Language Education Policy Studies
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Language Education Policies in Uruguay

Uruguay is in the southeastern part of South America, it borders Argentina and Brazil. The population in this country is about 3.22 million, and 1.8 million live in its capital Montevideo. It is geographically the second-smallest nation in South America.The official language of Uruguay is Spanish, while the Spanish spoken in Uruguay has some modifications because of Italian immigrants who speak “cocoliche” which is a mixed language of Spanish and Italian. Main foreign language speaking in Uruguay are English, Portuguese, and Portunol which is a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. Since there are few native people in Uruguay, no indigenous languages are thought to remain in Uruguay.

The foreign language teaching and learning at school changes over time. Since English plays an important role with the globalization, Uruguay’s education policy emphasizes the teaching and learning of English at school. According to Kaiser (2017), in the nineteenth century, schools provided Latin, English and French as foreign languages in 1854, and in 1886, students could choose German, English and French. Kaiser (2017) quotes the summary about the path of foreign language learning in Uruguay’s secondary schools by La Paz Barbarich. In 1941, students learned French for three years in their secondary schools and studied English in the third year, from 1993, English was compulsory for students in secondary schools and became the only foreign language in public schools since 1996. In order to help students learn English earlier and better, the Department of Second and Foreign Languages was created in 2008 to extend class days in elementary schools.

There are two cycles of English learning in Uruguay’s private educational institution, the first one aims for B1 or B2 level proficiency, and the second one “is designed to prepare student to handle the language fluently and confidently in diverse situations” (Kaiser, 2017, p. 7). In order to improve English proficiency, certificates and programs measure students’ English skill, including the Preliminary English Test (PET) and preparation for First Certificate of English (FCE) (Cambridge exam). These methods show the expectations of English proficiency and aim to provide more opportunities for students to improve their abilities.

The “Plan Nacional de Education: 2010-2030” for public schools aims to help students graduated from secondary schools by 2030 to have high proficiency in three languages (Kaiser, 2017). In this sense, improving foreign language ability of students is an important goal for Uruguayan education.


    Behares, Luis Ernesto, Brovetto, Claudia, and Crespi, Leonardo Peluso. "Language Policies in Uruguay and Uruguayan Sign Language (LSU)." Sign Language Studies 12, no. 4 (2012): 519-42.

    Couper, Graeme. "Teacher Cognition of Pronunciation Teaching amongst English Language Teachers in Uruguay." Journal of Second Language Pronunciation 2, no. 1 (2016): 29-55.

    Kaiser, Dj. "English Language Teaching in Uruguay: English Language Teaching in Uruguay." World Englishes, 2017, World Englishes, 10/26/2017.

    Odber De Baubeta, P.A. "Uruguay: Language Situation." In Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics, 275. 2006.


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    Shu Yang. (2018). Uruguay Language Education Policy. In F. V. Tochon (Ed.), Language Education Policy Studies (online). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin—Madison. Retrieved at: (insert link) 

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