Baikal State University

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23 August 2023

Irkutsk- Manchuria: The Language of Friendship

For the first time in three years since the pandemic, a delegation of Baikal State University teachers, headed by Dean of the International Department Anna Litovkina, visited the Manchuria Institute of Russian Language - the main partner university of Baikal State University, which implements a dual degree program in Russian as a foreign language. The city of Manchuria (Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China) is located literally on the border, a few kilometers from Zabaikalsk.

- We resumed in-person testing and held a professional development program for the first time. Since 2016, students who study two years in China and two years at BSU have graduated the BSU International Department. The teachers of the BSU International Department came to Manchuria at the invitation of their Chinese colleagues with two goals. The first was to conduct a professional development program for Chinese Russian language teachers to prepare them for the state certification testing. The second goal is the testing itself. Baikal State University has had a Center for testing citizens of foreign countries in Russian as a foreign language for several years. We actively carry out this work, every year we test graduates of the preparatory faculty, bachelor's degree graduates and those who are going to master's program, - says Anna Litovkina.

According to the Dean of the BSU International Department, the Chinese side is interested in obtaining a state certificate, as it gives a certain advantage when entering Russian universities. However, there is no practice of testing in China. Native speakers of Russian and Russian teachers themselves usually do it. In Russia today there are only 40 language-testing centers, and since Baikal State University has such a center and has such a partner as the Manchurian Institute of Russian Language, Chinese students expressed their desire to be tested for knowledge of Russian language. Especially since Russian is a very popular language in China, as well as Chinese in Russia.

- In 2022, we recruited almost 100 people from Baikal State University to travel to China next year for language training. This is in addition to double degree programs. Students from different divisions of BSU have expressed their desire to consolidate their Chinese language knowledge by going on language internship in a linguistic environment. In addition, Manchuria is a border area, so the Russian language is very widespread there. Besides, there are many Russian tourists there; there is a very serious trade and diplomatic exchange. Therefore, everyone tries to speak Russian, - said Anna Litovkina.

Baikal State University has several programs, where the curriculum suggests studying a second foreign language as an elective: "International Journalism", "World Economy", "Tourism". Those who do not want to, study only English. However, the number of those who have chosen a second foreign language increases every year. Moreover, the number of those who want to study Chinese is growing every year. Now almost a hundred students of different courses will be glad to go to China for an annual or semester internship.

The internship is expected at not only the Manchurian Institute of Russian Language, but also at other Chinese universities, such as Zhongnan University of Economics and Law (Wuhan city), Jilin University of Economics and Finance (Changchun), Harbin State University of Commerce, Shenyang Polytechnic University, Beijing University of Foreign Economics and Trade, Anshan Pedagogical University.

Professors of the BSU International Department held advanced training courses in China for Chinese teachers so that they themselves could prepare their students for testing in Russian as a foreign language. BSU teachers who are certified test-takers are ready to test such students. Not every university can conduct such testing; the head-testing center is the Patrice Lumumba Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, which issues certificates.

- Our Chinese colleagues were surprised at how well developed the teaching system and additional services for teaching Russian at BSU are. When entering a Russian university or getting a job, a foreign citizen is very interested in providing a Russian state diploma and a certificate confirming the level of Russian language skills," says Anna Litovkina.

Next academic year about 40 students from Manchuria will come to BSU to study. These are the ones studying double degree programs. All of them have successfully passed the testing and are looking forward to meeting Irkutsk and Baikal State University.

The mission of the BSU delegation did not end here. Teachers of the International Faculty made a presentation of Baikal State University, familiarized students and teachers of the Manchurian Institute of Russian Language with the website of Baikal State University, its TV and radio studio and in general with the media center.

- Teachers and students from China were delighted that Baikal State University has in its structure a media center equipped with modern unique equipment. We showed the BSU newspaper, author's TV projects and radio programs prepared by both students and teachers. We listened to several issues of the radio program "The Great and Mighty", which is prepared by the teachers - Russians of the International Faculty and produced by the BSU radio studio. It was very pleasant to see the interest in learning Russian," said Anna Litovkina.

The staff of the BSU International Faculty met with Chinese students who are going to study in Russia. Teachers from Irkutsk told about the infrastructure of Baikal State University, about the fact that the university has a student cultural and leisure center "Artistic", where all students have the opportunity to engage in the university Center for Creativity, in its numerous creative groups: vocal, dance, instrumental, ballroom, art word and other studios.

In China, BSU teachers attended the first graduation concert of the Manchurian Institute of Russian Language. The Communist Party of China (CPC) held the event.

The Chinese side came out with several proposals for cooperation, first, on further development of double degree programs, when a Chinese university sends students to BSU and offers the Irkutsk university to recruit Russian students who are interested in going to Manchuria for two years.

- And let's face it, there is a place to go," emphasized Anna Litovkina. - There is a beautiful campus and all conditions have been created there. Even if you take just a canteen, where one floor is Chinese cuisine and the second floor is completely devoted to European cuisine. That is, for those Russians who are not used to Chinese cuisine, there are all conditions. All payments are electronic; they do not use cash, only cards. It is inexpensive enough. The cost of lunch is within ten yuan, that is about a hundred and twenty rubles, and breakfast is even cheaper. They do not pay anything at all for accommodation, and our students will not pay either. I think it will be a very interesting program, and if the Chinese here study Russian as a foreign language and will be teachers of Russian in the future, we can recruit Russian students for the program "Methods of Teaching Chinese", so that they will be good teachers of Chinese. In addition, this is now an urgent need not only in our region, but also throughout Russia, because the Chinese language is now one of the leading languages in our country, it is in second place after English.

Young people from Kamchatka, Yakutia, Bashkiria, Volgograd, Krasnodar and other regions of Russia choose Baikal State University to study Chinese. The fact that it is cheaper to study Chinese in Irkutsk than in European universities of the country also has an impact. The dual degree programs of Baikal State University are also good because Chinese partner universities offer free places for our students.

Thus, the development of international cooperation of Baikal State University is gaining momentum and forming new prospects for close cooperation with foreign partners. Thanks to the staff of the International Faculty, with the support of BSU Rector Victor Ignatenko, this activity is carried out, develops and gives excellent results.