RESEARCH LIBRARY of Tomsk State University


05 November 2020
Topics discussed within language clubs

Language clubs of the Research Library are functioning successfully in the online format. Their popularity has increased, participants' pool and geography have widened, new topics for discussion have appeared. Now RL International Resource Centre holds regular meetings of five language clubs: two English clubs – “Friday English Speaking Club” and “Professors' English speaking Tuesdays”, a French club – “Club de conversation en français”, a Spanish club – “Club de Español”, and a German club – “Deutscher Sprachklub”.

"English Speaking Clubs that have a long history and traditions transferred to the online format rather quickly. Regular meetings resumed at the beginning of May", Elena Tsukanova, club's moderator and a head of the International Resource Center, commented, "In October one of the meetings of Professors' English speaking Tuesdays was held offline, then we transferred to the online format again. We discussed the goals that had been achieved during the time of distance work and education, popular TV-shows, shared information about the cities of our dreams, compared the symbols of trees in different cultures."

It's not only in Tomsk where clubs' moderators work. Ekaterina Nikulenko, a teacher at TSU Faculty of Foreign Languages and Friday English Speaking Club moderator, is in London now. It determines the choice of topics for discussion to a great extent: culture shock that one inevitably experiences adapting to a new culture, achievements that make your life happier, plans for the winter holidays.

For those who prefer a one-to-one conversation, English practice lab with Rhoda continues to function on the basis of IRC. Rhoda Ashei Mbah, a student of TSU Biological Institute, works at the International Resource Center. One can register for an online meeting (advance registration is required) and talk to Rhoda in English on the topics of interest.

During the Club de conversation en français online meeting in May the following topics were discussed: how the role of cinematography has changed in the digital era, what topics are interesting for the audience nowadays. During the offline meeting in October club's moderator Mohamed Bouizem, a student of TSU Faculty of Physics, proposed to discuss ethnic and cultural diversity. The participants of the club among whom there were students from Cameroon, Ecuador, Morocco, Russia compared customs and traditions of different countries, shared their impressions of various cultures. Nataliia Ermakova, club's curator, notes that the communication during the club is mainly in French although participants' levels of language knowledge are different. If somebody finds it difficult and switches to Russian, then other participants help him/her to find a proper French word.

"One more language club appeared in the Research Library this autumn," Elena Tsukanova added, "Sharon Ortega and Alejandra Morocho, TSU students from Ecuador, held several online meetings of the Spanish speaking club – Club de Español – in October. With numerous participants of the club they discussed traditions of Halloween celebration, played "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" game, during one of the meetings they proposed to master one's Spanish language skills with tongue twisters."

One of the major meetings of the Deutscher Sprachklub was the one with Marko Elert, a musician and translator, a member of the scientific research institute in Potsdam (Germany), in May.

"Marko willingly accepted our invitation; he had already had a rather extensive online work experience," Tatyana Burkovskaya, one of the club's moderators and a senior teacher at TSU Faculty of Historical and Political Studies, said, "In order to see and feel each other better Marko suggested using background space but not presentation slides for demonstrating words during sing-along. Not only our students who studied in a distance format from home but also many other guests from different cities – Novosibirsk, Sarapul, Bryansk, Kuznetsk, Chelyabinsk – participated in the meeting. It was for the first time that I felt how the geographical boundaries of our club can expand due to the online format. Of course, real-life communication would have made our meeting even more emotional and warm but I'm sure that all the participants felt this atmosphere of creativity and cooperation."

During the online meeting in October devoted to the Year of Germany in Russia the participants discussed how each other's language is perceived in its sounding and meaning, how the German language enters our life making it more interesting and rich, talked about favorite words, literary works, and movies that contain important culture codes and that are central to understanding each other's cultures. 14 people from Russia and Kazakhstan – mainly TSU students, participated in this meeting. Working in groups the participants discovered similarities and differences between our cultures in such aspects as traditions and superstitions, everyday life, holiday, and gastronomic traditions. Often participants shared their private stories in the course of the discussion.

Irina Dubovitskaya, a chief librarian of the German Reading Room, says that the great advantage of the online format of language clubs is that everyone can practice speaking in a foreign language no matter where they are – in Tomsk, Moscow, or even in other countries.

More detailed information about IRC clubs:

View the schedule of club meetings and register for them here.