Developing an appreciation and understanding of one of the world’s most interesting and different languages.
Russian is an unusual and impressive subject to have on your university application form and CV. Russia is the largest country on the planet and in the post-Soviet era it continues to have undeniable importance both politically and economically. Learning a modern foreign language is a key skill and Russian stimulates students in a unique way due to its alphabet – it’s like learning a secret code! Students develop the confidence to communicate in a new language and to express opinions on a wide variety of topics. Russian presents students with an enjoyable challenge in terms of its grammar and vocabulary, but it also offers an opportunity to learn about Russia’s rich and varied cultural heritage.
During the first month of Year 9 pupils learn to read and write the Cyrillic script. They are excited by the fascinating alphabet and find a great sense of achievement in how quickly they master it. Once learnt, Russian can be read quite easily because it is a phonetic language and is therefore more straightforward than it appears and by the end of the first term pupils are writing in Russian without difficulty. By the end of Year 9 pupils can write complex descriptions on a variety of topics. Their sentences show confident use of connectives and interesting structures as well as lively content. When they opt for GCSE, they begin writing detailed essays in all tenses and spend time developing their oral skills through regular conversation practice. GCSE Russianists also have the opportunity to take part in the biennial trip to Moscow and St Petersburg, which is a fantastic linguistic and cultural experience and one that remains with them long afterwards.
“GCSE Russian shall always be one of the highlights of my school career.” Middle School student
A Level Russian students move beyond the familiar topics of GCSE and soon begin to encounter authentic texts in order to practise the skill of reading for meaning in a foreign language. Throughout the two year course they seek to consolidate their grasp of abstract vocabulary in order to improve their reading and listening skills. At A Level students tackle topics such as Russian history, politics, culture and social issues, examining the country’s turbulent past as well as its intriguing present. They constantly develop their translation skills, both into Russian and into English, and they begin to write essays on cultural topics. In order to produce accurate and complex Russian, students spend a considerable amount of time examining and practising new grammatical structures. Having the confidence to speak in a foreign language is crucial for success. In addition to oral work in class, students of Russian in Year 12 are able to practise their oral skills in pairs in their weekly lesson with the Russian conversationalist; in Year 13 they have individual conversation lessons. In their final year they research a topic of their own choice in preparation for the presentation and discussion component of the A Level oral exam.
Finally, students study a contemporary Russian film and also read a classic work of literature during lessons. This not only prepares them for the essay paper, but also offers them an insight into the fascinating cultural history of Russia. Learning Russian is not just about taking exams in a foreign language. It is about gaining an understanding of a uniquely rich heritage and finding a way to communicate with people who live in a country which still plays a significant role in the world today. Students can take part in the annual exchange with our partner school in Russia, the Novgorod Lycee; this is a unique opportunity for students to experience real Russian life and also improve their spoken Russian before their A Level oral exam!
To give an idea of the exam results which pupils at Ipswich School achieve at A Level, we have provided an average of the results in Russian over the most recent three year period (2017, 2018 and 2019) A* 52%, A*-A 87%, A*-B 94%, A* – C 100%
“Thank you so much for introducing me to the magnificent language of Russian. Russian lessons have been continuously the most fun for the last five years.” Sixth Former
Follow us on twitter @IpswichRussian.