The six-week Summer School, organized by the Russian State University for the Humanities, College of the Holy Cross, Vassar College and Brandeis University, is coming to an end.
In many respects, this has been an experimental project: for the first time the entire program was conducted online, including not only an intensive multi-aspect 20-hour workload, but also the extracurricular weekly work of the Conversation Club. The teachers have contributed to the program many interesting new ideas that have made it not only informative, but also entertaining.
Travel as a way of getting to know the world around us, which became temporarily unavailable due to the pandemic conditions, has been used in the program as one of the main techniques connecting all aspects of the Russian language and culture.
Thus, the work on pronunciation and intonation (Dr. Trufanova) included recording the voice-over for the series “Multi Russia” by students. The series is dedicated to various cities and regions of Russia. The class of communicative grammar (Dr. Nazarova) acquired the form of a preparation for the Russian-American expedition under the leadership of Ilon Mask to Mars: the teams mastered the elements of communication and the grammatical means necessary for the crew members to work together and communicate with the Martians.
This project included a meeting held between the students and a NASA aerospace engineer Kenneth Smith PDF. The class of Russian literature (Dr. Bogacheva) was devoted to small-scale literary works: poems, fairy tales, short stories, representing a journey into the history of Russian culture. In order to discuss contemporary socio-cultural and international issues, special handout materials were prepared for the class “Language of the Media” (Dr. Kameneva).
The program of the Conversation Club (Dr. Tsarev) included virtual walks around Moscow, tours of the Tretyakov Gallery (Dr. Trufanova), trips to Russian cities with the participation of Russian students - residents of these cities, in particular Vladivostok, meetings and conversations with interesting people, for instance, with an employee of the Main Road Post company, which makes CGI for Russian films, an employee of the Lenkom Theater, etc.
As the experience of this Summer School shows, the online format contains various potential opportunities for arousing interest and enhancing motivation for foreigners studying Russian language and culture, as evidenced, in particular, by the reviews of some participants of the RSUH Summer School-2020 (College of the Holy Cross, USA).(США) – 2020.
After a month of virtual study of Russian as a second language through RGGU, I can confidently say that my Russian has improved greatly this summer. I was quite skeptical when beginning the course about the effectiveness of the online medium in learning a foreign language. Though there is certainly no replacing immersion in Russia as the best way to learn the language, I would be hard pressed to imagine a better alternative (given the current circumstances) than the RGGU courses I have been privileged to take online.