Palma.—At the start of the academic year at the Language School in 2011, 86 people had applied to study Russian but this coming term, there are 334 registered, nearly all of them wanting to start the basic course.

Gabriela Torrens, the Head of Official Schools at the Balearic Ministry for Education said yesterday that the rocketing figures can be explained by the significant rise in the number of Russians coming as tourists to the Balearics over the past two or three years.

Torrens said however, that there were was nothing essentially new about the courses available at the Official Language School in Palma this year. The latest addition was Chinese which was introduced four years ago and Russia has been taught for nearly a decade. “But up until now there has hardly been any demand for it,” she said.

From November, Torrens said, there will be one or two courses in Russian focusing specifically on tourism.
What is new however this year, is that applicants for the Language School won't have to queue up but instead register on line . Free places will be given to those who come first, but on the internet.

On the wane
At the other end of the scale meanwhile, is a notable change in the languages which are less in demand.
On the wane are numbers wanting to do a course in Spanish for foreigners, or to learn Catalan.
Torrens said that so far as Castilian Spanish is concerned, when people have learnt the basics, they are in a position to continue the learning process through their daily lives.

In the case of Catalan however, the fall in interest has been due to the present regional government's change in policy to drop the language as a pre-requisite for holding a government post. The Official Language School also has a fair amount of competition so far as Catalan courses are concerned, claimed Torrens. She said that people were happier to secure a working knowledge of Catalan through Schools for Adults if an official title is not needed.

Torrens said that there were now more young people under 30 wanting to learn languages now, chiefly as a qualification which gives them a greater chance of securing employment.