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Regular version of the site

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

Aboud Mohammad
Student from Syria

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

Kanami Tobe
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

Bayu Wicaksono
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


See also:

International Students Explore Russian Literature in HSE’s Preparatory Year Programme

HSE’s Preparatory Year Programme for international students includes not only intensive Russian language training but also subject specific courses. One such course is ‘Russian Literature’, which introduces international students to classic works by Russian writers such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov. In the course, students read and discuss select texts in the original Russian, which helps them gain a better understanding of the Russian culture and history.

If You Say So: HSE Launches New Open Access Resource for Studying Russian

Do you have some knowledge of Russian but want to hone your skills and speak like a ‘real Russian’? If so, faculty members and instructors of the HSE School of Linguistics have worked together to create a free online resource just for you. Как скажешь (‘If You Say So’), which will launch April 4, is a virtual textbook and workbook built around video clips that feature HSE faculty and students.

‘Coming Here Has Been a Very Good Opportunity for Me’

HSE Preparatory Year students not only learn Russian and get ready to enroll in Bachelor’s or Master’s programmes but also explore Russian culture and way of life, which includes trying the local cuisine, sightseeing, and interacting with Russian people. Three international Prep Year students have talked to HSE News Service about learning the language, getting used to living in Moscow, and joining in New Year celebrations in Russia.

‘I'll Definitely Be Here for the New Year’

On December 20, the students of the International Preparatory Year programme at HSE’s Moscow campus got together to usher in the New Year in true Russian style. They all first arrived in Moscow this September with zero or very limited knowledge of Russian. So, their programme started with an intensive course of Russian as a Foreign Language. Now, three months later, they have already mastered enough Russian to make mini-presentations, perform sketches, take part in a Russian culture quiz, and solve Russian riddles.

Post-Doctoral Fellow Discusses Research on Soviet-Era Citizenship and Language Policy

Dr Anna Whittington is currently a Research Fellow at The International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences through the end of August 2019. She recently spoke with the HSE News Service about her work on changes in Soviet-era language policy, her thoughts on life in Moscow and how the city has changed, and much more.

Russian Language: 'One Student's Mess is Another Student's Bliss'

'In fact, the Russian language is very logical and my task is to disclose this to my students', says Alevtina Iagodova who has been teaching Russian for over 20 years. At HSE University – St. Petersburg she gives Russian classes to exchange students, organizes a language club, and promotes the Russian culture awareness among foreigners. Recently, she has been invited by the University of Indonesia to lead a workshop in order to share her knowledge and experience of teaching Russian as a foreign language with the local colleagues.

Drawn by Russian Language and Culture, German Student Enrols at HSE

Having fallen in love with Moscow and the Russian culture during an exchange programme three years ago at HSE, Alis Maria Endres, a native of Germany, decided that she wanted to return to the university to complete a Master’s degree in management. In order to be able to study in Russian, Alis Maria first enrolled in HSE's International Preparatory Year programme.

Prep Year Graduates Ready to Make a Start

On July 12, HSE officially congratulated the graduates of the 2018 Preparatory Year programme. The 10-month intensive course, which was introduced at HSE in 2015, is designed for international students with little or no knowledge of Russian who wish to undertake Russian-taught full-degree programmes. The curriculum focuses on basic language skills (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) and students are able to study in their chosen academic field (humanities, economics, or engineering). This year, young graduates from 40 different countries attended the ceremony, where they were congratulated by their teachers, friends and families.

Lecture Series Explores Communicative Supertypes, Russian as a Reality-Oriented Language, and Language & Culture

On March 19 and 22, Per Durst-Andersen, professor in the Department of Management, Society and Communication at Copenhagen Business School, gave three lectures at the Higher School of Economics on topics that fall under his current research interests, which focus largely on cognitive linguistics; communicative and linguistic typology; language, culture and identity; semiotics; and the philosophy of science. A well-known expert in cross-cultural pragmatics and specialist in business communication, Professor Durst-Andersen delivered the lectures as part of the ‘Language in the Universe of Culture: Russian Communicative Style’ course.

Admissions Made Easy for International Students: 2018/2019 Academic Year

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.