Japanese language education in Russia

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Japanese language education in Russia formally dates back to December 1701 or January 1702, when Dembei, a shipwrecked Japanese merchant, was taken to Moscow and ordered to begin teaching the language as soon as possible.[1] A 2006 survey by the Japan Foundation found 451 teachers teaching the language to 9,644 students at 143 institutions; the number of students had grown by 4.8% since the previous year.[2][3] Aside from one Japanese-medium school serving Japanese people in Russia (the Japanese School in Moscow, founded in 1965[4]), virtually all Japanese language education in Russia throughout history has been aimed at non-native speakers.

History[edit]

Tsarist Russia[edit]

Russian interest in Japan dated back to the early 17th century, when Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator's descriptions of Japan were translated into Russian. (The Russian ambassador to China at the time, Nikolai Spafariy, also tried to gather information about Japan.) However, the first real knowledge of the Japanese language would come from Dembei, a shipwrecked native of Japan who had become stranded on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Despite repeated protests and an expressed desire to return to Japan, Dembei was taken to Moscow by Vladimir Atlasov in December 1701 or January 1702 and ordered by Peter the Great to teach Japanese to a small group of young Russian men.[1] It is believed he finally began teaching in 1705.[5] Japanese education in Russia continued throughout the 18th century, using as teachers Japanese fishermen who, like Denbei, drifted ashore in the Russian Far East and, due to the sakoku policy of the Tokugawa Shogunate, found themselves unable to return to Japan.[6] However, Japanese studies were not included in the official programmes of Russian universities until the 1898 establishment of the Department of Japanese Philology at Saint Petersburg University.[7] Soon afterwards, Serge Elisséeff would become the first Russian to undergo higher education in Japan, graduating from Tokyo Imperial University in 1912; however, he did not return to Russia, but instead remained overseas, taking up a post at the Sorbonne in 1917.[5]

Soviet era[edit]

Japanese language education suffered setbacks during the Great Purge. Notable scholars killed during this period include Yevgeny Polivanov, designer of the official system for the Cyrillization of Japanese,[8] and Nikolai Nevskii, who specialised in Okinawan studies.[5] Later, during the Nikita Khrushchev era, increasing numbers of Russians went back to Japan as international students, but few returned to become teachers, due to the low salaries.[6]

After the Soviet breakup[edit]

In the Russian census of 2002, 24,787 people claimed knowledge of the Japanese language, making it the 65th-most known language (behind Vietnamese and ahead of Andian).[9] With only 835 people claiming Japanese ethnicity (nationality) in that census,[10] Japanese is thus one of only two East Asian languages in Russia for which the population of speakers outnumbers the population of the ethnic group to which the language belongs. The other such language is Chinese, which has 59,235 speakers in Russia and is the 44th-most known language,[9] but only 34,577 members of the nationality.[10]

Most students chose Japanese for economic rather than cultural reasons. Study of the language is noted as being most popular in the Russian Far East,[6] especially among Sakhalin Koreans.[11] Also, despite the dispute between Russia and Japan over the Kuril islands, increasing numbers of Russian people in the southernmost islands, such as Shikotan and Kunashiri, are studying Japanese for purposes of daily communication with Japanese, with whom they come into frequent contact.[12]

Russophone learners of Japanese make both phonological and grammatical errors when speaking the language, due to cross-linguistic interference from Russian.[13][14]

Standardised testing[edit]

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test has been offered in Russia since 1998,[6] at first only in Moscow, but since 2001, in Vladivostok as well. Since the test's introduction, the number of examinees has risen by an average of 21% per year.[15] In 2006, the list of test sites was further expanded to include Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk, and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk; the number of examinees also showed record growth, more than doubling as compared to the previous year.[16] However, JETRO's Business Japanese Test was not offered in Russia or any other former Soviet Union member state as of 2006.[17]

JLPT examinees in the
Commonwealth of Independent States
Year Country City Number of Examinees by Level
L1 L2 L3 L4 Total
2006[16] Kazakhstan Almaty 50 98 135 91 374
Russia Khabarovsk 18 56 89 63 226
Moscow 64 259 465 374 1,162
Novosibirsk 12 61 115 82 270
Vladivostok 23 92 105 85 305
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk 5 32 78 89 204
Ukraine Kiev 29 89 127 109 354
Uzbekistan Tashkent 61 111 145 88 405
2005[18] Kazakhstan Almaty 28 43 68 25 164
Russia Moscow 48 197 316 287 848
Vladivostok 23 56 97 55 231
Ukraine Kiev 27 63 120 54 284
Uzbekistan Tashkent 41 101 122 69 333
2004[19] Kazakhstan Almaty 34 63 61 28 186
Russia Moscow 33 168 265 310 776
Vladivostok 23 94 58 58 233
2003[20] Kazakhstan Almaty 41 87 42 24 194
Russia Moscow 34 157 224 207 622
Vladivostok 20 73 61 45 199
2002 Data missing
2001[15] Russia Moscow 34 78 173 159 444
Vladivostok 17 34 84 38 173
2000[21] Russia Moscow 26 120 122 94 362
1999[22] Russia Moscow 24 101 135 88 348
1998 Russia Moscow - - - - 278

Result for 2013, in 8 sites, June + December sessions : N1: 213 N2: 639 N3: 838 N4: 1078 N5: 1316 Total: 4084 (The number of levels increased to 5 in 2009)

[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lensen, George Alexander; Lensen, George Alexander (April 1961), "The Russian Push Toward Japan: Russo-Japanese Relations, 1697-1895", American Slavic and East European Review, 20 (2): 320–321, doi:10.2307/3000924, JSTOR 3000924 
  2. ^ 2005年海外日本語教育機関調査結果: ロシア (Results of the 2005 survey of overseas Japanese language educational institutions: Russia) (in Japanese), Japan Foundation, 2005, retrieved 2008-01-12 [dead link]
  3. ^ 2006年海外日本語教育機関調査結果: ロシア (Results of the 2006 survey of overseas Japanese language educational institutions: Russia) (in Japanese), Japan Foundation, 2006, retrieved 2008-01-12 [dead link]
  4. ^ モスクワ日本人 学校の歩み, Japanese School in Moscow, archived from the original on 2006-11-14, retrieved 2006-12-01 
  5. ^ a b c Hirano, Ko (2006-11-16), "St. Petersburg U. vows to rev up Japan studies", Kyodo News, retrieved 2006-12-03 
  6. ^ a b c d Kobayashi, Tadashi (February 2002), Japanese Language Education in Russia, Opinion Papers, Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia, retrieved 2009-08-14 
  7. ^ Bessonova, Elena, Japanese Studies at Moscow State University, Congresso Internacional de Estudos Japoneses no Brasil, retrieved 2006-12-01 
  8. ^ "Sixth Polivanov Readings open in Smolensk", Pravda (English Edition), 2003-05-20, retrieved 2006-12-03 
  9. ^ a b Население по национальности и владению русским языком по субъектам Российской Федерации (in Russian), Федеральная служба государственной статистики, archived from the original (Microsoft Excel) on 2006-11-04, retrieved 2006-12-01 
  10. ^ a b ">Владение языками (кроме русского) населением отдельных национальностей по республикам, автономной области и автономным округам Российской Федерации (in Russian). Федеральная служба государственной статистики. Archived from the original (Microsoft Excel) on 2006-11-04. Retrieved 2006-12-01. 
  11. ^ Baek, Il-hyun (2005-09-14), "Scattered Koreans turn homeward", Joongang Daily, archived from the original on November 27, 2005, retrieved 2006-11-27 
  12. ^ "Territorial dispute still unsolved 50 years after normalization", Kyodo News, 2006-10-07, retrieved 2006-12-03 
  13. ^ Shirai, Yasuhiro (2000), The Aspect Hypothesis: A Universal of SLA or L1 Transfer?, Cornell University 
  14. ^ Funatsu, Seiya; Kiritani, Shigeru (2000), 第二言語の摩擦音知覚における後続母音の影響-ロシア人日本語学習者における母語の干渉 (Effect of Following Vowel on Perception of Second Language Fricatives - Native language interference in Russian learners of Japanese) (in Japanese), 4 (2), Phonetic Society of Japan 
  15. ^ a b The 2000 Japanese-Language Proficiency Test Number of Examinees by Sites, The Japan Foundation, 2002-02-14, archived from the original on 2003-04-07, retrieved 2006-12-03 
  16. ^ a b Japanese Language Proficiency Test 2006: Summary of the Results (PDF), Japan Educational Exchanges and Services, The Japan Foundation, 2006, archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-10, retrieved 2007-08-22 
  17. ^ 13th JLRT (2006): A Summary Report (PDF), Japan External Trade Organization, 2006, archived from the original (PDF) on September 27, 2007, retrieved 2006-12-01 
  18. ^ Japanese Language Proficiency Test 2005: Summary of the Results (PDF), Japan Educational Exchanges and Services, The Japan Foundation, 2005, archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-11-02, retrieved 2006-12-01 
  19. ^ Japanese Language Proficiency Test 2003: Summary of the Results (PDF), Japan Educational Exchanges and Services, The Japan Foundation, 2004, archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-08-27, retrieved 2006-12-03 
  20. ^ Japanese Language Proficiency Test 2003: Summary of the Results (PDF), Japan Educational Exchanges and Services, The Japan Foundation, 2003, archived from the original (PDF) on 2004-11-17, retrieved 2006-12-03 
  21. ^ The 2000 Japanese-Language Proficiency Test Number of Examinees by Sites, The Japan Foundation, 2001-02-07, archived from the original on 2003-04-07, retrieved 2006-12-03 
  22. ^ The 1999 Japanese-Language Proficiency Test Number of Examinees by Sites, The Japan Foundation, 2000-02-07, archived from the original on 2000-10-18, retrieved 2006-12-13 
  23. ^ "Japanese Language Proficiency Test 2005: Summary of the Results" (PDF). Japan Educational Exchanges and Services, The Japan Foundation. 2013. Retrieved 2014-10-04. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Tsutsumi, Masanori (December 1992), ロシア・ソビエトにおける日本語研究 (Studies of the Japanese Language in Russia and USSR) (in Japanese), Japan: Tokai University Press, ISBN 4-486-01206-2 

External links[edit]