Early Foreign Language Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina - a Historical Overview

Selma Kešetović


This article gives a brief historical overview of foreign language education in Bosnia and Herzegovina with special emphasis on primary education. Bosnia and Herzegovina has a long history of teaching foreign languages. Geopolitical changes influenced foreign language policy and, thus, different languages have been taught throughout the history of formal education: Turkish, Arabic, German, French, Russian, English. After the World War 2 Russian was obligatory in primary and secondary schools, and even at the university level. Pupils attending grammar schools learned English, German or French as their second foreign language. However, from the 1980ies this policy changed and pupils had the chance to choose between English and German. Majority of pupils (about 95%) opted for English. Again extra-linguistic factors proved to be decisive for foreign language teaching policy and global status of English resulted in its becoming the first obligatory foreign language in Bosnian formal education in the mid-1990ies. It was first taught from the fifth grade and in secondary schools for all four years followed by German or French as second foreign language. With the introduction of nine-years-long primary school in the 2000s, English is taught from the first grade. Pupils now have the chance to choose between German, French or Turkish in the fifth grade. English and one more language are also taught in secondary schools. English for specific purposes is introduced at tertiary level of education.The state organization additionally complicates the situation with foreign language policy. Thelack of ministry of education at the state level resulted in the fact that two entities and ten cantons regulate foreign language education policy.


Foreign language policy; primary education; English; curriculum; education system; Bosnia and Herzegovina;

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