‘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.
Launched in 2015, the HSE Preparatory Year programme is a comprehensive course that includes an intensive course of Russian, which helps prepare for study in Russian-taught degree programmes offered by HSE or other Russian universities. The programme offers tracks in economics, humanities, and engineering.
This year’s Preparatory Year students came from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and North America, with the top 10 countries represented being Syria, China, Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Venezuela, Indonesia, and El Salvador. The number of students has doubled since last year, and the number of students planning to continue their studies in HSE’s degree programmes has grown nearly threefold. As a result of this year’s selection, 66 graduates were recommended to continue studies at state-financed or fee-paying slots in both Russian- and English-taught graduate programmes at HSE.
Irina Isaeva, head of the Preparatory Year programme, says, ‘Next year, we will enrol 150 students in state-funded slots of the Prep Year, and increase the share of international students who study for a fee. Next year’s curriculum will have more class hours of Russian as a foreign language, which will help more students achieve the first certification level of Russian after they complete the programme’.
Elena Shumanskaya, teacher, School of Linguistics
This year, most of my students were from Indonesia. They liked that we were talking all the time, and as a result, they can speak, write, and understand Russian very well. Learning any language is hard work; you have to study and remember the words. The students were interested in learning the language. On the one hand, they felt inspired to do so, but on the other hand, they were results-oriented. This group had a great team spirit. For example, a student from Indonesia sat next to a student from China and explained the words he had to learn and what text to read. She helped him and explained what to do. This was happening throughout the year, it was very touching.
You have to like a language in order to learn it successfully. I believe that teaching should take into account students’ knowledge and personalities. The teacher should know what their students’ interests are. And before learning Russian, it’s essential to learn about Russia and to love it, to get to know more about the people and the traditions here. Without knowing Russian culture, it’s impossible to like and understand this country, and to study here.
Aiman Abdel Aziz, student from Sudan
I chose Russia because HSE has a really great faculty of international relations. Academics here are strong; it’s one of the best countries to study in this field. I chose HSE because the university is known around the world. And there are a lot of international students here. I really like the preparatory course. My Russian has improved a lot since I came here. In addition to Russian, I studied social studies, history, geography and literature. At the beginning, I found Russian literature a bit difficult, but as time passed, it became easier. During our literature course we studied War and Peace, Alexander Pushkin’s poemsand many other Russian poems.
This was my first time in Russia, but I wouldn’t say I’ve encountered much difficulty here - except for the beginning, when you start to learn Russian and you are not able to communicate. But living here is very nice, people are kind and Russia is a great country to live in. I’ve done sightseeing in Moscow, and now I want to travel outside Moscow. In the summer, I’m going home, and in September, I’m planning to return here. Those who plan to study Russian should study hard and practice a lot with native speakers, and make as many Russian friends as they can to practice the language. Practicing is key to success.
Dina Natasha, student from Indonesia
I heard about the Higher School of Economics from my friend. He said that this university is very good and internationally-oriented. I came here to study in the Preparatory Year programme. It’s really nice to be here, because the staff always helps us if we have problems or desires. If I was unable to speak Russian fluently, they would speak English, and everything would be fine. I lived in a dormitory, and I could find all the information about it with photos on the HSE website, which is very thorough.
I studied Russian and mathematics. I also really liked social studies, because the teacher was very friendly. He spoke English and Russian, so I could understand everything well. I also liked the course in Russian culture, history, and literature, because our teacher always took us to some beautiful museums. We visited the Tolstoy National Museum, the Pushkin Museum, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Kremlin, and some other places. I really liked Tsaritsyno – a wonderful place.
I plan to continue my studies at HSE in the Sociology of the Public Sphere and Social Communications Master’s programme, which is taught in Russian. I still have to improve my Russian, because there are a lot of complicated terms in sociology.
Alex Haul, student from Syria
I decided to come to HSE to study Russian, because I want to study later at a medical school or engineering faculty. Many of my family members, who are doctors and engineers, have studied in Russia. They give me a lot of good advice. I like Russia, and I like Moscow the most.
During the preparatory year, I studied mathematics, physics, history, geography, and informatics. It was really a lot of information that provides a lot of support for the future. Geography and history were difficult in the beginning, but with the help of libraries, friends and family I’ve progressed a lot. My Russian is very good now. Everyone finds it challenging in the beginning, but now I can speak Russian very well. My favourite subject was informatics. I have quite a few certificates from my country in English and informatics, and I learned a lot here about coding and how to use the numbers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
'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.
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.
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.
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.