Anna Gabets, the English Language Department, instructor, meets Emmet Ryan.
A: We got the response from the students, actually I got from my sociological students, and they all wrote that it was very-very interesting to study with you, that they got to know not only the language but also the culture and that you were very good at explaining things and grammar and lexics, and they are all very happy and hope to meet you again.
A: Now I want to ask: “Have you adapted to Samara finally?”
E: Yes I have. We felt a little bit alienated in the beginning of our trip here because we didn’t know where anything was. We’re staying on Moskovskoe Chaussée and that was all we knew for the first may be two weeks. We travelled back and forth to school and university and so on, and it was a little bit lonely because we didn’t know anybody and we didn’t know where to go and what to see in Samara, but then after two weeks one of our colleagues in the school I’m teaching at, as well as at University, showed us around Samara. We saw Revolutionary Square, Kuibyshev Square, they told us about the history and we walked down Leningradskaya Ulitsa and we saw different sights of Samara, which was very beautiful and lived up to the preconception I had of Samara before I arrived. It reminded me of what I thought old Russia was like, and so on. Where we are staying is a little bit soulless, it’s an apartment block with lots of cars going by, whereas the city centre is very-very beautiful and very-very historical, and it’s everything that I dreamed it would be like.
^ Is there anything in the city that impressed you most of all?
E: In the city? To be honest, not so much impressed me because I’ve been in Russia before. So the architecture and so on was very similar to when I was in St. Petersburg, but I was surprised to see a large rocket in the middle of the city. I was sitting on a tram, and I look up and there is a huge rocket outdoors for everybody to see, which I thought was quite remarkable. Another thing I found very interesting was when we were having a look around the city we went to look for Stalin’s bunker, and we were looking around for a long time. We knew it was near the Drama theatre, we knew it was very close, and I was sure if something’s so significant and so on, you would see lots of signs and directions, and may be a man dressed up as Stalin directing you to Stalin’s bunker. But no, it was so innocuous, it was situated around the side of may be a University building or a school, which I thought was really interesting, because really if something so significant was in the UK or was in the United States, it would be a huge tourist attraction, and, as I’ve said before, you would probably have somebody, a Stalin lookalike, outside directing you; you’d be able to buy Stalin memorabilia, and dolls, and toys, and so on. And I thought it was very interesting, because may be it’s a reflection of the Russian psyche, as much as anything else, that we are not as bombastic and we are not the sort of people who need to… oh, I don’t know how to explain… overdo something you know, like exploit something historical for money and so on.
^ Now turning to University what are your impressions of the students of University?
E: To be honest, I have two main classes in University, they are for Philological faculty and International Relations. And now I have students from the Sociology department, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see the level of the students, most notably in International Relations department and Philological, because their level was easily advanced. And I thought it was quite bizarre listening to some of them because their pronunciation, and their intonation, accent were very similar to may be a very-very grand English accent, so, of course, if you’re learning English in Russian schools you’re taught to speak Queen’s English, like proper intonation, pronunciation and so on. I thought it was very bizarre because in England there’s a very-very small percentage of people who speak like this. And so my students, when they were pronouncing words, you would think you were listening to - they were living in Buckinghamshire or Kent or somewhere like that in England, and so it was very pleasantly surprising to hear this. But that standard is absolutely fantastic, and I hope my time here has benefited them because when I arrived they were off time and, you know, their ability, their knowledge was there, but hopefully I have synergized my knowledge with theirs to develop their skills further because that’s the final step really. You know they can learn, they can study the language as much as they want here, and hopefully I have given them little nuances, little insights into the British culture and so on so as to make that final step a little bit easier for them.
A: Do you see any difference between the students of our University and the students you are teaching in another place or may be the students you taught before?
E: To be honest, not really. I find it quite interesting with Russian learners because if you asked me that about Chinese students I would definitely say ’yes’. But I think the experience I had in the past has been with Italians and Spanish, and yes, they are more extrovert in class and more lively, but apart from that there’s not much of a difference between Russian students and, say, students from, say, Germany or Austria or other parts of Europe. I do find it quite interesting though, and this I know from my experience at Saint Petersburg as well. Generally, if students have a problem - from other parts of Europe and the UK and so on - they always come to the teacher first. In Russia, I know that if there’re students who have a problem, they’ll go to the director without telling the teacher at all. The teacher would have no idea that anything is wrong until the director comes and says something. Really, it’s very hard to push a whole country into one category because there’re introverts and extroverts, and funny people, and quiet people and all in all cultures and so on.
^ O.K. And you got acquainted with a lot of teachers and professors, so what are your impressions about the teaching staff?
E: Oh, well, I’ve only observed one class. Now, was it with the International Relations? And I thought it was quite interesting because I saw, as I’ve said, only one class. I don’t know if this is how teaching practice is across the board in University, but it seems like rote learning was still quite common, like learning passages by heart, and memorizing many different words and so on, and this is not common any more. Like I remember when like you’re in secondary school and primary school you have to learn like blocks of poems and so on, and I haven’t had a chance to analyze whether I think this is better or worse or what, but that’s something I noticed about them. There are teachers I have been acquainted with like yourself and Marina Cherkunova, Tatiana Gouralnik and - I know her by her first name – Alla (Editor’s note: Alla Grinshtein), anyway. They have been very-very helpful, very-very facilitating, very-very warm, and I don’t think I could have bonded with the students in the same way without the help of yourself and the other teachers. But, as I’ve said, the only lesson I’ve observed has been Tatiana Gouralnik’s lesson.
A: Thank you.
E: O.K., O.K.
|From: megasoft™ Ltd., Saint-Petersburg, Russia e-mail (not active already): msoft@ice spb ru (only English-language /Russian-language)||From: megasoft™ Ltd., Saint-Petersburg, Russia e-mail (not active already): msoft@ice spb ru (only English-language /Russian-language)|
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