By David Gold

English FirstqApril 17 - Sochi 2014 has launched a "Word of the Day" initiative to help citizens in the Black Sea resort to learn English in the build-up to the Winter Olympic and Paralympics.

Some 662 common English words and phrases will appear in public places across the city between yesterday and the start of the Games on February 7, 2014.

The first phrase of the project, "Welcome to Sochi", has been posted at cultural institutions and hospitals in Sochi.

As well as basic phrases such as "hello" and "goodbye", locals will be taught how to give directions in English.

"The project is designed to help people start speaking English and learn the basic phrases necessary for everyday communication," Sochi Education Department head Olga Medvedeva told the Itar-Tass news agency.

Improving the city's language skills, and in particular spoken English, is a key focus for Sochi 2014 organisers over the next 20 months.

Sochi 2014
Organisers are recruiting 25,000 volunteers to work during the Games and with 80 per cent of the workforce expected to come from outside Sochi a proficiency in English will be deemed a key skill.

Along with French, English is one of the two official languages of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but relatively few people in Sochi speak either.

English First (pictured top), a part of the Education First group, is acting as the "language training services" provider for Sochi 2014, having fulfilled the same role for the Seoul 1988 and Beijing 2008 Games.

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