus will host the Second European Games, and two years later the IIHF World Hockey Championship. And this is an excellent opportunity for the whole country to improve the level of English. A lot of foreigners will come, and teachers can tell their students: "Guys, in two years you will be able to talk with the British, Americans, and Canadians. Let's make an effort and get ready for this meeting."

In the world Belarus is known for its IT products. This is a unique situation: you look in two directions at once. I mean, Russia and the rest of the world. Your IT sector, of course, is more oriented towards other countries, so it has to be more "English-speaking" than other spheres in Belarus. We conduct our English classes in Minsk in a hub for start-ups, and all the signs there are in English. And of course everyone speaks English. IT engineers communicate with foreigners, so they must know English well.

I think there will always be a gap in the knowledge of English between IT and other sectors. How much time can it take for other sectors to improve? Depends on the language policy of your state and a bunch of other factors. Now the world is so insane that I do not presume to predict what will happen in England even in five years. Let alone in Belarus.

Photo: National Geographic Learning

Hugh Dellar: Belarusians speak English better than some European nations