Mikhail Osadchiy: "Russian is a real-life language in Azerbaijan
The 10th Russia-Azerbaijan Interregional Forum organized by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan ended in Moscow. The forum was attended by First Vice President of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva, Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko, heads of economic departments of Russia and Azerbaijan Maxim Oreshkin and Mikail Dzhabbarov, Russian governors and heads of executive authorities of cities and regions of Azerbaijan, business representatives of both countries. On the sidelines of the forum, Vestnik Kavkaza spoke with the Vice-Rector for Science at the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, Professor of the Department of General and Russian Linguistics, Doctor of Philology Mikhail Osadchiy.
- How do you assess the cooperation with Azerbaijan in the field of education?
- Azerbaijan is our long-standing and faithful partner. We cooperate closely in the school, universities and scientific organizations spheres. In recent years, we have reformed our cooperation a bit, transferring it to the format of the Pushkin Institute’s affiliate network. This new, modern format does not imply long bureaucratic procedures for opening branches or new legal entities. The existing educational organizations, which have proved as strong centers of Russian studies, become our partners, join the methodological and scientific association and distribute the best educational practices not only in Azerbaijan but also in other CIS republics.
Azerbaijan has a very old and strong school of Russian studies. We know this well and with great attention follow the activities of this school, conduct a dialogue with the scientific community. Very close relations are maintained between the Russian Language Abroad magazine, the oldest Russian language magazine in the world, and the Russian Language and Literature in Azerbaijan magazine, headed by Professor Flora Nadzhieva. In the format of an affiliate network, with our participation, the Center for Russian Studies was opened at the University of Foreign Languages in Baku. Also, we maintain close contacts with Ganja State University, one of the leading universities in Azerbaijan.
We are glad that the ‘Ambassadors of the Russian language in the world’ project is developing, young children come to Azerbaijan, tell their peers how wonderful it is to learn Russian, as it provides a lot of new things to the young generation. In 2017-2018, we conducted three expeditions of the ambassadors of the Russian language (about three hundred children benefited from this project) and received positive feedback.
We are actively developing Internet cooperation with Azerbaijan. Remote technologies allow us to upgrade teachers' qualifications without any significant budgetary costs and allow children to learn Russian from home without coming to Russia. At the same time, we are aware that the study of a foreign language, first of all, means a plunge into the linguistic environment. We would like more teachers from Azerbaijan to have an opportunity to come to us for full-fledged internships with immersion in the real language environment. Today, the Russian language is developing very intensively, and if a person has not been to Russia for ten years, then probably he will not quite understand the modern Russian native speaker - new words, new pronunciation, new stresses emerge. It is very important to be at the forefront of all changes in modern Russian.
- How do you assess the level of the Russian language in Azerbaijan?
- It’s enough to say that children from Azerbaijan are constantly participating in the international Russian language Olympiad among schoolchildren. These are very skilled kids who speak excellent Russian literary language, sometimes with absolutely no accent. Very often Azerbaijani children become winners of this Olympiad. Usually, they speak Russian at home. This suggests that the Russian language in Azerbaijan is not only the language of official communication but also the real-life language, real perception of reality.
We constantly note the high level of Russian language teaching. But time goes forward, and today in Azerbaijan’s universities we compete with the English language. This is an objective reality. In Russia, a lot of universities are already implementing educational programs in English. This is a zeitgeist. But in Azerbaijan, the combination of programs in Russian and English is quite harmonious and competent. We understand that in some areas, for example, in the IT field, English is more in demand. But in the humanitarian sphere, there is a clear Russian language tendency. Azerbaijani colleagues are aware of the need to implement programs specifically in Russian. So, in this sphere, Russian language positions are strong.