The Application of a US-USSR Trade Simulation to the Teaching of Business Russian


  • James S. Elliott


" The problem of how to teach Business Russian to Americans first interested me in simulations. I could discern two broad groups who would be the targets of instruction-- businessmen who knew some Russian, but who wanted to improve their knowledge of the business language; and students from any field who wanted to learn Business Russian as a possible qualification for employment after graduation. A sub-group of the second category would be teachers of Russian who wanted to learn Business Russian to expand the curriculum of their own institution. All these people had one factor in common. In addition to the language, they needed basic information about doing business with the Soviet Union. This was true because trade between a centrally planned economy and a market economy has many complications with which most international commerce does not have to deal. Not only are the economic systems quite different and the foreign trade practices of the U.S.S.R. something new for most people, there are the additional problems inherent to all foreign trade of understanding another culture and its customs. This factor is of course exacerbated in the case of the Soviet Union by our ideological differences and our competition on the political front. Because of these differences, both the Soviet and American participants in foreign trade invariably bring to the negotiating table many preconceptions and prejudices which impede trade. Not only do the primary actors have to deal with these problems within themselves, they also have to justify their positions either to a board of directors or to the administration of a Foreign Trade Organization (FTO)which may be made up of people suffering from a double dose of prejudice and misinformation. I concluded that an effective course for teaching the Russian language of trade could not be divorced from teaching the substance of Soviet-American trade. "