On the 4th of October I had a great opportunity to participate in International Day organized by Lyseon lukio upper secondary school. Many different languages were presented in the International Day programme, and it was very pleasant to realize that the Russian class was popular. The majority of student, who attended it, have never learned Russian before. So I decided to prepare a presentation to interest them in my mother tongue and culture and motivate the students to study Russian in the future.
With the help of Marika Valtonen, who was a contact person from the school, I tried to make an appropriate atmosphere in the class. We decorated the room with Russian newspapers, tourist booklets, well-known Russian souvenir ‘Matryoshka’ and Russian greeting expressions. I also wore a traditional Russian girl’s head-dress called ‘kokoshnik’.
The most amusing point for the students was that they have known many words in Russian even without studying this language. Russian language has been borrowing a lot of words from other languages, but at the same time many Russian words became internationalized. Thus, almost all the students knew what the words ‘vodka’, ‘dacha’, ‘matryoshka’, ‘samovar’ and ‘tsar’ mean.
For many people, who just begin to learn Slavic languages, such as Russian, it always seems very difficult to learn the alphabet. However, many sounds and even some letters are the same and the students had a chance to see it themselves. We asked the students to write their names and names of their friends and relatives using the Cyrillic letters. The students said that they really liked the assignment and they did not expect that transliteration can be so easy.
While the students were doing the assignment, I told them a little bit about Russian cities. We talked about Saint-Petersburg, so-called cultural capital of Russia, which was the most familiar city for Finnish students. Some of them have already visited it, and I hope that others would also like to do it after my presentation. Then I showed slides about my native city Tver, which also have close relations with the University of Jyväskylä. Every year the Finnish students, who study Russian language go to Tver for 3 months to improve they skills in Russian. Also we talked about Yaroslavl, which was familiar to the students as it is a twin town of Jyvaskylä. However, even Vladivostok, which is almost 10000 kilometres away from Jyväskylä, is also connected with Finland somehow. A Finnish visa service center was opened there this June.
At the end of the lesson we practiced with students the most common greeting phrases in Russian and some other important common expressions.
I am very glad that I participated in this International Day and had the unique chance to visit a Finnish school. I liked to work with Finnish students very much. They actively participated in class and were highly-disciplined. The thing which surprised me was the age of the students, because many of them were of the same age as me of even older. Also I noticed that students were really pleased when I tried to speak Finnish with them.
I hope very much that students enjoyed the Russian class and many of them will choose this language to learn in the future. I am also very grateful to the Jyväskylän yliopisto kielikampus for the opportunity they gave to me and I advise to all exchange students here to take participation in the school visit programme.