Libmonster ID: VN-1207

For more than 10 years, our regular author Viktor Aleksandrovich Pogadaev has been living and working in Malaysia, in its capital Kuala Lumpur. He is a professor at the University of Malaya and teaches Russian language and Russian culture to Malaysian students. Viktor Alexandrovich is a graduate of Moscow State University, a prominent specialist in the history and culture of Southeast Asian countries, a full member of the Russian Geographical Society and just a very enthusiastic person. During his next visit to Moscow, he told us in the editorial office about the specifics of his teaching work.

Question. The establishment of diplomatic relations between the USSR and Malaysia in 1967 contributed to the development of economic and cultural relations between our countries. But the world has changed in many ways since then, and you are now representing Russia in Malaysia. Has Malaysia changed?

Answer. Yes, the other one. In the words of Chekhov's character, Malaysia, like Greece, has everything. However, the comparison with Greece may not be entirely appropriate now, since Malaysia is not in danger of a financial crisis in which Greece is mired. On the contrary, it ranks first in the world in the production of electronic chips and household air conditioners, and is one of the leaders in the production of natural rubber, tin, and palm oil...

The scale of construction in the country is amazing: there are no skyscrapers in its capital, and in other cities too. There are almost no beggars on the streets, and the cleanliness is downright sterile. Do not try to shake the cigarette ash on the road from the car: if you see it, you will immediately be punished, with a fine of up to $100!

An interesting feature: in Malaysian trade usage, the word "no" is not used, although it is naturally present in the language. If the product you need is not available in the store, or maybe it never was, you will be answered: "over", and the word " no " will never be uttered. They may say: "not yet" with the subtext: "but it will be soon".

So it is with regard to specialists in the Russian language. They are not available in Malaysia yet, but they certainly will be. Globalization and the desire to develop relations with Russia and other CIS countries require such specialists. That is why interest in teaching Russian in Malaysia is growing. And that's why I ended up in Kuala Lumpur, at the Metropolitan University of Malaya.

Question. When did you first get to Malaysia?

Answer. The fate is amazing! After all, I now teach at the university, where I did an internship in Malay in the 1970s. I was part of the first group of Soviet students who came to Malaysia on a student exchange program. The agreement was used only by the Soviet side. Malaysia has never sent its students to the USSR, but it was happy to accept our students. And it was a far-sighted move, as Malaysia gained loyal friends. Among them is Tatiana Dorofeeva (unfortunately now deceased), the author of a Malay language textbook and an associate professor at ISAA. She was also the scientific secretary of the Nusantara Society, which holds its monthly Malay-Indonesian seminars.

Anatoly Voronkov was a correspondent for APN, RIA-Novosti, and now works in structures related to the supply of Russian aircraft to Malaysia.

I participated in the compilation of several Malay dictionaries, translated Leo Tolstoy's story "Hadji Murad" into Malay, and translated the works of many Malay authors into Russian.In 2006, Anwar Ridwan's story "There Were and Were No Ogonsoto Islands"was published in St. Petersburg.

I hope that our activities have contributed to the improvement of mutual understanding between our countries, and therefore to the strengthening of relations in various fields.

Question. What is the current situation with student exchange between Russia and Malaysia?

Answer. The situation has become diametrically opposite: 2.5 thousand students study at Russian universities, mainly medical ones. students are from Malaysia, but only a few go to Malaysia from Russia. But Russian students have the opportunity to continue their education at the University of Malaya in a master's or doctoral program. Of course, training is paid, but cheaper than in Russia. My daughter Anna, who graduated from the ISAA in 2002 and worked in Moscow, completed her Master's degree from the Academy of Malay Studies at the University of Malaya in 2008. Her master's degree helped her get a work visa and get a job with an Italian travel agency in Kuala Lumpur.

Question. Is it difficult for Malaysians to learn Russian?

Answer. There is a stereotype that the Russian language is difficult. Especially for some reason, students are afraid of writing-Cyrillic. But here they come to class and see that

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some of the letters both graphically and phonetically coincide with the spelling of Malay (here the Latin alphabet is used), and some of the letters, although pronounced differently, do not differ in shape from Latin. And after a couple of classes, Malaysians are happy to display their names, the names of their parents, relatives and friends in Russian.

Phonetically, Russian and Malay are very close. So students don't spend much time learning Russian phonetics. And grammar? Yes, "there is a lot of it," as one of my students said. But then, I tell them, thanks to the rules of grammar, all the words in a sentence can be rearranged randomly and still understand its meaning. My goal is not to intimidate the students and convince them to stay in the group. According to the system that exists here, students can change subjects "by choice" during the first two weeks of the semester (and Russian is still one of them): for example, drop out of Russian and take French or any other language. In two weeks, the composition of the group can change dramatically...

Question. How do you manage to interest pragmatic students in the feasibility of learning Russian?

Answer. At the first classes, I bring video clips, recordings of Russian folk and pop music, and even show cartoons. During the semester, I practice musical breaks after the first hour of classes (the lesson here lasts 1 hour and 50 minutes) and sometimes replace the oral exam with a Russian song contest in the karaoke genre.

Question. What is the duration of your Russian language training program?

Answer. The university has two Russian language teaching programs. One - for students of the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, the second-for students of other faculties. Students of the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics can study Russian for three semesters (i.e. half of the bachelor's degree), while the program for students of other faculties provides only two semesters.

Question. How many students study Russian?

Answer. Their number varies from semester to semester: Russian is a "subject of choice". From 40 to 60 people (two or three groups), plus those who study Russian culture (40-50 people). Seva Novgorodtsev, a correspondent for BBC Russian Broadcasting, recently interviewed me, and when I mentioned these figures, he blurted out: "Wow!".

Question. I wonder if the student life of Malaysian and Russian students is any different?

Answer. I think Malaysian students are the same as Russian students. In addition to academic classes, they take part in amateur art activities and play sports. The university has its own symphony orchestra, student theater, and various clubs. Those who study Russian annually take part in the celebration of St. Tatiana's Day - they sing songs and poems in Russian.

Nonresidents live in colleges-ashrams (dormitories). There is a certain code of conduct that includes rules for wearing clothing. Malaysia is a mostly Muslim country: wearing an excessively revealing dress is undesirable for both students and teachers. The majority of Malay students wear the national dress baju kurung (long jacket and long skirt) and a headscarf. Sometimes you can see a student in a burqa and with black gloves on her hands. Each faculty has special rooms for prayer.

Question. Could you work in Malaysia without knowing the Malay language?

Answer. Did my knowledge of Malay come in handy? Of course, yes. After all, most of the subjects at the university are taught in Malay. This applies to the teaching of the Russian language to a lesser extent. But here is a new subject that was introduced in my time-the art culture of Russia-read in Malay. And I am proud not only that this course was initiated by me, but also that it is the only course on the culture of foreign countries that is taught at the university. And mainly because I know Malay (teachers of other foreign languages in our department do not speak Malay). So I bow my head to ne-

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I have worked with my teachers at the Institute of Oriental Languages at Moscow State University, who have awakened my love for this language and this region. Two of them - Lyudmila Nikolaevna Demidyuk and Degas Vitalievich Deopik-still teach at the Institute.

Question. Who are most of your students, because Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country?

Answer. In addition to native Malays, there is a significant layer of people from China and South Asia, especially from India. The composition of my students is also diverse. There are Malays, Chinese, and Indians. Some of them are very gifted students.

Question. What system of assessment of student success is adopted in Malaysian universities?

Answer. A 100-point rating system is used here. The main exam is written. It gives 50 points (understanding a small text, grammar tasks, essays), an oral exam - only 20 points. And a student can get 30 points for tests and activity during the semester.

Imagine, some of my students get almost 100 points, which, of course, is not easy.

By the way, do not consider it a curiosity: I also had to teach Russian to police officers.

Question. Why do they need Russian?

Answer. Malaysia has a very open immigration policy. Citizens of Russia and CIS countries can get a one-month visa free of charge right on arrival at the airport. This is used, unfortunately, by Russian (and not only) prostitutes, who sooner or later face the police. Russian people, as a rule, do not know any foreign languages. So the police have to learn Russian to explain themselves to them.

But, as you can see, there are other business people. Malaysian pilots who will fly Russian planes will also learn Russian. I consider it an honor to study Russian with one of the candidates for Malaysian cosmonauts, Navar. He is a doctor-surgeon by profession and believed that knowledge of the Russian language would give him an advantage in the final selection. He studied furiously. Perhaps it was the surgeon's mentality. I consider him my best student. It is no coincidence that correspondents of the first channel of Russian television, who covered Vladimir Putin's visit to Malaysia in late 2005, drew attention to this and captured the Russian language lesson with Navar in one of their reports.

Question. The geopolitical vector of Russia has changed, but has it changed its attitude to the promotion of Russian culture and language in the eastern direction?

Answer. I have always been offended by how little attention is paid in Moscow to teaching Russian abroad. At least in Malaysia, I was envious when I saw Portuguese literature coming in from Portugal or Italian literature coming in from Italy. And only Russia showed enviable indifference.

But finally, in 2015, they paid attention to us. They sent us textbooks and teaching materials. At the Russian Cultural Center, my students participated in events dedicated to Pushkin Day.

So now something has changed. We can only hope that the campaign to help Russian language teachers will not end with the end of 2015.

The interview was conducted by E. V. SAFONOVAEditor of Asia and Africa Today magazine


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