Russian Academy course: A complete overview of Russian history
If you’ve been keeping up with these blogs, you might know that I have finally made it to Russia! Although I had to isolate for two weeks upon arrival, thankfully this has now finished and I am steadily beginning to explore St Petersburg and all it has to offer. As I have only been ‘free’ for about a week now, I haven’t managed to visit many cultural sites yet; I’ll be sure to update the blog when I have done. For now, however, I thought I would take the opportunity to explain a bit about the Russian Academy history course at Liden & Denz. Read on to find about the supplementary history lessons I’ve been attending, what they’re all about, and who can attend too.
What is it?
The Russian Academy programme is basically a short lecture-style history course taken alongside your language lessons at Liden & Denz. The course length can be flexible – mine has lasted for 5 months, but it can be longer if you’re staying in Russia for a particular length of time. One of the advantages of this course is that it qualifies you for a study visa in Russia for up to a year, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to really immerse yourself in Russian! For four hours a week (2 x 2 hour sessions), you will study in a small group and learn all about Russian history. You don’t need to have studied history before; the lectures are accessible and easy to understand for everybody. They are, however, entirely in Russian, so this course is only for those who are already at A2 level in Russian. But don’t worry; the course teacher is a skilled linguist and is always readily able to translate any tricky words.
What do you learn about?
This history course is one of the most intensive courses I’ve ever done! The course is taught in chronological order, so one of my very first lessons was all about Kievan Rus’ in the 9th century, the very beginnings of Russia. We have steadily progressed through different time periods, including Decentralisation in the 13th century and 16th century Russian reforms. We are currently learning about the First World War and Civil War in Russia. My course hasn’t finished yet, so I still have some more lessons to go; our next few lessons will be about the USSR in the 20th century. Having studied some of this history at school, it feels vaguely familiar to me already. However, one of my favourite things about studying Russian history actually in Russia is how it differs to studying history in the UK. Russian history taught in a UK school was of course quite in-depth too – yet studying in Russian has meant that we are able to look at primary sources, and learn about the history of the country in its own language, instead of through translations. I did get quite a shock when I realised that I have been pronouncing the names of some historical places wrong for about four years though, as in the UK my history teacher of course did not speak Russian. In my UK history class, for example, we always pronounced the town Sevastopol as Se-VA-sto-pol – but it is actually pronounced Se-va-STO-pol (Севасто́поль) in Russian. Completely different!
When do the lessons take place?
Currently, my classes take place from 6pm to 8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This suits me perfectly – as my group language lessons finish at 2pm, I have time to grab some lunch, study at school in in the afternoon, and have a quick wander up Nevsky Prospect before heading back to school for my evening lesson. However, our teacher Garold is very flexible and we have often switched days if somebody cannot make the class.
I am lucky enough to have made it to St Petersburg, but if you have been keeping up with these blogs, you will know that for many months I was studying online in the UK! However, this was no problem for the history course; for the first few months, all our lessons all took place virtually, and I was able to watch the slide presentation and lecture via Zoom (alongside most of my classmates). Now that I am in Russia, our lessons have been taking place in ‘hybrid’ format – we have some students online and some in school. This makes the class really accessible even for those who are unable to travel right now.
Who are the lessons available for?
Anyone with a strong interest in history and Russian! The only requirement to do the course is an A2 level in Russian. Of course, it does help if you have studied history at some point in the past, but it is by no means a prerequisite. Over time, you’ll develop a deep knowledge of historical and cultural vocabulary in Russian, as well as get a fantastic overview of almost the entirety of the history of Russia. I would strongly recommend it for anybody looking for a more intensive experience at Liden & Denz.
For more information about the Academy course, click here.
Interested in Russian history but not sure where to start? Check out our previous blog post all about the history of St Petersburg.