Do children in Cuba learn a foreign language at school? If so, which?

Currently they are taught English from primary school onward. As there is not a day to day contact with foreigners they usually does not practice English except with themselves so the quality of spoken English is far from perfect.

Most academic literature is in Spanish and English. Very few books are in other languages, Except from 50+ years old persons who studied in the Soviet Union or who learn Russian because they really wanted to, russian is almost unexistant.

Now a little bit about my personal experience:

Back in my era (I’m 45 years old) you were taught foreign language courses from middle school on.

At that time (1986–1989) most of the students were taught English as a second language during middle school. And yes, the rest were taught Russian at that age. It was a very basic English, and very basic Russian (things like saying hello, thanks, verbs, how to construct sentences, and so on).

I remember the first year I took English we wrote nothing. I guess this is the way little kids learn as they are not born knowing how to read/write. After that we learnt how to write and read.

My high school was from 1989–1992 and it was in a special school where we were taught the usual courses other high schools get + some special courses.

They are or were called: IPVCE. In my case I chose Biology so my class had a big emphasis on biology (50% biology, 50% other courses, 10 to 11 hours a day) and oh!! We were taught English (from scratch again) AND RUSSIAN (from scratch). I guess it should have been from scratch as there were some of us that were learning English in middle school, but others were learning Russian.

Those were the final days of real socialism in Europe and we were actually not interested in learning Russian at all. BTW: classes were very simple, much more simple than the English ones we were taught at the same time.

As of now: I know how to read a text in Russian and even mock the pronunciation but just reading, because except for very few words I don’t understand it.

Regarding English classes: we were fortunate to have a very very very good and devoted English teacher: Gavira…. he came the first day to class and promised us we will learn American English, he taught us in American English, to pronounce correctly (not separating one word from another, trying to speak not thinking in Spanish and using proper English) and a big bunch of activities (listening songs, mocking conversations between us, reading book extracts in English, etc, etc). He never ever talked to us in Spanish… I can not recall how he pronounces Spanish, at all.

Foreign languages at university: 1992–1997: Fortunately we were not taught Russian!!! But English teachers were not as good as Gavira… I made an initial test and passed those exams in 2 of the 3 semesters of English (I was not required to go to English classes)… the last teacher lost my exam and I was forced to attend. 50% or more of our textbooks were in English (Systems Engineer) so we had a daily contact with English (reading mostly).

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