Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Ekaterina Protassova (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Educational Boom and Second Language Teaching for Pre-Primary Children

The Russian middle and upper classes are investing into education of their children. It is a pedagogical bang: e.g., ten thousand parents simultaneously visiting lectures during one-day pedagogical forum in Moscow, blossoming toy and children book industries, events at shops for children, clubs and start-ups for children edutainment. Since the parents have learned that the early start in the foreign language teaching brings certain benefits, it became fashionable to let children learn a second language, especially if it is a foreign language. On the other hand, the glamour of the Tsarist times has been revived, so, everyone imagines himself or herself as being part of the well-educated aristocracy, which meant foreign language skills. The teaching methods differ from the ways in which language is taught abroad. Before, most of the contents of the foreign language teaching materials referred to the life in the Soviet Union; now, they mention the New Year and the Day of Victory. Before, from life abroad, only old texts could be taken or those connected with the fight of the working classes for their rights; now, they must reflect the Russian spiritual values. The specific Russian approach underlines the use of the mother tongue in the study of foreign languages. The professors of children’s literature and foreign language teaching fight against texts created abroad, because these texts might implement a foe mentality and therefore influence the developing patriotic sentiments of the children. At the same time, minority languages of Russia are not supported enough and become lost, although there are initiatives to revitalize languages all over Russia. The paper will consider the ways and methods of second language teaching in Russia with examples from situations where English, Fenno-Ugric, Turkic, Chinese, and some small languages of Russia are involved. The results come from collaboration of the author with educators from different regions of Russia.