It is necessary for bilingual children to study Russian
The A.S. Pushkin Russian State Institute of the Russian Language began implementation of the educational online platform ‘Education in Russian’ for remote study of the language abroad. Olga Kalenkova, the head of the Laboratory of Monitoring and Analysis of the Study of the Russian Language Abroad, says that now there are more than 15 thousand schools abroad, in which the Russian language is studied with varying depths and with a certain orientation. “The schools are functioning as a part of the additional education. These are either Sunday schools or schools where studies are conducted in the afternoon. Children of our compatriots study the Russian language there. And immediately the question arises: what to learn there, if they absorb the language with the milk of their mothers?”
According to Kalenkova, it is necessary for bilingual children to study Russian: “I will briefly describe the trajectory of the language development of an average child of our compatriots. Everything begins really well. A family speaks Russian, a child feels perfectly comfortable in pragmatic, everyday situations, hears his parents speaking. But socialization of children begins very early in Europe. Kindergarten starts at 3-4 years, and, in general, school from 5 years. And here something bad happens to our native Russian language. School provides powerful incentive for development of a host country's language – the lexical building, the didactic design. The Russian language is inferior to the language of the place of residence.
And preservation of children's speech begins. A person continues to speak the language which his family is speaking. How often do we hear the old migrants saying ‘My leg is boo-boo’’. Ridiculous, of course, but it is true. He remembers the language that his mother spoke to him ‘’Such beautiful hands, such wonderful eyes we have…”
Socialization is a serious matter, and the Russian language takes a step back.
Olga Kalenkova states that there is also an aggressive, interfering role of the host country's language: “These children need to speak the national language of the country where they live, of course, this is not even discussed. But we really want to save their national and linguistic identity. The schools which are called educational centers do this. It is their noble mission, it is their task. And our task is to support them methodically, from a linguistic and didactic point of view.”
One of these instruments of support, regulation, promotion of training activities for our children to learn the Russian language abroad, is a new certification testing of the Russian language for bilingual children. “Bilingualism is interpreted today not as it has been interpreted before. This is a quite multi-component, flexible definition, and today it is not necessary to speak with the same fluency in both languages to call an individual bilingual. So now we are just talking about the fact that we test bilingual children to the level of proficiency in Russian.
The goal of this test is to provide an objective assessment of the knowledge of pupils on the basis of unified measuring materials. Children live in different countries, attend different schools with different pedagogical teams, but the test will provide an opportunity to regulate the activities of the Russian educational training centers and actually start a mechanism of their integration into the European process of general education,” Kalenkova says.