The Russian language has become more popular in Syria because Russia supports this country. After the decision of Damascus to include the Russian language in the school program as a second foreign language, the Russian language has spread in Syria significantly. The Russian language in Syria Project of the Strategic Initiative Support Fund plays an important role in this process.
As it turned out, Syrian children learn the Russian language very easily. According to the results of examinations in the ninth grade in 2017, 84% of students successfully passed the exam on the subject. Svetlana Rodygina, the teacher of Russian at Damascus University said, "Currently, the Russian language in Syria is in demand more than ever. There is a good motivation to study it. Students, who chose Russian, can continue their studies at the University of Damascus or go to Russia to study the language, considering the fact that already know it. The graduates of the Russian language Department are welcomed in schools. They are guaranteed to be employed. Specialists, who know Russian, are needed in other fields. Russian language gives an access to high-quality education, achievements of scientists, artists, and rich cultural heritage. Learning the Russian language improves the overall development and personal enrichment, career development of specialists in different fields of knowledge."
The authors of the project, which is implemented with the financial support of the RF Ministry of Education, focused their efforts on the development of a set of teaching materials for studying Russian as a foreign language. The set of teaching materials presents related units that can be used by a teacher in his work with pupils and students of different skill levels. It is based on an electronic illustrated dictionary of more than 600 words with the vocabulary on the subject, which is simple to show, but very difficult to explain. The photos reflecting the modern Russian reality were selected for illustrations. There was developed a working program with a lesson plan, examples of tests and the subject matter of an essay, a list of recommended literature. Much attention was paid to the control of the skills developed as a result of training.
On the Eve of 2018, a prepared set of teaching materials was handed over to Damascus University and Al Istiqlal University (Jericho, Palestine), and Rossotrudnichestvo’s representative office in Bethlehem to be used and given to other educational institutions of Syria and Palestine.
The University of Damascus held courses of supplementary professional education for tutors and teachers from Syrian schools in the form of theoretical and practical classes. The methods of teaching Russian as a foreign language and types of speaking activity were studied. Special attention was paid to teaching phonetics of the Russian language, pronunciation methods, and intonation practice. Practical classes included training and role-playing games for teachers with the development and presentation of lessons on a specific topic, practicing phonetic exercises aimed at pronouncing the sounds, which are difficult for Arab students. The main difficulties of learning Russian outside the linguistic environment were analyzed together with the Syrian colleagues.
The Syrian colleagues expressed a great interest in new approaches to teaching Russian as a foreign language, were actively engaged in training, and appreciated its practical value.
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