International Students Can Learn Russian from Russian Seniors
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.
‘All of us have aging parents and we know first-hand how they sometimes lack attention and opportunities for communication’, says Svetlana Pavshintseva, one of the project’s founders and a second-year student in the Public Administration Master’s programme at HSE. ‘The Language of Generations is a project that should solve the feeling of not being needed that some older Russians experience. To carry out the project, we will create a communication platform where older Russians will be able to communicate with foreign students who are studying Russian. At first, we plan for communication between students and older Russians to take place over Skype. Thanks to our project, older people will have the opportunity to share experiences and knowledge with the younger generation, to feel needed and wanted; in turn, foreign students will be able to practice communicating with native speakers without leaving their country to learn more about Russia’.
'The idea behind the project came from CNA Speaking Exchange, a Brazilian educational project where students communicate through an online service with older Americans in nursing homes in Chicago', says Kirill Golubev, the project's other co-founder and a graduate of the Master's programme in Information Technology and Intellectual Property Law (HSE Faculty of Law). 'We thought, why not implement a similar idea in Russia? But we decided to focus not on nursing homes but rather on non-profit organizations that work with seniors. This decision was largely due to our partnership with a public resource centre in the Republic of Bashkortostan called “My Years - My Wealth”. In the future, we plan to involve NGOs in Moscow and other Russian regions in the project’.
According to Golubev, the project team’s main focus now is to actively involve young foreigners in the project, since there is an agreement in place with the Bashkir resource centre with 100 seniors already having expressed their willingness to communicate with students. While the communication will only take place in Russian for the time being, the founders of the project do not exclude elderly Russians who know English from taking part.
The project has a website, where a video service will soon offer a choice of topics for conversation and a button to communicate with the organizers. ‘We also plan to hold a live presentation for seniors and offer several demonstrational videos. In the future, we want to make control of the communication between foreign students and Russian seniors completely remote. In general, I have a dream that after some time we will launch an online Russian language school where retired former Russian teachers will offer lessons. For older people, this is an additional opportunity to earn money, and for foreigners a chance to study the language with native speakers’, said Golubev.
At the Vladimir Potanin Foundation competition, The Language of Generations won a grant to support its implementation. Earlier it was announced that the project reached the final stage of an Innovation in Education competition, which is held annually by the HSE Institute of Education; the final competition will be held in September.
‘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.
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 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.
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.
HSE’s Preparatory Year at the Faculty of Pre-University Training equips students who have little or no knowledge of Russian language with the necessary skills to enter Russian-taught Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes. Students begin by studying Russian language and then go on to study specific subjects in Russian-taught classes. They receive conditional acceptance to HSE full-degree programmes.