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Inga Mangus: How Russian Schools Take off
In the new school year the Russian Language School in Tallinn turns 10. The whole thing began with two girls – the daughters of the organizers. The school principal is Inga Mangus, PhD in pedagogy and author of well-known textbooks on Russian.
– How did you come up with the idea to start a school?
– When children went to Estonian school we wondered what was to be done with their Russian language and Russian cultural baggage, generally speaking. At first we tried to study with our kids ourselves, but we did not have either time or stamina. We hired a private teacher and then neighbor’s children joined our group and now there are more than 70 kids at our school.
– When are the classes held and how often?
– On weekends in several age groups – 4 academic hours daily which totals to even more hours per teacher compared to a regular school.
– In other words, this is a Sunday school, is it?
– A school of supplementary education, to be more exact; we prioritize spoken language and speech development, Russian literature, the history of Russian culture – whatever Russian kids are devoid of at Estonian schools.
– And what is the main problem of such kids? And say a few words about your key “clients”, please.
– In 90% of cases our students are Russian kids from Estonian schools. Their main problem is the lack of writing skills and scanty vocabulary – they can hardly read and do not have any Russian cultural background (they do not know literary characters, proverbs, sayings or phrases from Russian children’s films and cartoons).
– Do you have any special program? What are your teaching methods?
– Yes, we have a curriculum; our school is registered at the Estonian Ministry of Education and Science. We have even a special, unique for Estonia textbook for such children titled Tere, Russian Language along with an activity book. This is the first stage that begins with the sixth grade. The textbook capitalizes on our hands-on experience. Now we are preparing the second part.
– And what are the practical results of visits to your school?
– The results are quite impressive – our children passed all official secondary-school tests up to grade 9 inclusive!
– Do you have any school completion certificates?
– Yes, we have traditional report cards plus the Certificate of the Russian School at Pushkin Institute.