Scholarly article on topic 'Learning to Live in a Global World: Project-Based Learning in Multicultural Student Groups as a Pedagogy of Tolerance Strategy'

Learning to Live in a Global World: Project-Based Learning in Multicultural Student Groups as a Pedagogy of Tolerance Strategy Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Tatiana Voronchenko, Tatiana Klimenko, Irina Kostina

Abstract Reforming in the 21 century education has increased: both in its organization and contents. The role of a teacher has shifted from an expert to a designer of reflective and collaborative projects as means of providing students with effective learning contexts. In cultural diversity and assimilation educators are universally concerned with implementation of pedagogy of tolerance principles to grow up a new generation, prepared to communicate successfully in the globalization world. The problem is how we can facilitate tolerant thinking among students. The authors of the present paper generalize their experience of providing cooperative learning environments to MA course students at Zabaikalsky State University, which is in Transbaikal Siberia (Russia). The region borders on Mongolia and China, offering a perfect experimental platform to implement pedagogy of tolerance strategies through creative educational programs. The programs are developed in accordance with the recently adopted international and federal laws and conceptions, to which the authors of the present paper refer. Professor Tatyana Voronchenko, designed multicultural programs for MA and PhD students in World Literature Studies. They are aimed to increase all possible contacts among culturally diverse students. Russian and Chinese, Buryat and Mongolian student groups, involved in project-based studies, are an example to illustrate an effective way of learning to live in globalization word. The authors analyze and describe the students’ experience during project-based studies. They conclude that the students who participated in such projects showed higher tolerance to their neighbors. Project-based learning helps to master professional communication culture, overcoming communication barriers and becoming specialists with higher tolerance, ready to live and work in multicultural society.

Academic research paper on topic "Learning to Live in a Global World: Project-Based Learning in Multicultural Student Groups as a Pedagogy of Tolerance Strategy"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 191 (2015) 1489 - 1495

WCES 2014

Learning To Live In A Global World: Project-Based Learning In Multicultural Student Groups As A Pedagogy Of Tolerance Strategy

Tatiana Voronchenkoa*, Tatiana Klimenkob, Irina Kostinab

aTransbaikal (Zabaikalsky) State University, Professor, PhD, 140 Chkalov Street, Chita 672007, Russia hTransbaikal (Zabaikalsky) State University, Associate Professor, PhD, 140 Chkalov Street, Chita 672007, Russia

Abstract

Reforming in the 21 century education has increased: both in its organization and contents. The role of a teacher has shifted from an expert to a designer of reflective and collaborative projects as means of providing students with effective learning contexts. In cultural diversity and assimilation educators are universally concerned with implementation of pedagogy of tolerance principles to grow up a new generation, prepared to communicate successfully in the globalization world. The problem is how we can facilitate tolerant thinking among students. The authors of the present paper generalize their experience of providing cooperative learning environments to MA course students at Zabaikalsky State University, which is in Transbaikal Siberia (Russia). The region borders on Mongolia and China, offering a perfect experimental platform to implement pedagogy of tolerance strategies through creative educational programs. The programs are developed in accordance with the recently adopted international and federal laws and conceptions, to which the authors of the present paper refer. Professor Tatyana Voronchenko, designed multicultural programs for MA and PhD students in World Literature Studies. They are aimed to increase all possible contacts among culturally diverse students. Russian and Chinese, Buryat and Mongolian student groups, involved in project-based studies, are an example to illustrate an effective way of learning to live in globalization word. The authors analyze and describe the students' experience during project-based studies. They conclude that the students who participated in such projects showed higher tolerance to their neighbors. Project-based learning helps to master professional communication culture, overcoming communication barriers and becoming specialists with higher tolerance, ready to live and work in multicultural society. © 2015 TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of WCES 2014

Keywords: globalized world; geopolitics; multicultural education; pedagogy of tolerance; project-based learning; MA course; educational system reforming; intercultural relations; global culture communication.

* Tatiana Voronchenko. Tel.:+0-432-432-432. E-mail address: tavoronch@mail.ru

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of WCES 2014 doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.472

1. Introduction

In this article we examine issues of academic environment organizing. World community agrees that higher education in the 21 century demands reforming: both in its organization and its contents. But when you start a reform you should at least have a standardized set of basic notions and clearly determined terminology. Dealing with Pedagogy which operates universal principles and values is it the right time to think of its universally recognized strategies and approaches aiming at moldering harmonious multinational states? We think it is - when it comes to the issues of resolving war and religious conflicts, keeping to peace policies, supporting ethnic minorities and cultural diversities. We shall not dispute here over theoretical grounds and ideas. We shall describe and share our own experience of implementing pedagogy of tolerance strategies which aim at reducing interpersonal and interethnic conflicts, enriching the students' minds with the knowledge of other peoples' cultures and values. The results we get might prove helpful to others who are concerned with the same problems. Tolerance is thought to be a social value, an abstract attitude and personality measure.

1.1. Relation to the Problem

Five groups of MA course students who are representatives of Asian, western and eastern European traditions and other minority groups: the Buryats, for example. To illustrate the diversity character of Russia's population is enough to present statistics. According to it The Russian Federation is home to as many as 160 different ethnic and indigenous peoples. As of the 2010 census, 80.90% of the population is ethnically Russian, followed by (groups larger than one million):

Table 1 *. Ethnic Groups on the Territory of Russia besides Russians

Population (percentage) Nationality Number of people

3.87% Tatars (5,310,649)

1.40% Ukrainians (1,927,988)

1.15% Bashkirs (1,584,554)

1.05% Chuvashs (1,435,872)

1.04% Chechens (1,431,360)

0.86% Armenians (1,182,388)

In his "Culture Personalities" Dr. C. George Boeree states that culture has a great influence on an individual (Boeree, 2007). Imagine students who have the right to study in a different country. They come as foreigners and get the so-called cultural shock and what makes it worse they can hardly speak the language of their host country. This is the main barrier for many students as the studying process is usually organized in a foreign language. But it is the reason why many students go to other countries. They want to master both the language and the host country's culture. The teacher in his turn has a lot to think over the individual plan for such students to correspond to his writing and speaking abilities, social adaptation and readiness to teamwork. More than that to provide effective learning the teacher is to see the classroom atmosphere to avoid misunderstanding and maltreatment, let alone eliminating interethnic problems. Effective communication in Globalization World is an issue of primary concern. The role of a teacher in contemporary educational system is shifted from that of an expert to a designer of reflective

http://www.perepis-2010.ru/results_of_the_census/result-december-2011.ppt

and collaborative enquiry as a means of providing students with learning contexts, relevant to their everyday needs. To use Mary R. Lea and Barry Stierer's phrase "we must construct critical and culturally responsive teaching practices that tap into the transformative potential of young people in our classrooms" (Lea & Stierer, 2011). There are various popular terms for democratic way of learning in contemporary science: critical pedagogy, culturally relevant pedagogy and multicultural education. Recently the notion of pedagogy of tolerance has come into existence and is widely used in Russian scientific discourse, though there are cases of its use in English. See Badley's "Against Fundamentalism, for Democracy: towards a pedagogy of tolerance in higher education" (Badley, 2005). Russian educators published a lot of articles and textbooks on pedagogy of tolerance: Introduction into Pedagogy of Tolerance: a textbook for students of pedagogical universities by Borytko N.M., Solovtsova I.A., Baibakov A.M. (Borytko & Solovtsova & Baibakov, 2006). As to the contents of education teachers embrace all its aspects: concerning gender, age, culture and social status of students. The task is to shape ideal contents for "post -Enlightenment culture with its values of freedom, humanism, imagination, individuality and tolerance" (Badley, 2005). Racial conflicts, terroristic acts and religious wars - these are fruits of fundamentalism and intolerance which become commonplace and threat the ideas of freedom and equality, openness and international security - all those things which determine Global World ethics and issues to develop global culture communication principles and work out educational strategies to teach students to learn to live in contemporary global world. To do away with mental grounds that undermine global living principles educators are well aware that it cannot be done just here and now. This will take time to grow another generation of people. Pedagogy of tolerance should guide the lines of new educational programs. Pedagogy of tolerance aims at conditioning and working out communication culture in the age of multiculturalism. Tolerant thinking can be fostered in schools and universities through cooperative learning environments where students thus become readers of their world(s), working to solve issues relevant and meaningful to them (Freire, 2000). Critical pedagogy has much in common with culturally relevant pedagogy and multicultural education. But what is the image of contemporary communication culture which is thought to provide successful intercultural relations? What are the qualities we should encourage in our students not to dissipate their individuality and identity on the one hand and to make them eager and ready to study, interpret and accept strangers' cultures on the other?' What attitudes shall we develop in our younger generation for them to live in peace and harmony, having neither intentions nor evident reasons to come into conflicts?

2. Reforming educational system principles

In spite of the fact that tolerance is a basic and fundamental value that is to be brought up in contemporary world community the world is sick and tired of endless acts of terrorism, racial conflicts, religious wars and the oppression of minority peoples. Politics has its own ways to regulate the issues, whereas educators' mission is to shape mentality through self-experience and study: academic, personal and social. Hence, every country has its legal system to regulate educational processes - launch federal educational standards, control the stages of their implementation and draw the patterns for its contents, cultural meanings and attitudes. Like any other democratic country Russia today faces a great number of issues concerning educational system reforming. New Era education is to be based on Russia's federal laws and doctrines accepted by the Russian community during 2000 -2010 years: National Doctrine of Russian Federation Education up to 2025 (2000); Conception of National Educational Policy in Russian Federation (2006); Intellectual and Spiritual Education Conception for a Russian Citizen (2009); the project of Multicultural Education Conception in Russia (2010) and others. Multicultural tendency in education is supported by the third generation federal standards for general and professional education, especially for Pedagogy and Psychology bachelors and masters. Russian educators work out methodologies to achieve the set goals and objectives in compliance with international and universally recognized principles, such as the "Declaration of Principles of Tolerance" signed by the members of UNESCO in 1995 (1995), "Designing Policultural Education Praxis Based on Poli-paradigm Approach" by Khakimov (2012); "Policultural Competence Development in the System of Foreign Language Education" by Khalyapina, Elizarova (2010); "Linguistic Policultural Education: Theory and Practice" by Sisoyev (2008); "Students' International Relations" by Absalyamova (2006); "First steps in Multicultural Education in Russia" by Dyuzhakova (2008). Developing A. Portera's idea of peoples' opportunity to exchange views and values, thus becoming mutually enriched and having analyzed different models of multicultural education, professor Khakimov (2012) defines multicultural education as the one, "which conjugates two or more

cultural traditions regarding contents, methods and forms of organization with the purpose of revealing cultural diversity phenomena to students as a social norm and a personal value; accepting and appropriating Culture and Man images as results of creative intercultural mutual enrichment".

According to I.A. Kolesnikova (2001) historically there are three pedagogical paradigms: transcendental which implies introduction of students to cultural tradition, technocratic which suggests students' acquiring knowledge and humanitarian which guides students on their way of making up their own personality.

Naturally, contemporary teachers and learners are well aware of these. For practical reasons they are used simultaneously, depending on the material studied, methods of teaching and learning and forms of educational process organization.

3. Research Context

The authors of the presented paper will share their own experience in project-based teaching and learning process focusing on describing multicultural groups of students who get their Master degrees in World Literature Studies. Professor Tatyana Voronchenko, head of the World Literature Course and research laboratory, conducting researches on global issues of multiculturalism, ethnicity and identity, intercultural communication and mass media, primarily based on descriptive and contrastive studies of American, Mexican, Hispanic and Russian Literature, designed various MA and PhD educational programs to meet the demands of local students, who come from diverse cultural, social and religious backgrounds. The programs are aimed to increase all possible contacts among culturally diverse students. Zabaikalsky Krai, Transbaikal Territory of the Russian Federation, borders on China and Mongolia. There are various ethnic minorities in the population structure of the region, including the Buryats, the Tartars, the Mongols, the Armenians, and representatives of other former Soviet Republics. They come to become students of Zabaikalsky State University, thus presenting a body of multinational, multireligious and multicultural nature, providing a perfect experimental ground to implement pedagogy of tolerance strategies. Teachers either authored a new course or radically changed an old one in an effort to incorporate project-based pedagogy and supporting technologies. The typology of such programs is varied. They are content-oriented, student-oriented and socially-oriented depending on the goals: to bring up tolerance as a social value, an abstract attitude or personality measure.

4. Teaching tolerance through project-based learning

One of the priorities in contemporary higher education policy is integration of science and education. The Bologna Declaration on the European space for higher education points that multilevel system of education, which aims at providing MA course students with special competencies, help to achieve this goal. In accordance with these requirements "Russian Federal State Educational Standard of Higher Education" (2010) prescribes the following activities to get master's degree in Philology: research, pedagogical, applied, as well as a project one. Projecting is given a particular attention as it develops a student's creative (designing) competence. Being competent in this ort of activity the future graduates can set a number of goals, and then plan their strategies to fulfill them at different time spans; after they can objectively assess their results, reflect and correct each step, summarize and present the product. Projecting competence results in much more successful learning, giving preference to innovative and developmental strategies. By the graduation time a student has become a specialist who knows methodology of science and organizational principles of scientific research. We shall focus on describing ethnic tolerance development through intercultural communication. For the Transbaikal Region of Russia, which borders on China and Mongolia, it is important to develop economical, educational and scientific ties with its neighbors. The number of Chinese students studying in our region has doubled during recent years. 300 Chinese students study at Zabaikalsky State University, covering bachelor, master and post-graduate courses. The authors will specify their experience of intercultural relations with students of MA course in World Literature. The program is designed for both Russian and Chinese students specializing in European, American, Chinese, Mongolian and Russian Literature. Studying process conditions Intercultural Dialogue, which is to become the foundation of a tolerant personality, be he a Russian or a Chinese citizen. The concept of tolerance has its history. It is one of the factors that help evolutionary development. Sprung from a self-preservation instinct, tolerance has become a social value and a norm.

Today it is one of the main principles of people's communication. UNESCO member countries explained at the conference in Paris that tolerance plays a crucial role for economical and social progress. Tolerance towards another person, nation or culture is one of the fundamentals of harmonious existence in today's world. Sociologist Shchekoldina is right when she says that tolerance indicates political, legal, psychological and ecological culture maturity, as well as it indicates a nation's intellectual and spiritual richness and high level of social awareness (Schekoldina, 2004). Security threat problems in contemporary world become urgent (the Middle East and Arab countries, Russia's conflicts in Chechnya) whereas in Globalization World there are no clear-cut boundaries and local territories. "Tolerance and extremism preventing in Russian society: recommendations of the Russian Federation Public Chamber" (2006) reminds that such phenomena as intolerance, ethno separatist conflicts, and religious extremism undermine peaceful community and international stability. Intolerance is opposed to diversity which is a necessary factor for human progress. It ruins democracy principles and violates human rights. Tolerance contents and boundaries are different. They depend on cultural traditions, personal development, social standards and other factors. Ethnic tolerance may be displayed in various critical situations of interpersonal and intrapersonal choice, when elaborated in a different social-cultural way of life stereotypes and norms do not work, and new norms and stereotypes undergo the stage of crystallizing. As Spaniel points out, a person's ethnic tolerance is revealed in problematic situations during collaborating with representatives of other ethnic groups (Spaniel, 2002).

4.1. Samples of Project Tasks and Research

The discussed MA course offers project tasks aiming at developing ethnic tolerance among Russian and Chinese students. They help to solve the following issues: determine the level of tolerant attitude to other ethnic groups' representatives; raising the issues of extremism and aggression towards representatives of other nationalities to stop them; teaching the culture of tolerant behaviour in interethnic relationships; learning national traditions of different peoples. Thus, in the course of National Stereotypes and Intercultural Communication students can choose the following topics for their project research: Stereotypes in Developing Ethnic Identity; Mutual Perception and Acceptance of Representatives of Various Ethnic Groups, Living on the Territory of Transbaikal Region; Specificity of Perception and Interpretation of Stereotypes in Literary Texts; The Problem of Cultural Identity; Mass Media and Their Role in Generating National Stereotypes; National Stereotypes as Sources of Intercultural Conflicts; Ways to Foster Positive Attitudes to Other Cultures and so on. Project tasks, aiming at revealing auto- and hetero stereotypes can be described briefly here. Students are divided into two teams: Chinese and Russian to take part in associative experiment, registering a chain of answers. The task for conducting the experiment is as follows: What are Russians like? (for Chinese team). And vice versa. The words "Russia" and "China" are stimuli. The results of the experiment are discussed during media presentations while sharing and comparing personal views and observations. Another task is to present this or that nation with the help of graphics. The students picture a 'typical Russian' (American, Chinese, etc.). In this case pictorial presentation is mixed with verbal. Then the class analyzes the results. Before starting the projects it is necessary to reveal the level of tolerance among the students through learning their values, their reaction to intolerance towards representatives of different national and ethnic groups. For example, an incorrect questionnaire may become a source of a conflict. One of the Chinese MA course students when doing his project suggested Chinese pupils of Hailar answering a number of questions concerning instances of intolerance to representatives of other national groups. The question was to find out whose side the interviewee would take if he saw fighting between a Han-Chinese and an Evenk-Chinese. This question could provoke a conflict, as it raises emotive disapproval. Priority is given to teamwork projects as teamwork generates cooperation. Studying in mixed teams (Russian and Chinese, for example) helps to exchange ideas about each other interests, values, etc. Thus, doing one of the tasks to reveal cognitive and axiological components within stereotype structure the students name a couple of qualities, which are called 'werewolf-attributions' (Stefanenko, 1999). The students bear in mind that stereotypes having different emotive-evaluative contents may have one and the same cognitive constituent and imply one and the same feature, peculiar to a certain people. For instance, the stereotypes "Germans are mean", "Germans are economical" and "Germans know how to spend money" (auto-stereotype) - in fact, generalize and summarize one and the same phenomenon, but they evaluate it differently. We should point out that at every stage of the project it is possible to distinguish its situational leader: generator of ideas leader, researcher-leader, product presenter leader, presentation director leader, etc. Tolerant relationships are important within a project team. Their

stable character results in successful realization of the project. The realization of the project can be organized according to the scheme suggested by Polat (Polat, 2000). It includes several stages of the project: analytical, modeling, designing, technological and final assessment ones. At the first stage - analytical - the students choose the field of research within which they will realize the project. The final results at this stage are formulated goals and tasks of the project, as well as its detailed plan. This stage includes information collecting and analyzing with sorting out relevant sources and researching them. As groups are culturally mixed, these informational resources may be both Russian and Chinese. At the second stage - modeling - MA course students set to initial stage of projecting, i.e. planning a certain scheme of the future project. Any project is a result of innovative-scientific search. Cooperation allows to comparatively analyze the material relevant for the project. At designing stage they work actively trying various methods and techniques. Materials at this stage become basis for future conference reports or publications. The results are presented using media. During the last three years students of World Literature Studies Program have become active participants in Russian and international online conferences, where they present papers of co-writing (Russian-Chinese) based on results of the projects. The final stage -discussion - is also assessment of the presented project. The quality criteria are: corresponding to requirements of educational services market, practical and scientific input of the project. Besides presenting their projects MA course students report according to formal blanks, which is to describe realization of the project, they present their portfolio and a review written by a qualified specialist of a certain scientific field.

5. Conclusions

Project-based learning has to be set on a systemic work principle, which provides interdependence and compellability of all the stages and elements. Project-based learning in international student groups generates high level respect and self acceptance combined with respect and tolerance towards a different nation representative. In collaboration there is deep existential community of people, which is so important in contemporary globalizing society. Tolerance which is taught through project-based learning defines the further choice of cooperation strategies, respect for dissent instances, understanding different social phenomena. Thus, project-based learning generates not only professional competencies, but tolerant culture of a person, who will be ready to positively change the world community.

Acknowledgements

A major research project is never the work of anyone alone. The contributions of many different people, in their different ways, have made this possible. Professor Tatiana Voronchenko and her colleagues would like to extend their appreciation especially to the following MA course, post-graduate and graduate students: Paul Pivtorak, Khou Lin, Vei Khun Bo, Vasilij Angarskij, Lu Tsi Syan, Julia Zvereva, Nina Tzou Khun, Baira Abiduyeva, Ekaterina Zherebtsova, Anastasia Skopina and many other creative students of Zabaikalsky State University, Chita, Russia.

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