The goal of this project is to create the first – not only in Russia but also in Europe as a whole – electronic database on the history of the study of foreign languages Seemingly, the only example of similar research is the following publication: Konrad Schröder, Biographisches und bibliographisches Lexikon der Fremdsprachenlehrer des deutschsprachigen Raumes, Spätmittelalter bis 1800, Band 1-4: Augsburg: Universität, 1991-1995. The electronic form better meets the needs of modern reseach, including information search and exchange. . The cultural history of Europe is unthinkable without the study of the process of language acquisition, because the role of language skills in the territorial mobility, in the development of trade and intellectual relations in Europe and, ultimately, in the creation of a common European space is difficult to deny. For the Russia of the Enlightenment, this subject is all the more important, because the eighteenth century is a crucial period in Russian history: it was then that an intensive technical and cultural transformation of Russian society and its integration into the European space began, and a key element of cultural modernization was the study of foreign languages. Language acquisition gave the Russians an opportunity to communicate with foreigners, to negotiate with diplomats from other countries, to translate textbooks and scientific treatises, to read books and newspapers written in a foreign language, to study at universities in Western and Central Europe... In Russia, languages were often taught by teachers coming from various European countries, and their teaching could be considered as part of the process of cultural transfer, whereas the teachers themselves could be seen as mediators between the Russian and European cultures.

State of Research on the Subject and Interest of the Database

We still know little about the process of learning languages in Russia in the eighteenth century. At the moment, there is no detailed research on the use or the study of different languages in Russia in that period An exception is the German language, which the following study is devoted to: Kristine Koch (Dahmen), Deutsch als Fremdsprache im Rußland des 18. Jahrhunderts. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Fremdsprachenlernens in Europa und zu den deutsch-russischen Beziehungen, Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, 2002. See also her article: Kristine Dahmen, „The Use, Functions, and Spread of German in Eighteenth-Century Russia“, The Russian Review, vol. 74, 1, 2015, pp. 20-40. . Most research on the history of the study of foreign languages in Russia does not concern the eighteenth century and often it deals with the history of language teaching methodology See, e.g., Е.А. Левенстерн, Из истории преподавания иностранных языков в С.-Петербургском-Ленинградском университете. Автореферат диссертации на соискание ученой степени кандидата педагогических наук, Leningrad, 1964; А.А. Миролюбов, История отечественной методики обучения иностранным языкам, Мoscow, 2002; И.В. Рахманов, Очерки по истории методики преподавания новых западно-европейских иностранных языков, Moscow, 1947; И.В. Рахманов, Очерк истории методов преподавания новых иностранных языков. Автореферат по диссертации на соискание степени доктора педагогических наук (по методике иностранных языков), Moscow, 1949. , but not the social and cultural history of their study, which is the main focus of this project. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a serious study of this question in Russia was often replaced with an attitude that was common in memoirs and was widely publicized. According to this attitude, foreign teachers working in Russia were quite mediocre, they were considered to be at least adventurers, and sometimes even hidden or overt enemies of Russia See, e.g., И.Кулакова, „Тип француза-гувернера XVIII века в русской литературе“, Literatüra, 2006, n° 48(2), pp. 7-21. . Today we do not know exactly who foreign language teachers were in Russia, nor which competence they possessed, the conditions in which the language was learned, how narrow or broad the audience learning the language was, or what language proficiency level those who represent different social layers could reach. We have little knowledge about a lot of other issues as well. To what extent knowledge of foreign and ancient languages was an indicator of exemplary education in a particular social milieu? What was the role of the private (including at home) and public education in learning languages, for example, in the case of the nobility, in Russia? In what way did representations regarding the usefulness of a particular language for different types of communication, professional activities, social image, social positioning and mobility influenced the study of the language in a particular social group? This database will provide researchers with extensive materials, the analysis of which, as we hope, will help to gain insight into many of these questions.

In Europe today, the history of the study of foreign languages is actively developed at the intersection of different disciplines: social and cultural history, the history of ideas, the history of didactics etc. This is certainly due to the place that is given to proficiency in foreign languages in the European Community today, and to the accelerating process of globalization, as well as to the understanding of the role of languages for the society and for the individual. Examples of productive research in this area include international societies for the history of language teaching and language acquisition, such as the SIHFLES Société pour l’histoire du français comme langue étrangère ou seconde. and the Matthias-Kramer-Gesellschaft Matthias-Kramer-Gesellschaft zur Erforschung der Geschichte des Fremdsprachenerwerbs und der Mehrsprachigkeit. , that regularly organize conferences and publish studies See SIHFLES publications on the following site: The following recent conferences should be mentioned: «Connecting cultures?», organised by the University of Nottingham jointly with SIHFLES (Nottingham, 2014); «(Se) former pour enseigner le français à qui ne le parle pas nativement», organised by the SIHFLES jointly with the Alliance Française (Paris, 2014); «Sprachmeister. Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte eines prekären Berufsstandes», organised by the Matthias-Kramer-Gesellschaft (Bamberg, 2014). , and research projects E.g., the project «History of Modern Language Learning and Teaching in Britain», run by Nicola McLelland (University of Nottingham) and Richard Smith (University of Warwick), see , as well as the project on the history of the French language in Russia directed by Derek Offord (University of Bristol), see  and as well as a number of recently published monographs devoted to the study of this area of knowledge E.g. Mª Eugenia Fernández Fraile and Javier Suso López, La enseñanza del francés en España (1767-1936): Estudio histórico, Granada, MÉTODO ediciones, 1999; and a series of books published by Harrasowitz: Helmut Glück, Ineta Polanska, Johann Ernst Glück (1654–1705): Pastor, Philologe, Volksaufklärer im Baltikum und in Russland (2005); Helmut Glück, Konrad Schröder, Deutschlernen in den polnischen Ländern vom 15. Jahrhundert bis 1918 (2007); Sylvia Jaworska, The German Language in British Higher Education (2009); Helmut Glück, Yvonne Pörzgen, Deutschlernen in Russland und in den baltischen Ländern vom 17. Jahrhundert bis 1941. Eine teilkommentierte Bibliographie (2009); Renata Budziak, Deutsch als Fremdsprache in Polen Sprachlehrbücher aus dem 16. bis 18. Jahrhundert (2011); Helmut Glück, Die Fremdsprache Deutsch im Zeitalter von Aufklärung, Klassik und Romantik (2013), etc. . The history of language learning is an integral part of the social and cultural history of language, following the trend initiated by Peter Burke E.g., Peter Burke, Languages and Communities in Early Modern Europe, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004. As for Russia, a good example is the project dedicated to the history of the French language in Russia (University of Bristol). Among the project’s publications about Russia, see a cluster of articles The Functions and Value of Foreign Languages in Eighteenth-Century Russia, ed. by Gesine Argent, Derek Offord and Vladislav Rjeoutski, Russian Review, vol. 74, 1, January 2015. The project has also published a cluster of articles about learning languages in Russia in the eighteenth century with an emphasis on French. See Vivliofika, n°1, 2013: . On the other hand, the history of language learning has an important place in the history of education and training, because the choice of language to study not only shows the cultural orientation of a particular social group, but also allows to better understand the process of forming its educational ideal The issue of the ideal of noble education, including its language component, was considered at the international conference organized by the German Historical Institute in Moscow in September 2014. See the conference blog: . We hope that the development of such a database and its subsequent use by historians will give impetus to the development of this line of historical research in Russia.

Database Contents

This is a biographical database of teachers of foreign and ancient languages in Russia in the eighteenth century. Biographical articles will contain information about their career before coming to Russia and in Russia as well as about their pupils, their teaching methods and learning materials, and about the books for learning foreign languages published by them, including in Russia. This database will provide an opportunity not only to perform full-text search, but also to search information according to various criteria (see below).

In the second phase of the project, text documents and images that illustrate the history of the teaching of foreign languages in Russia in the eighteenth century are expected to be published on this website. These may include curriculums, exercises, texts that were used at the same time to learn a language and any other subject (geography, history), correspondence between teachers concerning language learning, etc. All together, these documents will constitute a textual and visual library on the history of the study of foreign languages in Russia. In numerous cases, they will be linked to a particular biographical article, although documents produced by anonymous authors will also be published.

Search Options

Modern facilities allow to supply a database of this type with a search engine that will give anyone an opportunity to find information on a variety of criteria. These criteria include:

In addition, the database will provide a full-text search option. See user guide.

Project Participants

The project involves historians from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Germany. Their names will be presented on the site later.

Project’s International Advisory Board

An international advisory board is established for the project. This board includes experts in the history of the study of languages, the history of education and the history of didactics.

Database Languages

The database will be published in Russian and English. Text documents will be only published in their original language. At the same time, in some cases, a summary of these documents may be provided.