Master students of the TSU Faculty of Philology from China, Li Thun, Yao Mins, and Gou Shanshan are helping other international students of TSU to study the Russian language using the paintings of Russian artists. The result will be the creation of the first textbook on teaching Russian as a foreign language using art as a didactic material.
The project's objective is not only to teach international students to speak Russian, but also to increase their interest to the Russian culture, to show the country in which they now live. Usually movies or songs are used to study Russian as a foreign language. But students of TSU believe that studying with painting can be no less effective.
- In the study of a second language, a cultural studies component is a motivating factor because if a student does not feel interested in a subject, the result is much lower than it could be, - says Galina Starikova, project manager and assistant professor at the Faculty of Philology.
In the classroom, students use portraits, landscapes, and still-lifes painted by Ilya Repin, Isaak Levitan, Fyodor Moller, and other Russian artists. Tasks for the paintings may be very different: they may be oral, written, lexical, grammatical, historical, and cultural.
- One lesson was devoted to “Portrait of Gogol” by Moller - says Li Thun. - International students had to figure out what kind of person was depicted on the portrait and the story of the creation of the painting, and then describe the appearance of the hero, using specific vocabulary. In addition, Nikolai Gogol has a story Portrait, and studying it just fits into the work on this painting. Thus, the students with the help of one painting can get acquainted with a whole layer of Russian culture.
The Master’s student notes that all who come to study at TSU on exchange programmes like Russian literature and culture. Many international students have already found their favorite artists. For example, landscapes by Isaac Levitan attract Li Thun. According to her, they look like a revived miracle.