In the beginning of October Katie Stewart, postgraduate student of Indiana University Bloomington, attended the English language class of PetrSU second-year sociology students.
It was just an ordinary Thursday and the first class was the English language. But for a group of the sociology students this day definitely stood out from the daily routine. This class was attended by a native speaker – an American student. The students were greatly astonished by this meeting and at first were a bit abashed. But she broke the ice by telling us about herself, so eventually they loosened up and were ready to talk to an interesting person.
The reason Katie Stewart has come to Russia is her research. She is a postgraduate student of the Faculty of Political Sciences of Indiana University, a public research university of the USA, situated in Bloomington, Indiana. Katie came to Petrozavodsk State University through the Fulbright Program to devote herself to the research on the problems of national identity. For successful work on her paper, she started learning the great and mighty Russian language three years ago.
Petrozavodsk is not the first city she visited. Katie studied the Russian language in Kazan for three months and though on the whole she has studied the Russian language for about 3 years, now Katie speaks the language fluently. She likes the Russian culture and nature, which is not that different from the nature of her home state of Maryland. Among her favorite dishes she mentions bliny and pelmeny, though she notes that our food lacks spice.
During the lesson Katie was intrigued by the question, what do the Americans really think of the Russians? Katie smiled and said, “Actually, we hardly think about you, in everyday life we seldom bring up Russia. Mostly you can hear about the stereotypes of the President and the Russian style of life forced by the mass media.”
The class was dedicated to health. The students’ teacher, Associate Professor Ekaterina Vasilieva, had prepared challenging tasks that not only helped the students to review the material but also gave them an opportunity to use the information they received during the conversation with the native speaker. The group demonstrated a high level of communicative competence in a foreign language during the role play “Visiting the Doctor”. In the game, the students acted as doctors and patients, who complained of some ailments. Katie was actively involved in the activity and corrected all mistakes.
It was truly an amazing experience for everyone in the class as it is really helpful when one can study with a native speaker. And it is an excellent motivation to perfect one’s language skills.