125 international students study Russian in TSU online courses

The TSU Pre-courses Department has started teaching Russian language and specialized disciplines to international students online. Although not a single student was able to come to Tomsk due to the epidemiological situation, 125 students from the far abroad are currently studying in 11 groups. These are future bachelor’s, master’s, and graduate students. Classes for them are taught by teachers of Russian as a foreign language.

Courses are planned through June, but they will be extended if necessary. At the end of the program, students will pass a compulsory test in the Russian language and entrance examinations in specialized subjects for admission to TSU or another university in Russia.

-Since March of the last academic year, the Pre-courses Department has been working online. This did not prevent international students from completing the courses, and most of them entered TSU for basic educational programs. In the new academic year, because of the epidemiological situation, courses are also held online, – said Daria Tarakanova, the head of the Pre-courses Department

So, on September 1, a program for two groups of Chinese students who are in their homeland was launched. For a month they completed an adaptation course, and they are now closely engaged in preparing for admission to the university.

On October 1, TSU began the main course of the Russian language, where the geography of the students is much wider: residents of Ghana, Indonesia, Morocco, Chad, Peru, Mongolia, China, Laos, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Ecuador, Algeria, El Salvador, Uganda, India, and Korea.

– Of course, there is a problem with time zones, but we managed to overcome it. With some countries we have a slight time difference, but with most of China’s regions there is no time difference at all, so teachers can conduct classes during their working day, explains Daria Tarakanova. – But there are countries where the time difference reaches 12 hours. Here we start from conditions that are convenient for the student. Moreover, the schedule issue was personally coordinated with each one. They are very motivated, some even go to class at 7 a.m. The teachers must be ready to meet them halfway: some of them work, as we joke, on the night shift – they start the lesson late in the evening and sometimes finish at midnight.

For the most part, the Internet connection between students and the teachers in Tomsk is stable, the course organizers note. Communication takes place mainly on Zoom; Chinese platforms are also actively used for conducting webinars. Students’ independent work is carried out on Moodle, where teachers of the Pre-courses Department have developed a large course on teaching the Russian language. The course includes three blocks, by language level. Also, teachers use their own MOOC (massive open online course) in the Russian language.

– Offline mode is more familiar for students and teachers who have perfected their work methods for many years. But our teachers very quickly adapted to online, because before that they actively used electronic educational technologies and resources in the lessons, – said Daria Tarakanova. – And when we started working online last year, we found many advantages. First of all, this creates a variety of independent work for students, more opportunities to test knowledge.

Daria Tarakanova emphasizes that the webinars also make it possible to visualize a lot, and use audio and video materials. Plus, there is prompt feedback: the students write in messengers, send voice messages, and talk to teachers, activating all types of speech activity. That is, many additional resources are connected, in contrast to the usual lesson.

Russian language courses are attended by two categories of students: those who study on contracts for paid educational services, and those who study free of charge under the quotas of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. In the future, if they wish, they will be able to enter TSU or any other university in Russia.