Multilingual Education in Russia: Balashov and Saratov
Author: Tatyana Lipai and Eugenia Sergeevna
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 12/03/2012
Currently, Russia and Belarus are undergoing significant changes in the political, social and other spheres of society, including increasing social tensions, and a qualitative change in the consciousness of views on education. Ideally, education helps individuals to determine the meaning of life, clarify social roles, and define moral obligations to themselves and others. Education involves not only separation, but also the integration of people according to their professions, accompanying the whole life of man.
For people with higher education, there are more opportunities to apply their knowledge, make effective use of material, and access financial and informational resources. It can be argued that education now has a crucial role in shaping the intellectual potential of society, and achieving a high level of education is a means toward the self-determination of students.
School graduates face a difficult choice: for whom to study? It would seem to be easy. It suffices to look at the ratings and determine what professions are the most relevant, in which area there is the largest wage increase and is now the biggest shortage. However, the labor market is changeable, and the current favorites may become outsiders in the future. For example, in the early to mid-1990s it was fashionable to study to be a lawyer, a designer, a dentist, and etc. And today tens of thousands of experts, including those who received the prestigious diplomas of Moscow State University and MGIMO, cannot find a decent job. The market is overcrowded with graduates, almost without any experience, without knowledge of any foreign languages, and not fully mobile in society, but having pretensions of higher wages.
The harsh and often unpredictable changes in demand for professions are not limited to Russia. The country’s crisis in the early 1990s only highlighted the trends that were observed in all developed countries during the 20th century. Dozens of professions disappeared, in place of which came hundreds of new ones. Consequently, the high competitiveness of graduates in the labor market is a key indicator of the successful activity of high schools.
The pledge of such high competitiveness of the young specialists may be only the high quality of their training. The problem of teaching students practical skills in activities within the classroom, even with the best-known contemporary methodological approaches, cannot be solved in full. The educational methodical association of universities in Russia sees one solution in more efficient use of extracurricular work with the students, especially the study of foreign languages, and different forms of participation in real-world affairs.
During their training, each student should develop an idea of their chosen path, as well as the necessary knowledge, skills, and ability to find their place in life, profession and society. The wrong selection of areas of professional activity leads to frustration, and the possible atrophy of creativity and personality.
Multilingual development of the student contributes to creative and flexible thinking skills and personal growth; this is the real purpose and measure of success for the modern multilingual education corresponding to his personal humane orientation and modern social reference point.
Particular attention in this article is given to foreign language education among students studying management in an economic institute.
Our study addressed the following questions: How interesting are the foreign languages for the future students in regional and provincial universities? And how do they appreciate their own multilingual knowledge in the outlook for their future career? How much time is devoted to study of foreign languages in the curriculum? And how much time do the students spend for independent study?
Research subjects were characterized by social, national, cultural and other indicators, such as sex, age, location, fertility, and migration. The most important indicators for this study were the standard of living, income and expense, their structure and differentiation, cost of living and the consumer basket, the proportion of the population with incomes below the subsistence level, consumption of goods and services. Regions differ in the level of employment and unemployment, the volume of financing of social expenditures of the regional budget. Significant differences in the social development of the regions are reflected in the index of human development, including education.
Our study compared subjects from a district city, Balashov, with those of a regional city, Saratov. According to the results of the study, the main reasons of studying of foreign languages by the management students were identified.
Based on the histogram, we can make following conclusions. First and foremost, it is clear that most students of Balashov study a foreign language to expand their horizons: the 1st year-22%, the 2nd year-30%, the 3d year-24%, and the 4th year-25%. The relatively low numbers are explained by the fact that students of regional cities are not fully aware of the possible benefits that may come with greater knowledge of foreign languages, haven’t had the opportunity to travel, speak to native foreign speakers, or take a part in different international projects. Furthermore, funding for regional higher educational institutions does not allow for international student exchanges.
As for the students of Saratov, we may note that the interest in foreign language is higher. According to the conducted research, students of Saratov more consciously study the foreign language, and see the urgency of foreign language acquisition in the prospect of a future profession: the 1st year-31%, the 2nd year-38%, the 3d year-55%, the 4th year-43%.
Answering the question, “what foreign language is most useful in the management?”, students of Balashov prefer English 71 %, in second place is German 22%, while French was chosen by 2 % of students, and Chinese 5%. In Saratov, 73% of students of management noted the importance of speaking English. 21 % of students gave preference to German and only 6 % thought that Chinese widens one’s prospective in the field of management.
Therefore, the preferred foreign language for students of Saratov and Balashov is English. English will most likely continue to dominate among its European counterparts, while Chinese and Arabic will be interesting for specialists working and having business in these countries.
In accordance with the state educational standards of higher education for a specialization in organizational management, a two years training program with a volume of 280 classroom hours has been developed and designed.
The process of multilingual training ideally involves the combination of classroom and extracurricular work with the aim of promoting creativity and independence in learning foreign languages, expanding horizons and applying an active use of knowledge in the process of intercultural communication. But in practice, the situation is different. First, many students have a weak pre-university training, which leads to poor motivation in the studying of foreign languages, and secondly, not all students realize the importance of multilingualism for their future profession. Respectively, they can’t always relate themselves to the study of foreign languages, to make the time for all the different activities at each stage of learning.
Our empirical study has shown that in a small Russian city the system of the pre-educating for the university preparation of students-managers is not developed with regard to foreign languages. Multilevel trade education of managers remains the unrealized organizational innovation.
On the basis of our research into the state of multilingual education in the modern management sphere, we will set forth recommendations on the intensification of preparation of multilingual specialists:
· to begin the study of foreign languages from preschool age;
· to raise the level of language mastery among graduating students, and on the final state examination;
· to plug the requirement of obligatory study of the second foreign language in curricula;
· to intensify the development and introduction of multilingual elective courses for future managers;
· to activate additional payment services for management students studying foreign languages.
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- On-line tutorial on discipline foreign language // the Educational complex on discipline the «Foreign language» (English) for the students of speciality «Management of organization», Balashov, 2007.
Bio: Tatyana Lipai, Professor of Management and Economics of Education, Minsk, Belarus. firstname.lastname@example.org
Eugenia Sergeevna, Teacher, Municipal budgetary educational establishment, Murmansk area closed administrative territorial district Aleksandrovsk, Snezhnogorsk.