FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDUCATION QUALITY PERCEPTION: A CASE STUDY AT A RUSSIAN UNIVERSITY
Ural Federal University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
The Bologna process has brought major changes to all the levels of the system of education in Russia, the area of foreign language teaching being no exception. One of the primary challenges of teaching foreign languages at the level of higher education was to shift from traditional educational paradigm that had been dominating for years, to a new approach that might help to resolve the discrepancy between the standards of language proficiency in Russia and abroad. The gradual introduction of international standards of language teaching requires research of the change in the perceptions of teachers and learners as it influences their understanding of language education quality. Language teaching shift to the international standards at Ural Federal University resulted in wide reference to CEFR principles and practices as well as employing techniques of teaching which are new for our environment. The study was done to meet the needs of adapting the foreign language teaching programmes to the Russian university reality. Its main objective is learning the perceptions of the results of current foreign language practices. A study was implemented in Ural Federal University in 2016-2017 academic years. A total of 150 random representatives of various groups (teachers, correspondence students, master students) were asked to complete a questionnaire connected with their perceptions of education quality, quality education indicators and the importance of skills ranging. The data collected were compared across the groups of participants.
The results of the survey show a few trends:
First, the ability to speak rather than the ability to translate now appears to be one of major goals recognised by teachers and learners as indication of language learning quality. This shift in perception influences the learners’ understanding of the importance of speaking skills.
Second, there is a trend which concerns the range and the choice of skills the learners consider to be more important. Two skills the survey participants found to be most important for language learning are Reading and Speaking (General English).
Third, all teachers and learners of foreign language in the process of education recognise international certificates to be a guarantee of language quality. Another important factor of language quality is the ability to use a foreign language “freely”, i.e. naturally, conveying the meaning with appropriate means of target language.
The article presents the results of the survey with recommendations on how to ensure quality of education in the area of foreign language teaching and learning in Ural Federal University.