‘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.
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 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.
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.