The history of Russian Language training for the students of our university begins from 1946. In that year Moscow (USSR) accepted the first group of foreign students, who were sent to USSR to get the higher education.
First students came from Bulgaria and after them the group from Chechoslovakia and then – a large group from Rumania. All arrived students were divided into their profile^ students for humanitarian directions were accepted by Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU), and students for engineering directions were directed to MPEI. After creation in 1949 the Peoples’ Republic of China and the Germany Democratic Republic the representatives of these countries arrived in Moscow.
At first, the invited teacher worked in RL training with the foreign students, who were mainly from Philological Faculty of MSU. But soon (from 1951) at the Department of Foreign Languages at MPEI the special portion was established, which was headed the first Head of the RL portion Margarita V. GUMILIOVA, This portion existed till 1955, when the Ministry of Higher Education created the independent department of Russian language at MPEI.
Some time Vladimir I. NOSAL’ was a Head of RL department, and after the first official competition Raisa V. ROGOVINA was elected on the post of the RL department head, who became the firs official Head of RL department. She worked as a Head during 17 years. From 1973 Luidmila A. NAUMENKO was a Head of RL department. She worked 23 years. The formation of the teacher team as a constellation of the remarkable professionals is related with her name. In this period, the RL department takes a great reputation in the language experts’ area and became the basic department of the Ministry of Higher Education of the USSR, which arranged the practical experience of the all-country teachers of Russian language as a foreign language (RLFL), the practice of MSU students (where the Division “Russian Language as a Foreign language” was established). L.A. Naumenko travels around the country for consultations of young colleagues of the new departments of Russian language, participates in various inspecting activity of the Ministry. Exactly in this period, the prosperity of the creating activity of teachers of our RL department, publication of a series of textbooks, which were popular in the expert area in those years.
During L.A. Naumenko activity, the effective application of the specific equipments for education was begun. The first language laboratory of TANDBERG company purchased on money, which were earned during fulfillment of the seminar for French trainers in 1972, was perhaps the only equipment of such type of modern technology in all Moscow and it jaundiced of our colleagues.
At 1970-s about 1500 foreign students were trained in Russian language. During this time, the RL department of MPEI was the one of the largest in the former USSR (if to be absolutely precise, it was the fourth after MSU, Leningrad State University and University of Peoples’ Friendship). 46 teachers worked here.
Due to understandable reasons, the RL department has the exact direct relation to training of all MPEI foreign students. In this vast work, which is made by all teachers’ team of our university, there is our contribution. At that, we are speaking not only about Russian language training. Teachers of our department traditionally and actively participate in the MPEI international activity, namely, educational and cultural work with foreign students. Curators of foreign students groups, organizing persons of international parties and friendship weeks, organizers of excursion and cultural programs, all these were as a rule were from MPEI RL department. The youth of RL department, during many years, formed a skeleton of international camps of our university. All our graduates, with a great warm, evaluate our efforts in this field. And at present, after many years, the considerable foreigners come to MPEI from time to time posing at the native country the great and important post to meet their old teachers and speak about their thankfulness. This is a pleasure, of course. Among our graduates there are the Head of State Council of China Li Peng, the President of Romania Ion Iliesku, ministers of energetics of Bulgaria and many others.
When the number of foreign students sharply decreased in MPEI, 20 teachers were saved at RL department. Nevertheless, the work did not interrupted but its character varied.
New forms of work with foreign students began to test and approved in MPEI. In this connection, we cannot to forget about creation in 1991 at MPEI our own preliminary faculty for foreign citizens.
For the sake of truth, we must note that we earlier worked with the new arrived students, however, our activity was limited and concerned to preparation of foreign PhD students, and this is a “piece-goods”.
Beginning from 1986, there are Russian Language courses for all foreigners, wishing in some form to study Russian language. At first, there were annual seminars for the students of several USA universities, which managed to arrange with American Council of Russian Language and Literature Teachers. This program is particularly interesting by the fact that this was the first program in MPEI and, perhaps, in the USSR as it worked on the base of our own contact between Russian university and foreign organization. Simultaneously with MPEI, the similar programs were opened with another university of Moscow, however, contract (finance) relations were typical for the MPEI only. This program also was a pioneer in earning the hard currency that gave to MPEI the academic activity. Today it is common thing, but that time we were a “ground breaker” on the way of academic activity commercialization. On the way of “perestroika”, many American students literarily “threw” tostudy Russian language. From 1986 to 1993, through our arms, more than 300 USA students were passed. As a rule, they were not representatives of technical US universities. Philologists, politologists, biologists, historians, economists – all of them wanted to study Russian language in order that further with its help to find a job in America or in the USSR. Some of them now work in Moscow in different companies. Bu the fashion passed away and the political situation essentially changes. In 1993, American Council of Russian Language and Literature Teachers finished the most of its programs of RL teaching in Moscow.
During 6 years of activity, we not only receive the invaluable experience in organization and performing the similar seminars but earned good money, which allowed to equip the RL department and other divisions of MPEI by modern academic and organizing technique. Evidently, this required essential finance expenses (the only language laboratory of German company ASC, equipped by the audio-video-computer technologies required US$70,000), however, we always actively used at RL departments the modern educational equipment and we always understood that we cannot be stingy in technical educational equipment.
At 1990s students from DUSA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Japan, China, Vietnam, Iran, Ecuador, Peru, Columbia, Brzil ans even from New Zealand were trained at RL seminars. During a series of years, students from Salzburg University (Austria) came to MPEI to study RL. 28 students of this university passed through RL department in different periods and have got the appropriate certificates. We are glad that many of our graduates try to repeat classes. For instance, the trainer from Japan Mr. Seiti Nakanami (experienced and not-young person), the professional interpreter working with different Japanese Companies in Russia during over 30 years, was so satisfied by our work in the field of RL improvement, that he prolonged the contract with MPEI during 8 years. At spring 1998 the seminar for Iowa university (USA) students worked during 6 weeks.
Beginning from 2006, RL department annually performs the great action – the Competition in Russian language for foreign students. From 2009, this Competition is performed in the “open” format. So, besides students of our university, the representatives of eight Moscow universities of non-philology profile participates. Foreign students are compared in poems declamation and singing of Russian authors. This Competition is approved by the great popularity among foreign students of non-philology universities. The participants’ number rises constantly. Competitions continue during all working day in the Great Acting Hall of MPEI at many audience.
At present, in Russian language teaching as a foreign language there are serious alterations. This is, at first, caused by orders of our Ministry issued during last years. By analogy of known test on English language as a foreign language (TOEFL – Teaching of English as a Foreign Language, which is absolutely necessary for any foreigner wishing to study in USA), specialists from Russia developed and approved the test in Russian language as a foreign language (TORFL). Beginning from 1998, testing for foreign students was introduced by our Ministry for foreign students accepting in Russian universities. State testing is performed for all types of foreign students. This test represents multi-level investigation of student knowledge on all types of speech activity. We at RL department perform the testing exams for foreigner wishing to get the Russian citizenship and testing of labor migrants. Testing is the very serious and labor-intensive work which requires much time.
Beginning from 2001, the first group of students from Myanmar Soviet appeared in MPEI. Today it is the most manifold nationals group among all our foreign students. Some times (2004-2011) our students hostel even could not provide their accommodation and a great number of preliminary education group of these student were sent to our branch in Smolensk-city. This required fulfillment of a great work on training of our colleagues from Smolensk including the training course at RL department. We participated actively in establishment in 1999 and further functioning of Russian-Mongolian Institute at Ulanbaatar university (Monglolia), and in 2013 we participated in opening and methodical support of the branch of our university in Dushanbe (Tadjik Republic).
Understanding our place in the total structure of education system (as both for foreign students and Russian students in MPEI), the Russian language department is going to develop further our educational programs, to search new forms and finance base for attraction of young perspective employees and modernization of our work.