Russia: Teaching several languages to primary school children is proving successful

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011

We start to learn about the world around us from the very first steps of our lives. And these steps are very important. Experts say the basic knowledge we obtain in preschool years can influence our future choices for a career, social activities and how we behave in adult life.

At what age are children susceptible to learning foreign languages or to handle new technologies? In every country, the approach for preschool education differs greatly.

In Russia, the multilingual kindergartens, where children can learn up to two foreign languages along with their native language, are becoming more and more popular. How does this work?
Janna Sugak, Director of kindergarten “Golden key” said, "At this age (primary school age) learning a foreign language is not about learning by parrot fashion. That approach does not really work. We have to create a role-play situation, to create a proper linguistic environment that will be adapted for children's understanding. That way the kids will act in a responsive way and feel at the same level as the adults."
This helps to develop their first passive vocabulary and then very quickly their active one. But the experts say, it's not only about communicating with the world. Learning different languages helps children stimulate their brain activity.

That approach is becoming more popular not only in Russia but also abroad. There are more than 8,500 Russian multilingual kindergartens and schools all over the world in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
Alexander Adamsky, “Eureka" Institute of Educational Policy said, "We developed our methodology that can be used everywhere. Learning three or even four foreign languages is not a problem at all. Moreover, it boosts their willingness to study other subjects. Let’s say, the morning begins in English, then dance or theatre classes in French, and at the end of the day the kids play in a third language."

Technical Sciences and New Technologies

In Kaliningrad, they have what’s called ‘Kvantoriums’. These are centres of additional school education, where children can learn the basics of robotics, coding and much more. It’s free and accessible for everyone.

The approach towards children is completely different. The ‘Kvantorium’ program was launched in Russia two years ago. Today there are more than 80 educational centres all over the country with more than a hundred thousand pupils attending them on a regular basis.

Gosha is 12 years and said, "We had a task to make a robot guide for a local museum in our town. We made a prototype and now we have to debug it."

The ‘Kvantoriums’ are open for every child from the age of 11-12 years. There is no special preselection process. The only condition is that children have to work in a team.

One of the tutors said, "The teachers are there only to show the right direction. The children have to work on their projects by themselves from the very beginning until the end."

The ‘Kvantoriums’ are mobile and were specifically developed for rural areas so that children living in remote places can have access to new technologies as well.

Marina Rakova. Founder of “Kvantorium” technoparks network said, "There’s nothing equivalent to our 'Kvantorium' educational program anywhere in the world. We have a request for the transfer of technology from 20 countries of the world, therefore, together with Rossotrudnichestvo we plan that in 2019 two such mobile Kvatoriums will also travel abroad.'
Russia: Teaching several languages to primary school children is proving successful

Likes: Ian Jeffrey
Feb 2019
There are two main reasons behind the introduction of foreign languages in primary classrooms. The first is the belief that ‘the younger the better’, the idea that young children are intrinsically better language learners, and will therefore become more proficient more quickly. The second is that in an increasingly globalized world, intercultural competence is essential, and that it is important to awaken children’s interests in other people and cultures at a time when they are open and receptive.
Jul 2013
Nashville, TN
The US primary and secondary school system is not the best. But we do rate in the top 10.

The 10 most educated countries in the world
  • Israel. 49.90 percent.
  • Korea. 46.86 percent.
  • United Kingdom. 45.96 percent.
  • United States. 45.67 percent. Joe Daniel Price | Getty Images. Oxford University.
  • Australia. 43.74 percent.
  • Finland. 43.60 percent.
  • Norway. 43.02 percent.
  • Luxembourg. 42.86 percent.
  • The 10 most educated countries in the world
May 2016
Younger people learn languages easier but there is some concern amongst academics that it may also be detrimental to cognitive development. But to avoid a tower of Babylon (assuming you are not learning something like an old language with all it's modern borrow words) I suppose that being aware of that possibility makes it easier to deal with.
Likes: The Man
Jul 2013
Nashville, TN
Is the Ivy league representative of the average level of academic learning in the USA……. ? The real question is more to see if there are enough skilled people in a population to prepare the future ?
The real fear is the anti-science, anti-education trend we have in the US, fueled by ignorance and hate.
Dec 2013
If you want to sell something to someone you better speak his language…. English may be a lingua franca but when 2 non native English speakers deal in English, there is always a risk of misunderstanding. Which meaning words cover for each of them ?

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