International Students Ready to Study in Russian
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.
Irina Isaeva, deputy dean of the HSE Faculty of Pre-university Training, says that although there have been some growing pains, the programme overall has been an immense success. ‘Everyone involved worked really hard to create a welcoming atmosphere for international students who were faced with a daunting task of learning a foreign language in a completely new environment. We always strived to offer them advice and help. Several of the graduates have already been accepted to HSE’s degree programmes and have received government scholarships’.
The first six months of the programme focused specifically on intensive training in Russian as a Foreign Language. By the end of the academic year, participants who came to Moscow last fall with absolutely no knowledge of the language were able to give speeches and read poems, all in Russian, at the graduation ceremony. In addition to working on their Russian language skills, students also took courses in the History, Culture and Geography of Russia, which greatly helped them better understand the country and its people. In the second half of the year, specialist courses were offered, such as Social Studies, Literature, Physics, Mathematics, and IT; all of them were conducted in Russian.
Student success in the programme was largely due to the professionalism and dedication of their teachers, notes Dariya Makrushina, head of the programme. ‘We have very enthusiastic teachers who have successfully built rapport with the students. A lot of extracurricular events were organized during the year. For instance, it turned out that our Congolese students had never been to a planetarium, so their teacher organized a tour to the Moscow Planetarium for them. There were also various traditional holiday celebrations – national cuisine day, Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, Army Day. It was all very important for bringing students together and educating them about Russian culture’.
Next year, enrolment is expected to increase to around 150 people who will receive full-tuition scholarships from the Russian government. It is also possible to enter the programme on a fee-paying basis. Applications are accepted until August 15, 2016.
Jazmin Quevedo Cascante, Bolivia
This was a really good programme. I’m really impressed by how much we’ve advanced. I’m really thankful for the teacher that we had – she was one of the best teachers. If she had time she would have stayed longer to teach us more. I didn’t expect Russian to be this hard to study. You can learn how to write, how to use every preposition or the instrumental case, for example, but practice is key. I’m really thankful to HSE; it’s the second time the university had this type of course, and I think they went really well.
I’m planning to study here at HSE. I’ve been accepted to the Master’ programme in Governance of Science, Technology and Innovation. I’m really happy, as I didn’t want to leave HSE because I feel really comfortable here and the people are really nice. My classes start in September, and until then, I would like to travel around Russia to see other cities. Although Moscow is beautiful, I would like to see Saint Petersburg and Kazan, so maybe I will travel to those places. And then I would like to spend August studying before I start my Master’s degree. I’m really excited to be here.
Patricio Muera Kota, Equatorial Guinea
I was very glad to have spent this year in Russia, as I am convinced that it is a great country. I’ve chosen Oil and Gas as my field of study, an area in which Russia holds a strong position. I intend to continue my studies at Russian State Geological Prospecting University. My classes will be in Russian, so it was important for me to learn the language. I came to Moscow knowing no Russian at all and can now speak to people, not very fluently of course, but I am working on it. The thing that was difficult for me during this year is the climate – I didn’t think it would be so cold in winter! Dealing with it was a real challenge. But still, I was happy in Moscow. I enjoyed sightseeing – Red Square is my favourite place – and visiting museums. I liked studying the language – it has enabled me to talk to people, which is very interesting. Other subjects were also exciting, such as History, Geography, and Culture.
Magaly Abigail Castro Bruno, El Salvador
I really liked everything because this programme was a place where I could find friends, and they were very kind to me. The programme is very well adapted for foreign students. I studied Russian, and for the first six months it was very intensive. We spent about six hours in class every day four days a week. I lived with Russians so I could practice the language. The most difficult thing in Russian is the grammar, especially noun cases. Other things weren’t so difficult.
When I was applying for scholarships in my country, I looked for information on the best universities. I found HSE and I really liked it, as it has a lot of partnerships with other countries and universities. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to stay here. I am currently working to get my Bachelor’s degree in economics. I hope to get a Master’s degree here at HSE. I really liked that the programme’s organizers exposed us to Russian culture. We took part in some excursions around Moscow and received a lot of information. We didn’t just have classes in Russian; we also learned about history, which was very useful.
‘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 November 25, the HSE Preparatory Year programme held a special welcome meeting for its new students. The aim of the event is to better acquaint them with HSE and the educational programmes it offers.
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.
Juan Sota is from Madrid. He finished school in Spain and came to Russia to study at the Pre-University Training Faculty hoping to progress to a degree course at the School of History at HSE.