Arctic Component As Intercultural Communicative Competence Factor In The Institute Of Culture

Abstract

The competency approach is the key component of the existing State Standard of Higher Education in the Russian Federation. The purpose of a standard can be achieved through a new and creative selection of the content of educational material as well as various teaching methods (active, interactive). The abilities of the Arctic component as an educational tool for the development and improvement of students’ intercultural communicative competence are studied in this paper within a foreign language and literature classes in a university of culture and arts. In addition, the authors focus on the role that the Arctic component plays in the language courses content during the development of personal qualities of students, since the representatives of various nationalities of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) study at the Arctic State Institute of Culture and Arts. These students include the representatives of indigenous and minority peoples of the North. The vast majority of students have two or three mother tongues. They can speak Russian and their native languages. They learn foreign languages at both the secondary and high school, and then, continue doing it at universities and colleges. The authors describe in details the development of educational manuals (textbooks) for students of the institute. These manuals are aimed at the solution of various issues such as developmental, teaching and educational ones. The contribution of the Arctic component to the improvement of the communicative competence of students and the necessity to take into account their mother tongue and national culture in language education are discussed in this paper.

Keywords: Arctic componentarts institutionintercultural communication

Introduction

Today humanity faces modern challenges which result in the modernization and innovation of higher education system throughout the world and Russia is not an exception.

The main purpose of the process of Russian education modernization is to train qualified and competent specialists, who are able to obtain the best results in their sphere and to develop their professional skills. At the same time, the Russian National Program of Development of the Arctic zone gives priority to the higher professional education as a contribution to human capital development in the Arctic. It also includes the improvement of language education. Russian and foreign languages proficiency of modern experts determines their general communicative competence as well as the level of their business communication. These aspects comprise their competitive advantage at the labour market.

Intercultural communicative competence is very important for professionals in the field of culture and arts as their work implies many intercultural contacts.

The existing State Standards of Higher Education aim at the implementation of the competency approach. It requires to use various teaching methods (active, interactive) during the educational process, the introduction of new and interesting educational material in the content of curriculum and creative teaching methods. It is necessary to organize the students’ activity so that they can participate in active dialogue, communicate, share their knowledge and ideas and constantly interact. As a result, they have such competence as business communication skills. Moreover, they learn to think critically, analyze various sources of information, make reasonable decision, participate in discussions and work in a team.

Problem Statement

Arctic State Institute of Culture and Arts (ASICA) is a leading higher educational institution in the Republic of Sakha in the sphere of culture and arts. The institute was found in 2000 in Yakutsk, the capital of the republic. It is a young institute, existing for twenty years. However, it is a dynamically developing educational institution which has his own place in the educational space of the North-East of the Russian Federation.

In 2003 ASICA joined Arctic University. It is an international non-governmental Open University. The aim of this university is to share educational resources, develop collaboration between higher institutions of Arctic regions. Due to the membership in Arctic University, the students of ASICA participate in various educational programs, for example, in the exchange program “North to North” (North2North). Foreign students come to study at this institute. Taking part in the exchange program requires students’ sufficient level of foreign language knowledge and communicative skills.

The Republic of Sakha, or Yakutia, is a multinational constituent entity of Russia. The results of the survey carried out in ASICA showed that the vast majority of students can speak two or even three languages. They can speak Russian, and their native language (for example, Sakha language) and some representatives of the northern minorities (Evens, Evenkis and others) know Russian, Sakha and their native languages.

Despite the fact that students were raised in the native language environment, in their educational institutions they study in Russian. Besides, it is necessary to note that these students have strong desire to improve Russian, as well as to learn foreign languages. Thus, they show their proclivity to multilingualism.

Different specialists are interested in learning languages and improving speech skills. The skill of eloquent and confident speech in Russian or foreign language is extremely necessary. However, for many people it is difficult to learn foreign languages. They are frustrated and embarrassed because they are not able to express their thoughts fluently and adequately in oral or written forms, not being native speakers.

Research Questions

The cultural landscape of the Arctic is a diverse phenomenon. Educational and scientific activities of ASICA aim to preserve, investigate and develop cultural identity, promote creative and cultural values of indigenous communities of the North and the Arctic, create the environment that meets the ethnic and cultural educational needs of peoples in the Russian Federation, develop human capital in the Arctic.

The distinguishing feature of higher education is that students can learn about the cultural values from the experts in the spiritual heritage of Arctic peoples, staying in their native ethnic environment. Students who want to study traditional culture, folklore, folk art, decorative applied art, designing and painting school of the Northern and Arctic peoples can learn it just “at first hand” here. The main features of the Arctic cultural expression are diversity and unity (Vinokurova, 2014).

In order to complete the task of language and humanitarian disciplines, taught in ASICA, the curriculum was enhanced with the regional Arctic component. The introduction of the Arctic component is explained by the general language situation in Yakutia as well as the above mentioned mission of the institute and increasing international cooperation in the fields of education, culture and arts. The main purpose of the introduction of the Arctic component into language courses is to increase the intercultural communication competence of students and to emphasize the purpose of a person developing as a basic one.

Purpose of the Study

The research purposes are as follows:

  • to evaluate the state of language in the students’ groups of ASICA;

  • to substantiate the introduction of the Arctic component in the content of language disciplines theoretically;

  • to substantiate approaches to the selection of educational material and the principles of constructing textbooks for students of the institute aimed at developing intercultural communicative competence;

  • to develop the manuals (teaching aids) consisting the regional (Arctic) component and test them in the course of teaching practice.

Research Methods

The methodological basis of the study is general philosophical, general pedagogical and psychological approaches to the problem of human activity and communication, the principles of humanistic pedagogy and humanitarianization of education, psycholinguistic concepts of speech production, the theory of foreign language speech activity, the concept of culture as a structured system of modelled behaviour, the provision of multilingualism as a complex disciplinary problem.

Research methods: general theoretical methods of scientific knowledge (analysis, synthesis, comparison, generalization), general pedagogical methods (analysis of scientific publication sources on the topic of research, pedagogical observation, conversation, a generalization of pedagogical experience).

The targeted formation of intercultural communicative competence can be more effective if the following conditions are met:

  • students’ intercultural communicative competence is trained based on a personal-activity approach;

  • a pedagogical model for intercultural communicative competence improvement is being implemented, aimed at solving personality-developing tasks that are closely related to social (professional) need and personal need of a student for gaining and expanding social experience, improving the cognitive and personal capabilities of a cultural-linguistic personality;

  • in the process of training, comparative linguistic and cultural analyses are carried out as a necessary condition that ensures the optimal orientation of a person who communicates and is not a native speaker, to his foreign addressee;

  • developed teaching aids aimed at training and improving intercultural communicative competence are built based on situational modelling of foreign speech practice and take into consideration the own culture of a student.

Findings

  • “Foreign Language” discipline

The course of foreign language in non-linguistic educational institution is of practical and communicative nature. It means, first, that the course is aimed at the establishment and improvement of communication skills of students. Nowadays, team activities on the implementation of scientific, professional and other tasks are extremely important. They need a group working and require the skills in foreign language communication. Learning foreign language(s) gives students the opportunity to meet various educational needs, i.e., it is is of overall value.

During socialization, every person masters various verbal and non-verbal communication ways typical for their own culture and uses them in everyday situations. In foreign culture the system of orientation may become inadequate and a person can have “cultural shock”. These problems are caused by the lack of knowledge, practical skills and experience that is gained through special training.

When a student learns a foreign language, they learn about the culture of a particular country as well. They get some social and cultural background about history, traditions, national features of communication. It is very important in educational dimension and it helps to overcome or avoid “cultural shock” in future.

An attempt to generate interest, tolerance and respect for other cultures, overcoming a sense of irritation from redundancy, failure or simply differences of other cultures is especially important nowadays when the mixing of peoples, languages, cultures have reached a record level (Ter-Minasova, 2000).

When integrating the foreign culture in learning the foreign language, one culture interacts with another, and their specific features become clearer. This allows for better understanding not only the foreign culture but own native culture of students.

How to ensure the efficient development of students’ intercultural communicative competence? We know that knowledge becomes important only if it has its personal meaning. In order to reach this goal, the educational content should motivate and touch upon the emotional sphere of a student. It must promote active expression of attitudes.

Personal-activity approach means students motivation and active participation in a foreign language learning process that can be achieved through the selection of learning themes, texts, the system of tasks and exercises that are close to students’ life, their cultural and professional interests. It is necessary to use comparative analysis of both language and cultural levels (Fomin, 2012).

The teachers of foreign language of our department have prepared the following manuals “The Arctic: a Cultural Reader” for the English language classes (Alekseev et al., 2012), “Decouvrir l’Arctique” to practice French (Zimina, 2015). Every manual consists of texts about the peculiarities of the Arctic environment, the peoples of the Arctic, their culture, languages, traditions, customs, and problems. The manual includes six parts: “The Arctic is Our Home”, “Indigenous Peoples of the Arctic”, “Traditional Trades of the Arctic Peoples”, “Minorities Living in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)”, “Beliefs and Traditions of the Arctic Peoples”, “Modern Topical Issues in the Arctic”.

Every part consists of 4–5 units. Every unit includes questions, texts, exercises on vocabulary and comprehension of the stance and details of texts, grammar exercises and questions to discuss. Manuals motivate students to read texts, comprehend them, compare the cultural traditions of peoples, share their ideas and attitudes since the content of manuals is interesting for students and similar to their life and problems.

The manuals were analyzed by the experts of Far Eastern Regional Training Center and recommended for publication and use in teaching. The manual in French was successfully approved by the educational and methodical association of universities of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia.

The textbook containing the Arctic component and aimed to the improvement of communicative skills of students who are not native Russian language speakers was created in our institute for the discipline “The Russian Language and Culture of Speech” and the textbook “Ethno-linguistics”. However, it is not the subject of discussion in this paper.

“Russian Literature” and “Foreign Literature” disciplines

Learning foreign languages and cultures is impossible without studying literature. Studying literature at a university should include both educational and scientific material, contributing not only to a complete understanding of the theory and history of world literature but also to help to acquire the knowledge about the mutual conditionality of the literature development of individual countries and national literature of the peoples living in these countries. However, the development of the literary process in Russia also implies the development of national kinds of literature, including Sakha literature.

Traditionally, studying literature at a university includes studying domestic and foreign literature. For example, in the new Russia’s Federal State Educational Standard of Higher school and Exemplary Basic Educational Program of Higher school, studying literature by the students of “Library and Information Activities” (Klyuev et al., 2019), “Social and Cultural Activities” (Yaroshenko et al., 2019) training directions breaks down into a course of national and foreign literature.

The task of the university teacher at the initial stage is to identify the training level of first-year students. Most of the students at ASICA are graduates of rural schools, where they learn the course of Russian and Sakha Literature. However, Foreign Literature is studied to a lesser extent. Many graduates have little knowledge in the field of foreign literature. In the capital of the republic Yakutsk, graduates of city schools learn Russian literature, to a lesser extent – foreign literature, and Yakut Literature in many city schools is often missing as a discipline.

This circumstance promotes the development of a methodology for teaching literature, aimed at developing intercultural and communicative competencies, deepening knowledge about the subject, taking into account the student’s training level.

The purpose of such a strategy is introducing the Arctic component into the discipline program. This purpose can be realized by including the Arctic regions writers’ works, as well as arranging a special course on the literature of the Peoples living in the Russian Arctic region: the Sakha, Evens, Evenks, Yukagirs, Chukchi, Koryaks and other Peoples. The course is aimed at the identification of the relations between the literature of the Arctic space as a whole and the global literary process. The comparative method should be used in studying literature, since this contributes to better learning of the discipline.

Undoubtedly, the communicative skills of students are needed, since the literature of the Arctic regions peoples is seen more easily through the lens of their native language and culture, because for the majority of students of the republic the Russian language is not mother tongue. Despite this, the students want to improve their knowledge of the Russian language.

In this regard, practical classes in international and national literature should aim at the consolidation and development of communication skills by reading works and completing tasks on them. An interactive course, including both group and individual tasks on readings, discussion platforms and other forms of classes can encourage students to develop their communication skills.

Many university students of the republic are the representatives of the peoples of the Arctic area of the Russian Federation. That is why they have a competitive advantage in the study of national literature and scientific work on literary relations between the literature of the Arctic zone of Russia and the world. The results of the study can be used in preparing educational materials.

The main goal of intercultural education is to compare the linguistic material, analyze the rules and features of communication in Russian, native and foreign languages and value of other cultures as well as to compare and apply the results to own culture of the students. The result of this is a meaningful image of the world with cultural diversity, care and respect for your own and other cultures (Furmanova, 1994).

Conclusion

The students of different ethnic groups from Yakutia, Russia and foreign countries study in ASICA. There are the representatives of indigenous and minority peoples of the North and the Arctic among the students of the institute. Many of them are bilingual persons and they can speak Russian and their native languages (Yakut, Evenk, Chukchi and others). They study in Russian, the official language of the Russian Federation. They also study foreign languages (English, French, German and Italian).

Including the Arctic component in the content of language courses is one of the factors of the improvement of intercultural communication competence of students. The teaching process should be based on a personal-activity approach and accompanied by comparative linguistic and cultural analyses.

Also, including the Arctic component allows solving several pedagogical problems – language teaching, personality-developing and communicative training skills needed in future professional work.

In studying domestic, foreign and national literature, an integrated approach should be applied. This approach contributes to the creation of sustainable intercultural and communicative competencies. The methodology of teaching literature should aim at mastering the discipline and developing communication skills in interactive classes and lectures, the formation of scientific work skills within the discipline.

References

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Publisher

European Publisher

First Online

27.02.2021

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2021.02.02.59

Online ISSN

2357-1330