The article deals with the formation of a secondary language personality in the process of studying a foreign language. The question which is widely discussed now is the possibility to move from developing communicative skills to creating the opportunities for the dialogue of cultures development which is important for successful interaction in the modern multicultural world. The language acts both as a unifying platform and the nation’s cultural code emphasizing its unique character. Non-equivalent vocabulary underlines the uniqueness of culture of the studied language. Mastering a foreign language contributes to the formation of linguistic and cultural competence of a student and widens not only his knowledge but general world outlook. Thus, it is necessary to select methods and to work out methodology of work with non-equivalent vocabulary. The article emphasizes the necessity to provide a detailed explanation and interpretation of lexical meaning, compatibility, presence or absence of stylistic marking of the studied lexical units. The mentioned factors are is important to exclude a false interpretation of non-equivalent vocabulary and provide clear understanding of its meaning. The emphasis is made on the necessity to foster a tolerant attitude of students to the values of a new culture the language of which they study and to provide a successful inclusion of students into the process of intercultural communication the final goal of which is to form a secondary language personality.
Keywords: Dialogueculturepersonalityforeign languagevocabularymethodology
At present, at the time of all-round globalization the questions of both search and development of unifying systems and the possibility to preserve the uniqueness and identity of each nation is still relevant (Bobyreva et al., 2017; Bobyreva et al., 2018). The language can act both as a unifying platform (it is worth remembering the ideas of Esperanto) and the nation’s cultural code emphasizing its unique character. Since the ideas of creating a united world community are only utopias at present, it is necessary to pay attention to the possibilities of the language to influence a personality’s formation. The level of the language’s prevalence outside the country and interest in its studying can be clear proves of the country’s authority on the world’s stage. Therefore, widespread of the Russian language and culture should be considered to be tools for promoting and implementing the interests of strategic foreign policy in the world and increasing Russian Federation’s non-resource export.
Studying Russian by foreign students, their acquaintance with rich Russian culture and national realities of life contribute to the formation of positive attitude to this country as a representative of the world’s community, strengthening of the country's position and expanding Russia’s presence on the international arena.
The main goal of the presented study is to describe the formation of a secondary language personality during the process of a foreign language studying under the circumstances that multicultural dialogue provides. The article shows to what extent studying a foreign language is able to transform the way we perceive the world around us. Just as regular sport exercises benefit to your body, so the ability to mentally control two or more languages provides more cognitive benefits to your brain and, no doubt, enriches it. The consciousness and perception of cross-cultural differences expand beyond language usage to nonverbal categorization of events. Based on the researches of psycholinguists it can be stated that a person transforms into a different personality using a another (non-native) language, the necessity to express his thoughts has a different emotional resonance depending on the language used in the exact situation of communication.
Purpose of the Study
In the process of studying Russian as a foreign language a tolerant attitude to the values of a new culture are worked out. As one of the first goals is to provide a successful inclusion of students into the process of intercultural communication, in its turn this goal finally contributes to the formation of a secondary language personality. The most appropriate form of work is a dialogue as a form of communication in a multicultural group where everybody feels free to speak out, to express his\her thoughts and points of view. The task of a lecturer - so called “driving force” or “motive power” - is to awake the interest in discovering a new country and its culture, to arrange a lesson in such a way that all grammar and lexical difficulties move to the background. The article describes possible ways to form the secondary language personality as the final goal of studying Russian as a foreign language.
The following methods have been used to conduct research and to fulfill the set tasks: semantic analysis, contextual analysis, informants’ survey, method of analysis of cultural meanings.
Teaching language and formation of a secondary language personality, as the ultimate goal, cannot be imagined without acquaintance with the country’s culture and modern social life realities. Studying Russian by foreign students and their acquaintance with Russian culture and the realities of life contribute to the formation of a positive attitude to the country as a representative of the world’s community, strengthening country's position and expanding Russian presence in the international arena. Thus, knowledge of non-equivalent vocabulary is one of the conditions for the formation of linguistic and cultural competence of foreign students. It is worth noting that in this case it is difficult to work out proper teaching methods since the closeness between language and culture is most clearly manifested in realias and emergence of new objects in the material and spiritual life of society leads to the necessity of creation of new language units (Abazova & Tanasheva, 2016; Bakirova, 2016). The methodology of working with such vocabulary in the process of teaching Russian as a foreign language should be organized taking into account student’s language competence as well as his age, level of education and general knowledge about culture. In order to understand the meaning of a particular foreign word students must have appropriate cultural knowledge.
In modern theory of teaching Russian as a foreign language, the transition from developing communicative skills to creating the opportunities for development of the dialogue of cultures is obvious, which is an indisputable necessity for successful interaction in the modern multicultural world. The ideas of forming a secondary language personality in the process of a foreign language studying are not completely new, a lot of researchers have devoted their studies to the consideration of this issue (Armstrong & Rogers, 2017; Moeller & Nugent, 2014; Weiler, 2015). Famous film director Frederico Fellini noted that a different language also represents a different vision of life. Our task is to describe the process of work with non-equivalent vocabulary as one of the most productive ways of a secondary language personality’s formation.
It would be a mistake to believe that learning a foreign language will automatically lead to the creation of a new language personality, since its education is based on the conscious formation of both verbal-semantic and cognitive levels. A student must be open to any new information and willing to integrate the information he receives into the structure of his knowledge. It is this approach that explains the functioning of the definition “secondary”, since a new picture of the world is created and it somehow doubles the existing one. On the other hand, it also marks the presence of a certain hierarchy in the individual’s mind. Therefore, success and speed of the process of a secondary language personality formation depend directly on the existing knowledge base and student’s experience of intercultural interaction. The task of the teacher is not only to teach information about all levels of the language, but to provide comfortable conditions for a foreign student to get to know Russian culture and traditions.
Working with non-equivalent vocabulary, a student faces differences and discrepancies, which are explained by the uniqueness of the culture, lifestyle and historical development of different people, the most striking examples of which are presented by phraseological and paremiological funds (Alekseeva, 2015). Existence of cultural gaps becomes the reason of creation of non-equivalent vocabulary, since such units are difficult to introduce by means of translation due to the lack of stable lexical and semantic correlations in other languages (Moeller & Catalano, 2015). From the point of view of methodology of teaching Russian as a foreign language, non-equivalent units and deceptively equivalent words are elements that prevent full understanding not only of text, but also of subtext, contributing to the occurrence of errors in students’ speech (Gavrilova, 2016; Gushchina, 2015). However, this situation leads not only to mistakes, but also has educational value, drawing students’ attention to the historical and national-cultural characteristics of the country the language of which they study; it helps to summarize and generalize language, speech and cultural experience, not only forming speech skills but also creating student’s general linguistic and cultural competence (Abazova & Tanasheva, 2016). The relevance of studying non-equivalent vocabulary in the scientific and methodological aspects as one of the ways of a secondary language personality formation is explained by the lack of development of methodological teaching techniques, practice and control of students’ understanding and assimilation of the material under consideration. There is no doubt that the national-marked vocabulary which demonstrates peculiarities of each nation’s national culture serves to form linguistic and cultural competence of students studying a foreign language (Fuchs, 2012). In his research Bakirova (2016) identifies several groups of non-equivalent language units, such as proper names, clothing, footwear, jewelry, traditional household items, musical instruments, mythological and fairy-tale creatures, food and drinks, and folk games. All the above-mentioned groups of the described vocabulary layer also determine the peculiarities of working on it – the impossibility of using literal translations (since such words do not have stable equivalents in other languages), and using the method of selecting synonyms.
Speaking about peculiarities of teaching non-equivalent vocabulary in the practice of learning Russian as a foreign language, we believe that a special place in methodological techniques should be set aside to culturological reading of authentic texts which can serve as means of forming students’ socio-cultural competence (Shamzi, 2016).
Work with Russian folk tales is an important aspect of getting acquainted with Russian culture, both at the initial stage of learning Russian and at the advanced stage. During training students of the preparatory department approximately at the beginning of the second semester propadeutical disciplines are introduced, such as: Russian literature, history, geography, social studies, and a number of disciplines referring to natural sciences. Introducing such historical realities as “Tatar-Mongol yoke”, “oprichnina”, “boyars” it is important to explain them producing pictures in order to clarify the notion. For example, working with the term “Tatar-Mongol yoke”, it is necessary to introduce such lexical units as “to pay tribute”, “Tatar”, “Mongol” and their derivatives, along the way to consider the geographical position occupied by the Mongol Empire and the Golden Horde. All groups of anthroponyms and toponyms – oronyms, horonyms, astyonyms, hydronyms - will also present non-equivalent vocabulary. Having considered in detail all the elements of the definition and having accompanied them with comments on grammatical properties and lexical compatibility of the units, we can give the following definition. Tatar-Mongol yoke is a system of dependence of Russian principalities on the Mongol Empire, and after its collapse - from the Golden Horde until the end of the XV century, period during which Russian lands had to pay tribute and did not have political freedom.
The implicatures of the cultural background in the semantic composition of these lexical units present an important step towards understanding the conceptosphere of the language studied, since the knowledge of the values of a foreign language culture is based on symbolic concepts. L.V. Makarova identifies cultural reading as a subspecies of studying reading aimed at identifying and interpreting cultural facts as one of the means of forming socio-cultural competence in the process of teaching non-equivalent vocabulary. The author describes components that contribute to effective work: linguistic component that assumes presence of actual authentic units in the text; psychological component that indicates that the perception and assimilation of a lexical unit does not occur in isolation, but only in the text; methodological component that emphasizes the need to develop skills for learning new vocabulary; socio-cultural component that involves reflecting the national mentality through the actualization of culturally specific concepts (Makarova, 2009).
The most productive way to introduce new non-equivalent units and their subsequent semantization is to demonstrate how they function in the text. Both authentic and specially designed samples can be used as texts. If a teacher chooses to work with an authentic text, the level of grammatical and lexical difficulties should be minimized to avoid incorrect understanding of the lexical unit, focusing student’s attention on a particular one. In textbooks non-equivalent vocabulary is accompanied by pictures, however, it can be advised to demonstrate the word using one more picture, or even several ones, so that the idea of a particular object becomes more voluminous and versatile. Not every student has a good imagination to build up an image, so the teacher needs to explain the meaning of the word as clearly as possible. Separately considered studied lexeme must be connected in student’s mind not only with strong associative links, but also with emotional ones. If a teacher manages to evoke students’ emotion, then learning emotion-based material becomes durable. Thus, if non-equivalent vocabulary is associated with some emotion, the process of its mastering will be faster, forming a stable skill for using this lexical unit in a real situation of communication (Timoshenkova & Sadovskaya, 2013).
Exercises to train non-equivalent vocabulary should be varied not only in content but also in methods of execution. Exercises should be carried out not only independently by each student, but also in pairs and in groups of two, three and four. As studying non-equivalent vocabulary implies a certain level of proficiency, formation of skills for independent analytical work, it is not necessary to learn certain extracts of texts by heart, because further inclusion of texts’ fragments into students’ speech can be problematic. Studying non-equivalent vocabulary seems difficult, if the percentage of such vocabulary exceeds a certain number, understanding and learning would be impossible (permissible quantity of unfamiliar words is set by the Standards for each level). Providing work it is mandatory to have a sample of action, you need to give grammatical characteristics of the described unit (gender, number, features of plural form formation, type of declension, working with a verb and verb forms – valence, etc.).
At the initial stage of work, language exercises demonstrate new lexical units and unique facts of the culture of the country (the language of which is studied) reflected in such lexical units. These exercises aim at formation of primary lexical skills, considering grammatical characteristics of the unit, and fixing it without taking into account situational/contextual conditions of realization of meaning. The inextricable connection of non-equivalent vocabulary and culture of the country determines the main tasks on this stage – demonstration by the teacher and assimilation by students knowledge of culture, history of the country the language of which is studied, perception and comprehension of information about the facts of culture (Kissling & Klein, 2016).
As the first exercise with non-equivalent vocabulary at the initial stage, you can translate proper names of Russian scientists and people of culture. Due to the peculiarities of native speakers, such tasks will be especially relevant for Chinese and Arabic students. For example: “Translate the following proper names into your native language: Lomonosov, Pushkin, Lermontov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy”. At the next stage you students can be asked to build sentences with the proposed units according to the model “who (is) who”, “who was who”, drilling the nominative and creative case of nouns and adjectives and peculiarities of declension of names and surnames. After training the correct pronunciation and spelling, you can offer your listeners the following game. Teacher shows the portraits of famous people and places them on the board, students must named people using construction with the nominative and the instrumental cases. Then teacher takes out several pictures and asks which of the presented people is missing. In this case, the genitive case is being trained. It is advisable to combine the tasks described and work with a geographical map. In addition to performing standard exercises for training the genitive (“Where has he come from?”), accusative (“Where did he go to study?”) and prepositional cases (“Where did he live?”) students also learn Russian toponyms, which also belong to non-equivalent vocabulary and are difficult to translate. Working with the map represents unlimited range of tasks at the initial stages of learning Russian as a foreign language. In addition to working with the prepositional-case system, it is possible to provide students studying in a multicultural group information about other countries. Unfortunately, representatives of the Asian region do not know much about Africa, and the Arab countries are of great interest. Having the opportunity to tell about their country using the language they study and noticing gaps in the knowledge of their colleagues, a student tries to make his story more interesting. It increases their interest and motivates them to complete all the given tasks. As an experiment, we considered to increase the time given to perform this task and include extracurricular visits not only to the main museums in Moscow, but also to small houses-museums of Russian writers and poets, thematic pavilions of VDNH (Exhibition of the National Economy Achievements) “Cosmonautics/Mechanical engineering”, “Bread products”, “Culture”, “Moscow”, “Russia – my history”. As a result, we noted that the interest and motivation of students has increased. We provided a detailed description of working with non-equivalent vocabulary at the initial stage of training, since limited vocabulary of this level makes monolingual semantics of non-equivalent units most difficult to master.
At this stage the most important are language exercises both introductory and semanticizing (translated and non-translated). Introductory exercises are aimed at introducing a new unit of vocabulary; in case of non-translational semantization actualization of background knowledge related to this vocabulary units takes place, and previously studied vocabulary is recalled from memory. Since we work with non-equivalent vocabulary, we should speak about non-translational semantic units as optimal way to present information. Undoubtedly, this method is more energy-consuming, but its advantages are nonnegotiable. Monolingual semantics, developing intelligence, promotes search, initiating the ability of students to find associative links between studied lexical units, reduces possibility of inter-language interference. Non-translational semantics takes into account extralinguistic information (Fonseca-Greber, 2016).
Studying non-equivalent vocabulary in the practice of learning Russian as a foreign language allows foreign-language students not only to enrich greatly their vocabulary, but also to form linguistic and cultural competence, which in the light of the competence approach in modern education presents one of the main points of secondary language personality formation (Moeller & Nugent, 2014). It expands existing knowledge about culture and history of the country the language of which is studied, contributes to the creation of tolerant attitude towards the values of a foreign country, and harmoniously includes students in the process of intercultural communication (Athanasopoulos, 2019). In the process of foreign language studying non-equivalent vocabulary serves as the clearest illustration of the diversity of languages and cultures, because in a monolingual environment such lexical unit are not actualized. The semantization of new lexical units should start from a detailed explanation of their lexical meaning in the language being studied, in order to update previously acquired knowledge, so you can rely on previous material (Klafki, 2017). At this stage, it is important to get students interested providing vivid facts from the history or culture of the country, thereby contributing to the emergence of the further desire for independent search. Explanation of a word’s lexical meaning must necessarily be accompanied by visual methods of semantization. It is necessary to do a number of speech exercises to work out the implementation of the communicative intention in the current situation (Scarino, 2017).
Thus, the need to work with hard-to-translate or untranslatable units is undeniable, so based on modern educational standards and requirements it is important to form not only students’ communicative or linguistic competence, but also their cultural competence and as a result to form a secondary language personality.
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20 November 2020
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Sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, bilingualism, multilingualism
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Vanyushina, N. A., Dmitrieva, O. А., & Bobyreva, E. V. (2020). Formation Of Secondary Language Personality As A Subject Of Intercultural Dialogue. In Е. Tareva, & T. N. Bokova (Eds.), Dialogue of Cultures - Culture of Dialogue: from Conflicting to Understanding, vol 95. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 92-99). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.11.03.11