SPbU helps to promote teaching of the Russian language in Syria

St Petersburg University supported by the Ministry of Education of Syria held, together with the Russian Center of Damascus University, an intensive course on current issues and innovative technologies for teaching Russian as a foreign language for Syrian teachers.

The Popularity of Testing in the Russian Language Has Grown By 30%

According to Dmitry Ptyushkin, Director of the Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University, learning of the Russian language has become widespread in Syria at various levels of education — it is in demand as a second foreign language both in schools and universities. For a long time it was not possible to organise training activities for teachers, therefore nowadays the demand for speaking practices, workshops, courses and advanced training has increased. ‘SPbU promotes the Russian language in many countries, but until recently, we have been taking small steps on dissemination and popularization of the Russian language in Syria, and now we are planning to change it. Prospective students from Syria are highly interested in entering the University, but the quality of teaching the Russian language does not allow them to learn the language at such a level that they can enrol at University right after graduating from high school instead of studying at preparatory courses. It is our mission to build broader community of teachers of Russian as a foreign language (RFL), who will be able to gain knowledge in the area of their interest, whenever they need.’

37 teachers from different cities of the Syrian Arab Republic took part in the two-day intensive course on teaching of RFL. The course was held in a mixed format: Syrian russianists met in Damascus and Latakia to watch on the big screen reports of SPbU specialists in Russian philology presented remotely. Several times during the course there were power outages in the cities, that is why SPbU specialists had to restart the broadcast and help colleagues to reconnect.

The digital age has spoiled us a little, many people believe that online education is simple and easy. We find it hard to believe that there are regions in the world where people struggle power outages three times a day, or where, like in Africa, there is no Internet at all during the rainfall season. This inevitably leads to the fact that if we want to be represented in these countries, we must think about opening a representative office of St Petersburg University or an office with a library, providing necessary opportunities for studying.

Dmitry Ptyushkin, Director of the Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University

According to the Director of the Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University, by providing conditions for learning in Russian St Petersburg University will strengthen its position in foreign countries. One of the first steps in this direction was writing together with Syrian colleagues a Russian Language Textbook for Basic Level, aimed at Arabic-speaking students. The release of the book is scheduled for the near future.

The intensive course on teaching of RFL was given positive reviews from the Syrian teachers. They noted that had received exactly the information that they needed for practical work. Representatives of the Russian Center of Damascus University also highly appreciated the intensive course. Moreover, they plan to invite St Petersburg University experts to hold a new seminar with the support of the Ministry of Education of Syria in July this year. ‘To promote the Russian language abroad it is crucial to be flexible, look for new markets and implement modern teaching methods, then this work will certainly bear results,’ Dmitry Ptyushkin concluded. ‘We start working in Syria, and although the scale of our activities is limited, I am sure that within a year we will see the first results of our work and reap the benefits of it.’