According to “Official Language Law” the official language in the Republic of Latvia is the Latvian language. The law predict requirements for use of the official language in state, local government and private institutions, as also its use by employees. The official language must be working language and the language of official meetings at work, record-keeping and documents in state and local government institutions, and in companies in which the greatest share of capital is owned by the state or a local government. In case of use of foreign languages, the translation into the official language must be ensured.
The Latvian language belongs to the Baltic group of the Indo-European family of languages. Its closest and only living relative is Lithuanian (Latvian is a non-Slavic and a non-Germanic language). The Latvian language is considered one of the oldest of the Indo-European (European) languages. The first printed text in Latvian appeared in 1525. Up to the second half of the 19th century Latvian had become a highly standardised language, rich in press publications and belles-lettres. There are about 1,400,000 Latvian native speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad, as well as 500, 000 second language speakers. Latvian is now a modern European language and a one of 23 official languages of the European Union. Language codes: ISO 639-1: lv ; ISO 639-2: lav ; ISO 639-3: lav .
The most common foreign languages in Latvia are English, Russian and German.
While it is not a problem to communicate in English, dealing with everyday issues, when spending a longer period in Latvia, it might be necessary to make oneself familiar with the official language. Software, cassettes and self-study books are created for learning Latvian (quite a wide range available on the Internet), but, as the Latvian grammar is found quite complicated by the foreigners, it might be reasonable to find some local language courses.
Some universities have its own facilities to offer Latvian language training courses for foreign students, visiting lecturers and researchers. Please to consult with your provisional employer in Latvia. Other possibility to learn and train Latvian language is to utilize the services of private companies.
Public Service Language Centre (http://www.vmc.lv/) - offers Latvian programmes for persons speaking in English: grammar-based general conversation; business conversation; grammar. A student who successfully completes courses receives a certificate and a diploma recognised by the Ministry of Education and Science.
Lideris (Leader) (http://www.lideris.lv/) - language learning and consultation centre - training in Latvian for small groups speaking in English.
Mirte (http://www.mirte.lv/) - individual lessons in Latvian for persons speaking in English or in German.
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