Russian is the latest language added to the offerings by Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), after a survey of about 500 students showed Russian to be top in demand for yet-to-be-offered languages.
The introduction of Russian brings the number of Asian and European languages offered in NTU to 14. In recent years, NTU had also introduced Hindi, Italian and Vietnamese. In 2015, NTU introduced the Singapore Sign Language which now attracts about 100 students per semester.
This is in addition to Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Spanish and Thai.
Professor Alan Chan, Dean, NTU College of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, said, “Learning a foreign language enhances our cognitive ability and opens a window into another culture. For our students, mastery of a third language beyond English and their mother tongue would sharpen their competitive edge in an increasingly globalised economy.
“NTU is ideally suited for modern language studies, with its strong international community - students can readily practise what they have learned with the many international exchange students on campus, and more importantly, develop their intercultural sensibility through connecting with friends from different cultural and linguistic traditions. This kind of learning experience will not only prepare our students well when they go on overseas exchange but also fuel their curiosity, which is very much a prerequisite for lifelong learning.”
Welcoming NTU’s initiative to introduce the Russian language, Mr Andrey A. Tatarinov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Singapore, said, “I strongly support the students who joined the NTU Russian language courses which will undoubtedly contribute to the cultural cooperation and people-to-people links between Russia and Singapore. Russian is difficult to master, but it is worth trying. It is the seventh most spoken language in the world and one of the official languages of the United Nations.”
Seah Xiang Yu, a Year Four Maritime Studies student, 26, is one of the 40 Russia enthusiasts taking the class this semester. His previous holidays to Russia, exploring Moscow, St Petersburg and the Russian Far East, have inspired him to take up Russian.
“I find the lessons engaging and we have a lot of fun speaking Russian. My favourite word is ‘babushka’, which means grandmother. Babushkas have a significant role in Russian families. They may look stern but they care a lot for others,” said Xiang Yu, who is also considering travelling to Russia for his graduation trip.
Growing interest for Singapore Sign Language
The Singapore Sign Language is another unique language offered at NTU. Started in 2015, it has now grown to five classes each semester, with about 20 students in each class.
Psychology Year Two student Goh Jing Tian, 21, is one of those who moved on to the Level Two Singapore Sign Language class after taking Level One last year. As part of the NTU Welfare Services Club’s Regular Service Project for the Deaf Community, Jing Tian gives weekly tuition to deaf and hard-of-hearing children.
She said, “Learning the Singapore Sign Language is quite fun and I felt even more motivated to work alongside the deaf. I intend to specialise in special needs education in the future, so taking up sign language classes will definitely give me an edge and help me to be better equipped in my role.”
Interactive and engaging classes
The Centre for Modern Languages administers the university’s language offerings. It evaluates and introduces new languages based on student demand and potential usage.
NTU’s language elective classes emphasise interaction and helping students to use the language in different settings. The total number of students taking these classes grew from 5,500 in academic year 2014 to 6,700 this academic year.
The top three most popular languages are Korean, Japanese and French. Students taking these three languages form half the total number of students taking language electives this year.
Students are assessed throughout the semester through written tests, quizzes, listening comprehensions, oral tests and other activities. This strengthens their four core competencies in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Outside the classroom, many language tutors also create Facebook groups or pages where they share videos and news about the particular country and culture.
Every semester, they also organise various cultural activities. For example, students can watch Russian movies in the monthly Russian Movie Club session. They also get to savour authentic treats such as Russian meat pies, Russian salad and Russian pancakes.
Ang Hui Min
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Tel: +65 6592 3557
About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
Ranked 13th in the world, NTU has also been ranked the world’s top young university for the last three years running. The University’s main campus has been named one of the Top 15 Most Beautiful in the World. NTU also has a campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg