Language law

  • 2000-07-20

I. General questions

1. The rules regulate the level of proficiency in the state language necessary for the performance of professional and employment duties.

2. They do not apply to those who graduated from any of Latvian educational institutions that has Latvian as a teaching language as they have already received certificate of the state language knowledge and several groups of disabled persons.

3. The level of the knowledge of the state language is defined concerning the specifics of the professions and the level of knowledge required for a particular position.

4. Employees of state and municipal institutions, courts and agencies and state and municipal enterprises in which the state or municipality holds the largest share, must know the state language on the level of the categories listed below.

5. Employees of private institutions, organizations and enterprises, as well as self-employed persons who, based on the law or other normative acts, perform certain public functions, or if their activities relate to a legitimate public interest (public safety, health, morals, protection of health, protection of consumer rights and labor rights, workplace safety, supervision by public administration) must know the state language on the level necessary for the performance of their respective functions as stated in the categories listed below.

II. State language proficiency

The level of language proficiency necessary for the performance of the professional and employment duties is divided into three levels - First (lowest) level, Second (medium) level and Third (highest) level.

Each level contains two categories, though only one category for the first two levels is described below. The list of jobs included in each category is drawn from an appendix to the regulations.

Category A of the first level. A minimum vocabulary of 1,000-1,500 words. A person is capable to converse about the simplest every day topics and can read and understand short prose texts, advertisements and announcements. A person is capable to write personal data.

This category is required for manual laborers such as building workers, packers, sorters, loaders, dockers, shoe cleaners, window washers, pressers.

Category A of the second level. Minimum vocabulary of 2,000-2,500 words. A person is capable to engage in simple dialogues about everyday and professional topics, can read and understand simple content texts. A person is capable to write typical documents, applications, warrants, acts as well as simple texts about everyday life and professional topics.

This category is required of employees whose professional duties are connected with service provision, retail and order taking and include communication with clients. These include transport, public catering and post office workers, decorators, musicians, actors and mechanics, laboratory assistants and others.

Category A of the third level. Minimum vocabulary of 3,000-3,500 words. A person can freely converse about different topics, argue, express one's opinion and views and can read and understand the texts of different levels of complication and content. A person is capable to write documents connected with the institution's or enterprise's administration, decisions, contracts, statutes, position descriptions, and other papers.

This category is required from those whose work is connected with an institution's, organization's or enterprise's work administration, and who make frequent contacts with society. Also, the highly qualified specialists in the fields of the natural and technical sciences (chemists, biologists, ecologists, architects, computer scientists), medicine and social care workers, from whom the safety, health and welfare of the general public depends. Others include directors, deputy directors, heads of divisions of the institutions, organizations and enterprises, dispatchers, pilots, captains, brokers, pharmacists, dentists, journalists, reporters, archive and library workers, policemen and security administrators.

Category B of the third level. A person is capable of communicating completely freely in the second language equally to a native speaker. Is capable to write the texts of different complicacy.

This category is required for employees whose professional duties are connected with the state policy determination and formulation, lawmaking and regulations, government policies implementation. It also includes workers of the higher qualification in the fields of social care and humanities and workers whose professional duties are connected with document processing and accounting. They include: lawmakers, the state's highest officials, higher education institution chairmen and faculty, professors, researchers and science specialists, the teachers of Latvian language, interpreters and translators, editors, proofreaders, secretaries, accountants, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, criminal investigators and others.

III. A description of the testing process

The examination committee will evaluate a person's ability to converse about professional questions, read and understand unfamiliar text and write about an assigned topic.

Within the test time a person cannot use dictionaries or manuals. If a person violates the test order rules, refuses to answer a question or fails to complete the test, he or she must wait two months for reexamination.

The exam begins with a six- to seven-minute-long speaking examination to determine the appropriate language proficiency level. Then the person receives an individual writing exercise and text to read to evaluate his or her reading and text comprehension. That segment lasts 30 minutes.

A person will receive the results of the state language proficiency exam within three days after the test. If the certificate is lost a duplicate will not be issued. Complaints about the proficiency evaluation can be submitted within 10 days after the test occurred.