This short synthetic article deals with cross-motivations for language learning in colonial Turkistan: Whilst a better control of autochthonous populations lied at the core of Russian interest in vernacular languages, access to modernisation was a key aspect of local efforts at learning Russian language. The author deals in particular with the initiative taken in 1906 by General-Governor D. I. Subotich for facilitating the learning of vernacular languages by members of the military and civil administration, with the assistance of specialists of Oriental studies (Likoshin, Ostroumov, Nalivkin. . .), after the failure of the attempts made since the late 1880s. She then develops on the defence of the learning of Russian language by well-known local reformist publicists of the decade between the first revolution of Russia and the beginning of WWI.