From Pelevin to Computational Linguistics — Learning Russian on HSE’s Pre-University programme
Asher Bryant has been studying at the HSE Faculty of Pre-University Training course. Asher finished her education at Schoolcraft College in Michigan in 2005 and decided she wanted to learn Russian. She told HSE English News about her impressions of the course and how her desire to learn Russian has led her in unexpected directions.
When I was still in the USA, a friend of mine suggested I read Pelevin's Omon Ra. Up until that point, I didn't enjoy reading fiction, but that soon changed as I continued to read other Russian authors. I decided that I wanted to read Russian novels in the original. So when I enrolled in the programme I actually wasn't too seriously considering going on to a degree programme at HSE; I was just looking for an intensive Russian language programme at an institution with a good reputation. HSE fit the bill.
If I were to describe the programme, I would say that it's very intensive with top-notch instruction. I chose it because I was just looking for an intensive Russian language programme at an institution with a good reputation. When I enrolled in the programme I actually wasn't too seriously considering going on to a degree programme at HSE. But it suited me well. The aim of the programme is to give students a solid foundation in grammar and prepare them to pass entrance exams and in that we were well prepared.
For me, the most challenging thing was balancing intensive studies with work. There was very little time (or energy) left for me to socialize, which I think is essential in order to fully develop language skills, by applying what you've learned in class outside of the classroom. So as far as colloquial language and conversation are concerned, I still feel like there's a lot of room for improvement. Having said that, I did quickly start to feel like Moscow was home, despite the linguistic and cultural barriers that I ran into. Moscow is both a beautiful and unusual place. In addition, the students and staff at HSE are very willing to help you with whatever troubles you may have. I hadn’t intended to stay but, in the end, I am happy to say, I did apply to a degree course at HSE and was accepted into the bachelor's programme in Fundamental and Computational Linguistics. I am really looking forward to spending the next few years here.
The HSE Preparatory Year for Bachelor’s programmes includes courses in four subjects according to the chosen profile (1,152 contact hours) and helps students prepare for entrance exams at HSE. The training lasts 32 weeks, with two terms of 16 weeks.
The programme begins with Russian language training courses. Students then begin to study in Russian in their specific subject areas.
On November 15, international student admissions for undergraduate and Master’s programmes opened. This year, prospective students can apply to two programmes simultaneously. They’ll be able to track the application process online in their personal profile on the HSE website where they will receive notifications on the stages of their application’s review and decisions by the admissions committee. The documents for visa invitation can also be submitted there.
For Sebastian Billy Anggara, a 20-year-old student from Kediri, Indonesia, coming to HSE to study has been like a dream come true. After learning about HSE from his older brother, who is studying international relations in the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, he decided to apply to the Faculty of Communications, Media and Design to do a Bachelor’s in Advertising and Public Relations. Since the programme is taught in Russian, he will first study at HSE’s Preparatory Year to master the language.
‘Everyone Finds It Challenging in the Beginning, but I’ve Progressed a Lot, and Now I Can Speak Russian Very Well’
On July 21, 2017, the graduation ceremony for the Preparatory Year programme was held. During the ceremony, more than 170 students from 40 countries received their diplomas, which will enable them to continue their studies in Russia.
Fifteen American students have come to HSE to study Russian as a foreign language as part of ‘USA in Russia’ study abroad programme developed by the University of South Alabama in partnership with HSE since 2014. Every other year, Nicholas Gossett, Assistant Professor of Russian and Applied Linguistics, brings a group of students to Moscow to study the Russian language as well as attend lectures and seminars on Russian culture, history, business, and other subjects. The goal is for students to not only improve their knowledge of the Russian language but to also make life-long connections in Russia which will help them in the academic, professional, and personal life.
HSE’s Preparatory Year trains international students with little or no knowledge of Russian before they begin Russian-taught full-degree programs. Over 10 months of intensive study, students improve their language skills (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), study in a chosen academic field (humanities, economics, or engineering), and adapt to the new educational environment. Upon completing the Preparatory Year, students are expected to possess intermediate-level Russian language skills and be ready to enter Russian-taught full-degree programmes at HSE and other Russian universities.
HSE’s Faculty of Humanities is launching a new Master’s programme on teaching Russian as a foreign language. Olga Eremina, Academic Director of the programme, told the HSE News Service why the programme will be taught in two languages and who ‘heritage language learners’ are, as well as why the labour market for the programme’s graduates will be expanding.
A project led by a group of HSE students and alumni called The Language of Generations has won a competition held by the Vladimir Potanin Foundation that is designed to recognize projects with social significance. The idea behind the project is to introduce foreign students of Russian to senior citizens from Russia. As a result, students will gain additional language practice, and older people will have the opportunity for additional communication.
This summer, over 100 international students attended the Summer University at HSE. Of all the courses offered by the programme, Russian as a foreign language is especially popular, with more than 50 students enrolling. Maria Shilankova, RFL teacher, and Oksana Chernenko, Director of the Summer University, spoke with HSE News Service about the educational process and the students’ achievements.
On July 5, the application window closed for international students who made it through the selection process for state-funded spots at the Higher School of Economics. Those students who were not selected are still able to apply to the university for tuition-paying spots, or can enrol in the university’s Preparatory Year programme.
On June 27, the first cohort of HSE Preparatory Year graduates received their diplomas after passing the exams. Launched in 2015, the programme offers international students an excellent opportunity to develop their Russian language skills and prepare for Russian-taught programmes at HSE and other Russian universities. This year, approximately 90 people from over 30 countries studied in the programme, which included several tracks – economics, humanities and science.