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Language Policy in Uzbekistan: The adoption of Uzbek language and the Latin alphabet


This paper discusses the language policy and its current place in Uzbek society, focusing on the legal basis that the Uzbek government has created for the mother tongue. The adoption of the Uzbek language as the state language 34 years ago was a prelude to the country’s independence, setting the stage for the emergence of a new generation proficient in their mother tongue while helping clean and enrich the language’s vocabulary.
The scope of the use of this state language remains limited since many prestigious offices still keep documents in Russian, and signs, advertisements, letterheads, receipts, menus, and many other items have yet to be Uzbekized. Another problem is the decline of written literacy in Uzbek among young people, which is associated with the “phased introduction” of the Latin alphabet that led to the circulation of two competing scripts (i.e., Latin and Cyrillic alphabets).

Furthermore, the programs of teaching mother tongue and Uzbek language subjects in primary and secondary schools need serious reform since the state language literacy is low for both Uzbek school graduates and those graduating from Russian-speaking schools. The language literacy of ambassadors and other government personnel must also meet the requirements. More recently, educational reforms are widely taking place across Uzbekistan, including the expansion of foreign language teaching—on top of the state language training—as a way of integrating into the world community.

The authors put forward proposals and recommendations to tackle these challenges: The oral and written literacy of graduates from secondary schools needs to be improved; to this end, reforms are needed in the assessment and testing system, and new types of tests should be adopted in higher education institutions.

A targeted, unified approach based on international standards is required for foreign language teaching. At the same time, a precise evaluation system should be put into place to determine the professional competence of teachers. While ensuring the effectiveness of foreign language training courses and their coherence with the educational process, Uzbek language training should also continue in higher education.


Uzbek language, writing, Cyrillic alphabet, Latin alphabet, official style, service correspondence



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