Measures of the Sochi Citizens to Raise English Proficiency in Hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics

Citizens United to Raise English Proficiency! Sochi's Plan on Welcoming the Olympic Games

October 24, 2014

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English Translation

Sochi was the center of much global attention as the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. In welcoming the global event, citizens of the city united to better prepare for the Games.

A particularly key aspect among the numerous policies was to heighten English skills of the citizens. Today, we will look at what the Sochi government did to raise its people's English skills, and at the roles of interpreters and translators in the Olympics.

Measures Geared Toward Raising English Proficiency of Citizens

For the Sochi Olympics, as many as 25,000 volunteers were hired from nationwide Russia who received trainings to raise their English proficiency levels. The city held free English lessons for its citizens, displayed English terms and phrases on screens hung on buildings of the city, and made many other efforts to heighten basic English skills of its people.

Screens set at numerous parts of the city offered Sochi residents at least five opportunities a day to come in contact with English, which allowed citizens to learn English unconsciously. The city also worked on heightening English proficiency of police officers, to ensure that the Games would run safely.

What Sochi's English Education Aimed for

Olga N. Medvedeva, Head of Department for Education and Science of Sochi City Administration, says that the purpose of such English education was not to make citizens speak English fluently but rather to have many people find interest in learning the language and to develop the desire to communicate warmly with foreign tourists. Medvedeva says that as a result of such efforts, the Sochi citizen's hospitality on foreign tourists has shown drastic changes compared to that of several years ago.

The Role of Interpreters and Translators in the Olympics

For the 2012 Summer Olympic Games at London, it was estimated that foreign tourists would bring London economic effects as high as 25 billion dollars. In achieving such an enormous economic effect, it goes without saying that interpreters and translators had played crucial roles in bridging tourists who did not understand English and the local people.

Even in multilingual London, troubles associated with communication were inevitable. An Arabic phrase translated erroneously by a machine offended a Middle East representative, and a gymnast from Uzbekistan who could not find an interpreter was unable to answer questions that came in English.

It was natural that the latest Sochi Olympics had also expected many interpreters and translators to play key roles in the smooth operation of the Games.


The Sochi Olympics, as had other Olympics of the past, had gathered athletes and tourists from around the world as they represented their nations and culture. We can assume that they had been welcomed warmly by the local people's hospitality called language proficiency. Japan could also learn from these efforts as it hosts the Tokyo Olympics six years from now.

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