ELECTIVE COURSE AS A MEANS OF DEVELOPING CROSSCULTURAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT FOR STUDENTS OF ECONOMIC SPECIALTIES OF NON-LINGUISTIC UNIVERSITIES
The purpose of the article is to describe, analyze and generalize the experiment on the introduction an elective course on crosscultural communication in the international business environment and improvement of students' English language skills at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation. This course was taught in 2017-2018 to 2nd- year students of the Economics Faculty in the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation. The target audience consisted of 45 people with a level of English proficiency B1-B2. The course was conducted over 3 modules, from September 2017 to April 2018, and amounted to 36 hours of classroom and 36 hours of independent work. The aim of the course was to obtain knowledge on the subject area and develop practical skills in the field of cross-cultural business communication, using English as a tool for interaction in the business environment. The teaching of the course included a variety of forms and methods of work on the formation and development of the cross-cultural and foreign language communicative competence of students. It included: work with authentic materials, discussions in groups and in pairs, problem-solving (case studies), project work, modeling situations of crosscultural communication, preparation and reproduction of dialogical and monological statements (reports, messages, presentations at round tables and mini-conferences), watching videos, listening to audio recordings of both native speakers and representatives of other cultures and peoples. The subsequent discussion of what was seen and heard followed. Students' Independent work was both individual and group in nature and was focused on the development of skills for working with authentic material, autonomous learning, critical thinking development, as well as cooperative or teamwork on projects. At the end of the experiment, a survey was conducted to obtain feedback from the students, to reveal their perception of the course, their attitude to various aspects of the learning process and the problem of crosscultural business communication in general. It was unanimously noted that this course allows students with different levels of language proficiency to learn how to obtain the necessary information, develop crosscultural communication skills and at the same time improve their English proficiency. As it turns out the most effective is the modeling of situations of crosscultural business communication imitating real life. Students also noted the role-playing games, round table discussions, mini-conferences and case-studies that create a safe environment where the students can develop communication skills, try different forms of behavior, respond to any kind of attitudes and behavior of the communicants and watch a reaction, allowing everyone to learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of the others.