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Specialist Language Courses

SLC Goes to Moscow!

Last week, Chris Moore, SLC’s Managing Director was invited to spend a few days at Sechenov University in Moscow. Here is his report on the trip.

“I was delighted to spend a few days at Sechenov University in Moscow last week on a trip hosted by Professor Irina Markovina, Director of Foreign Languages. Sechenov is Russia’s biggest and most prestigious medical university, with 14,000 undergraduate and 15,000 postgraduate students, 19 hospitals and 7 research institutes. The university have been using our English for Doctors course for a few months now, and we wanted to discuss a wider collaboration face-to-face.

It was my first time in Russia, let alone Moscow, so I was intrigued and excited by what I would experience while there. There were a number of highlights.

  1. Partnership.

We held extensive discussions on how to further grow our partnership with the University. Together, we aim to create versions of SLC’s online Medical English courses tailored to the Russian market. This will be both for the Doctors course, already used by Sechenov, and for others, including the soon-to-be-released English for Pharmacy and English for Medical Academic Purposes courses.

Speaking to both Irina and the Vice Rector for Innovation and International Affairs, Professor Andrey Svistunov, it is clear that the university is internationalising quickly and is building the English language standards and competencies of staff and students as part of this. We’re very much looking forward to working with Irina and her team on this very exciting project.

  1. Graduation Ceremony.

I was delighted to meet a number of Irina’s colleagues who had successfully completed the English for Doctors course. They all received certificates in a simple ceremony, and I was able to understand at first hand what they liked about the course and what they felt needed improving.

All the participants were in fact very positive about their experience of the course. It was good to hear their wide-ranging reasons for taking it and how they would use the language they learnt, from attending international conferences, to teaching international students, to discovering the language of medical fields outside their particular specialisms. They all found the listening and pronunciation activities to be particularly useful, perhaps reflecting a wish to communicate more effectively in English as a key motivation.

On where to improve the course, there was a general feeling that an e-book containing the key language inputs of the course would be useful. This would allow participants to have a permanent reference which they could access on their phone or tablet. We’ve already spoken about this at SLC and believe we can create something of real value to our learners on all our courses. Watch this space!

  1. Masterclass on Blended Course Design.

It was a pleasure to be invited by Irina to deliver a masterclass on blended learning to her team at the university, who are working on creating a new online grammar course for their students. I spoke about the differences (and similarities) between teacher-led classes and online self-study and how they can – at least in our experience – be combined to use the best of both delivery modes. We were able to discuss the programmes we create and teach at SLC and discuss the team’s questions and ideas in some depth.

  1. Sechenov-Cambridge Summer School.

I attended the opening of the inaugural Sechenov-Cambridge summer school, an international programme for students from Sechenov, Cambridge University and Sechenov’s partner universities. Students were separated into international teams and would work together intensively for a week in the Urology clinic, meeting patients, observing surgery, attending lectures from eminent experts from both Russia and the UK, and giving case presentations.

Irina and I worked with the teams in their first morning, ensuring they shared a common vocabulary when discussing patients, their histories, complaints and diagnoses. It was inspiring to see the different participants communicate and co-operate effectively, working with both Russian and English inputs and quickly creating quite complex presentations. A strong symbol of international medicine in action!

  1. Cultural experience.

This was my first time in Russia, and Irina generously organised a full cultural programme, including the obligatory walk through Red Square, a tour of the city centre, the fabulous State Tretyakov Gallery, the ballet – Swan Lake of course, and a choral concert. Her colleagues who accompanied me, Istvan and Veronika, were always charming, kind and patient with this particular Englishman abroad at all times. A huge ‘thank you’ to both of them.

So, a positive and enlightening few days! I and the team at SLC look forward very much to returning to Moscow and to further deepening our relationship with Sechenov.”

Chris doing the obligatory tourist shot in a drizzly Red Square!