The outreach of the Russian language and interest in the Russian culture is growing worldwide. After the horrific discrimination to which Russian language was subjected in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, and lately, in Ukraine, I am glad that Russian Ministry of Education and Science, previously often criticized for inactivity and inertia, is finally starting to make bold moves in the right direction.
I love this wonderful new initiative, whose popularity seems to be mushrooming nationally and internationally! Check it out!
Today, April 16, 2016, as dawn reached various cities and countries, scores took the voluntary Russian language exam. It began in the Far East and as the sun rose, it spread all over the globe. Regardless of age, education, occupation and nationality, people challenged themselves to test their grammar and ability to write in Russian. They took it on Russian subs and icebreakers, on planes and while on an exotic nature tour, in Moscow, Estonia, Japan and China…
This is a new Russian tradition, born a few years ago in Novosibirsk, Western Siberia. It’s called : ‘Totalny Diktant’ – Russian: “Тотальный диктант,” and its popularity is taking over the world. Language diktant in itself is a very old, tried and true Russian educational tradition, which stood the test of time for centuries, and perhaps, millennia.
Diktant is translated to English as: ‘Written exam during which a teacher, or designated reader, reads aloud the secretly pre-selected text to a class (sealed envelope containing text is opened in front of students). Each student listens and writes it down verbatim, while attempting not to make any mistakes. The exam is fully handwritten. What is tested: general erudition and literary language comprehension, attention span, fast reaction (you have to keep up with the speed of dictation), grammar, spelling and punctuation.’
Phew… out of breath just trying to describe in English the meaning of the little Russian word диктант.
‘Totalny Diktant’ is organized by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. Organizers say that all top ‘students’ – everyone who makes only one mistake or zero mistakes – will receive prizes.
Totalny Diktant, in other words, ‘the total diktant,’ is so named because it is an all-encompassing simultaneous event, whose geography and outreach keep growing.
Here is a brief video with some of the exotic geography and broad outreach of today’s event – time stamps and my explanations/translation underneath the video.
At 0:25: totalny diktant taken by seamen serving on nuclear icebreaker Yamal, Murmansk; 1:00 sailors of the training tall ship Pallada, en route to Japan.
At 1:15: Listvianka village, Lake Baikal, Siberia – local adults and tourists writing their diktant at school desks. 1:20: Kungur, Permsky Krai – extreme Total Diktant: tourists write it in the wilderness of the ancient ice caves, with candles and lots of warm clothes. 1:30 Krasnoyarsk, Siberia – cozy setting of the local bar kinda clashes with this year’s diktant topic: ancient civilizations. 😉
1:40 Novosibirsk University – the birthplace of Totalny Diktant. This year’s topic and text were developed here.
At 1:50 Moscow – in this college diktant is read by Russian Minister of Education and Science, Dmitry Livanov.
Total Diktant this year is taken on all continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, S. and N. America, Australia and Antarctica. Total number of diktant venues: 2185, almost twice as many as in 2015.
At 2:18 Tallinn, Estonia – diktant gathered a record 2000 people, who packed the entire national hockey arena.
2:30 Diktant in the sky: flight Novosibirsk – Moscow.
2:36 – Totalny Diktant in China: “Russian language challenges for the Chinese: hard to tell ‘b’ from ‘p’, as well as ‘a’ and ‘o’ in those cases when they are with, or without, accent.”
2:52 Largest number of participants were in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In the two capitals the diktant text was read by famous actors, politicians, scientists and artists.
The total diktant was followed by live TV/internet guidance, with detailed tips and analysis of common mistakes.
3:30 One of the many unusual venues: Donskoy Men’s Monastery, the text read personally by Father Superior.
3:45 Pushkin, St. Petersburg venue – text read by Sergei Naryshkin, Speaker of the Russian Duma.
4:00 Japanese and Chinese students in Vladivostock, the Far East.
4/17/16 Received a question where to find info on Totalny Diktantand and who can participate.
This is a voluntary global initiative, no restrictions on age or nationality. You can do it in any country, as long as you can write in Russian. As I said, this year the exam was taken on every continent. For those interested in participating or organizing it in your city next year, here is the site. The site also includes Russian language tutorials, and as far as I understand, you can also take the diktant online. Check it out and good luck!
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