Learning to Speak and Write in Russian
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.
According to Ekaterina Kornakova, who teaches at the Preparatory Year programme, this adaptation process can take several months.
‘After the classes, the teachers often help the students find their way around the city’, Ekaterina Kornakova said, ‘We explain where they can buy books or warm clothes. This is fine, since the teacher is not only an educator for them, but also their first friend in this unfamiliar country. It’s also important to understand that the students often experience some form of culture shock in the new country and need help in emotional adaptation. For this purpose, we arrange various extracurricular activities, such as the National Cuisine Festival, a New Year Party, events on Valentine’s Day, February 23rd (Men’s Day), and March 8th (Women’s Day), as well as trips to museums and exhibitions’.
The programme is very good, and we take useful classes at HSE, such as maths. Since the teachers are very welcoming and approachable, they make us love our studies
This year’s students already feel quite comfortable in Moscow. Aboud Mohammad from Syria noted: ‘People here are very friendly and kind, and I feel comfortable with them. My friends in the dormitory help me if I have any problems with the language and I try to improve by reading more. The programme is very good, and we take useful classes at HSE, such as maths. Since the teachers are very welcoming and approachable, they make us love our studies’.
Bayu Wicaksono, from Indonesia, agrees, saying that 'HSE understands how to welcome their international students as new family members. Who thought Russia was stiff and sinister? Russia is even more romantic than a TV series. It's magnificent and so much fun! There are many things that helped me, in particular the Preparatory Year administrative staff, teachers, dormitories administrator, and HSE students. So, language and cultural differences are not an issue if we are willing to learn and open ourselves to new experiences. It's all just a matter of time.'
Ekaterina Kornakova also emphasized the high motivation among this year’s students, who are willing and working hard to learn Russian to continue studying at HSE.
‘I love working with non-Russian speakers’, Ekaterina continued, ‘because when we practice Russian we discuss traditions of their home countries and families, talk about similarities and differences between their native languages and Russian. I’m thrilled by this, and so are the students. I personally learn a lot from teaching Russian to a multi-language audience, including English speakers, Spanish speakers, and people who don’t speak any widely-known European language at all. I choose an individual approach to each student during the whole course, so that they achieve the best results.’
Even though HSE is a young university, it is constantly developing in many ways. I thought it would be a great honour to study at HSE as I could have unique experiences at this ever-changing young university
Student from Japan
Kanami Tobe, a student from Japan, articulated the reasons why she decided to come to Moscow and HSE: ‘Even though HSE is a young university, the university is constantly developing in many ways. I see massive potential in such a radical university. And I thought it would be a great honour to study at HSE, and I could have unique experiences at this ever-changing young university.’ For Bayu Wicaksono the main motivation was the opportunity to mingle with other cultures: 'HSE is considered as one of the best Russian universities with many foreign students, a campus with a great many cultures, which enriches each student. It is surely a great experience and unforgettable lifetime.'
Kanami Tobe was pleasantly surprised by the conditions at the dormitory: ‘Contrary to my expectations, all the HSE’s buildings are in very good condition. Before I came here, I heard many students in Russia complain about the conditions where they live and study. I was pleasantly surprised with the living arrangements at HSE dormitory. I am extremely grateful to be able to study in this wonderful environment.’ She is doing her best to learn Russian, and is also quite confident in communication. Kanami doesn’t have any problems with finding her way around the city. High-quality education and mastering the Russian language are her immediate priorities.
HSE is considered as one of the best Russian universities with many foreign students, a campus with a great many cultures, which enriches each student. It is surely a great experience and unforgettable lifetime
Student from Indonesia
Bayu is also currently focusing on language learning. 'I did a personal evaluation of how much I can understand of what people are saying and whether I am able to answer them, either in the store, metro, or in any other public place without a dictionary or translator. Apart from that, I am also evaluated through periodic examinations carried out by the university.'
Elena Shumanskaya, teacher of Russian as a foreign language, shares the students’ attitude: ‘Over a short time, students have to prepare for exams in reading, listening, speaking, and writing. I would describe this year’s students as highly motivated individuals. Russian is not the easiest language to learn, but my students take their preparation seriously and enjoy it. This subject inspires them. Speaking about changes in our course, digital learning is obviously a big thing in modern life, and I believe that our Institute’s staff will develop such a course in the near future, which will help to improve our students’ achievements’.
Prepared by Anna Chernyakhovskaya for HSE News Service
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Student from Syria