Issue 63 April 2013


p. 1 by Editors

Traditions and Transitions: Russian Language Teaching in the United States p. 3

Traditions and Transitions: Russian Language Teaching in the United States. In Celebration of the Career of Dr. Victorina Lefebvre

p. 3 by Jason Merril, Lora Mjolsness

Keeping it Real: Intensive Instruction and the Future of Russian Language and Culture in U.S. Universities

p. 7 by Thomas Garza

Within the U.S. educational system, the confluence of fiscal constraints and the increasing outside demand for more proficient speakers of foreign languages has precipitated the creation of new, effective, and efficient courses of instruction that utilize both the benefits of intensive face-to-face classroom interaction and the student-centered autonomy of online contact with the language out of class. Based loosely on the Soviet intensive methods of the 1980s, the new model for hybrid Intensive courses for language and culture incorporates the successful components of an accelerated curriculum, use of Internet resources, and Flagship-inspired articulated summer study abroad programs to attempt to bring the student to a level of functional proficiency in one calendar year. The hybrid nature of these courses is also reflected in the methods of assessing student progress and proficiency, using a combination of traditional testing, oral proficiency interviews, individual presentations, and portfolio assessment. The preliminary results of such programs at the University of Texas at Austin show high levels of retention in subsequent courses, increased numbers of majors in the less-commonly taught languages, and more students enrolled in advanced-level courses.

Hits and Misses in Teaching Russian in the U.S.: The Perspectives of Instructors, Students, and Enrollment

p. 25 by Ludmila Isurin

The Russian program at the Ohio State University is one of the biggest in the U.S. The present paper discusses the results of a study conducted in the 2011-2012 academic year. The study was based on a number of surveys and analysis of the enrollment data over the last five years (2006-2011). Altogether, 41 second-year students, most of whom were learning Russian as a GEC (General Education Course) requirement, fifteen third-year Russian majors and minors, and 12 Russian language instructors participated in the study. In addition, the enrollment and attrition data were analyzed in order to identify possible trends. The paper discusses the most problematic areas in language proficiency, motivational factors in learning Russian, the role of the instructor, perception of the Communicative Method, and the textbook used in the program. The above data are analyzed both from the students’ and instructors’ perspectives and, in turn, are juxtaposed with enrollment and attrition data.

Our Russian Classrooms and Students: Who is Choosing Russian, Why, and What Cultural Content Should We Offer Them?

p. 51 by Jason Merrill

Calls from ACTFL and other professional organizations to incorporate various types of cultural content into language classes naturally raise questions about what types of content would be most beneficial (and desirable) for our students. This article presents the results of a poll of former and current students of Russian about cultural content in Russian classrooms. 167 students were asked about their career ambitions, work experience, and about their use of Russian outside the classroom.

Students’ answers suggest types of content that could be beneficial as students prepare to enter the workforce and/or use Russian in their free time. -

Pedagody and Practice p. 79

Connecting Classrooms: Russian Language Teaching Project at UCF

p. 79 by Alla Kourova

The main premise of this paper is to demonstrate through the presentation of one project how the teaching of English as a foreign language in Russia and teaching of Russian as a foreign Language in America can help students learn not only about other countries and their cultures, but also open their eyes to their own local culture and promote their sense of identity and pride in its rich cultural heritage. Young people develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of cultures and societies in other countries, and also gain a better understanding of different cultural backgrounds within their own communities.

Thinking through Teacher Talk: Increasing Target Language Use in the Beginning Russian Classroom

p. 91 by William J. Comer

In July 2012 the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) adopted a position statement calling for instructors and learners to use the target language (TL) for 90% plus of instructional time. ACTFL’s recommendation applies to all levels of instruction (K-16) and makes no distinctions for the degree of difference of the TL from the learners’ first language (L1). Implementing this recommendation means that no more than 5 minutes of a 50-minute class hour should take place in the L1 of the learners, whether that class is the first day of high school Russian or a college class at an advanced level. For beginning Russian classes at the college level, this recommendation raises the question of how to conduct 45 minutes of instruction in the TL in a way that is comprehensible to the learners. Implementing this recommendation may be particularly challenging for new teachers and beginning teaching assistants, especially if their language skills may not yet be solidly at an advanced level.

This article considers TL use only in the predominantly monolingual foreign language (FL) classroom where the learners and teachers all share a common language. This instructional context invites the kind of code switching that is a natural part of communication among bilingual speakers (Levine 2011; Cook 2001), and so it makes the ACTFL’s target of 90% TL use challenging. The purpose of this article is to synthesize the findings from studies of classroom language use, identify impediments to TL use in the classroom, and offer specific suggestions and resources to help beginning teachers and teaching assistants of Russian navigate the difficulty areas.

Individualized Project-Based Reading and Its Effects on Students' Reading Habits and Beliefs

p. 113 by Filip Zachoval

In recent years, a number of empirical and conceptual studies about Project-Based Learning (PBL) have presented consistent arguments rationalizing this approach to language learning and teaching. However, there are no known studies available on PBL in Russian language classroom. This article presents the results of a qualitative research study that investigates incorporating an individualized reading project into a third-semester Russian classroom. Within the movement of student-centered pedagogies, the overall purpose of this study was: (a) to implement a reading project into a third-semester university Russian language class and (b) to provide an analysis of some of the educational gains made by students in the class. More specifically, the article reports the effects of this experimental treatment on students’ reading habits and beliefs regarding foreign language (FL) learning and provides insight into students’ perception of the project implementation. The results demonstrate that the project implementation had a positive effect on reading habits and beliefs regarding FL learning, and that the project implementation was received positively by the participants.

A Cognitive Grammar Approach to Teaching the Russian Case System

p. 135 by Carlee Arnett, Diana Lysinger

Toward a Theory of Interdisciplinarity: An Example of Conceptual Integration/Blending in Teaching and Learning in Russian and East European Language-Based Area Studies

p. 169 by Anna Pleshakova, Kathleen M. Quinlan

The world’s most pressing problems require solutions that cross disciplinary boundaries. Yet, in an academy dominated by disciplinary thinking, interdisciplinarity is very challenging for researchers, teachers and students. We briefly discuss problem-based learning (PBL) as a promising teaching methodology for integrating multiple disciplines. However, the literature on problem-based learning does not adequately articulate the underlying cognitive processes required for interdisciplinary knowledge construction, particularly outside the clinical sciences. This paper proposes conceptual integration or blending (Fauconnier & Turner, 2002; Fauconnier & Turner, 2008; Howell, 2010; Morrison, 2003) as a promising theoretical foundation for interdisciplinary teaching and learning, particularly in area studies, which integrates numerous social sciences and humanities subjects. We illustrate this theoretical approach with examples drawn from a course on the culture of Russia and Eastern Europe. We argue that understanding interdisciplinarity from a cognitive perspective allows both students and teachers to be more self-conscious about the practice of interdisciplinary studies, thereby enhancing the learning and teaching process.

Using a Corpus-Based Approach to Russian as a Foreign Language Materials Development

p. 195 by Edie Furniss

Growing research in corpus linguistics and the continuous development of numerous and increasingly user-friendly corpora are contributing to the implementation of usage-based approaches to language pedagogy and linguistic description. These developments have been exploited in particular by English as a second language (ESL)/English as a foreign language (EFL) materials developers and educators, but have yet to have a significant impact on foreign language pedagogy, particularly where less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) are concerned. The current study examines the potential for corpus analysis in the creation of pedagogical materials for Russian by exploring what has been done so far in the ESL/EFL field, and providing suggestions for future materials creation. A corpus-based approach, it is argued, can better inform and prepare language learners by providing them with contextualized linguistic resources that reflect actual language in use.

Linguistics p. 123

Язык текущего момента

p. 213 by Виталий Костомаров

Местоименные игры: конструкции "не ты ли" и "не я ли" в русском языке

p. 225 by Елена Маркасова, Павел Клюшин

The article deals with the usage of the construction in Russian written texts. It used to serve for expressing of polar addresser’s emotions (admiration for an addressee or indignation about addressee’s conduct) in the 18th and first half of the 19th Century. The construction with I has a positive connotation usually. The construction with You is more often used with a negative connotation. But if we have a closer look at the more detailed classification of the construction + noun or adjective and the construction + verb, statistics will show us other results. In the 20th century the availability of positive connotation reduced in usage of the construction in oral speech. However, it still exists in Russian poetry.

Policy p. 247

Key Indicators of Language Impact on Identity Formation in Belarus

p. 247 by Tony Brown

This research investigates native language and mother tongue data from university-age students in Belarus subsequent to Belarusian and Russian becoming co-official languages in May 1995 and discusses the role of language in the formation of individual and collective identity.

Data for the present study was collected by means of a survey instrument designed and administered for this purpose. Five hundred fifty-nine students from institutions of higher education in Minsk, Grodno, and Vitebsk participated. City of residence, concern about the future of Belarusian, gender, languages comprising one’s personal library, language spoken with friends, language prestige, and language of prospective employment served as important variables in understanding language use and identity formation in contemporary Belarus.

Mother tongue and native language data analyzed in this study differ significantly, suggesting a separation of roles—a symbolic role performed by one’s native language (родной язык) whereas a functional, operational role performed by one’s base language, or mother tongue.

Review Article p. 289

"Languages of Peoples of Kazakhstan and Their Interaction" by Bakhytzhan Khassanov, and "Languages of Peoples of Kazakhstan" by Eleanora Suleimenova, Nursulu Shaimerdenova, Dana Akanova

p. 289 by Aidyn Aldaberdikyzy

A rich vein of articles and books has recently addressed some critical issues in the field of sociolinguistics in Kazakhstan both in terms of theoretical perspectives and of their implications in educational and policy contexts. A wide range of theoretical and practical questions of Kazakhstani sociolinguistics are addressed, such as defining de jure and de facto status of languages; content and stages of status and corpus language planning; ethnic and linguistic identification of individuals, ethnic groups and the population altogether; ethnic and linguistic consciousness and self-consciousness; possibility and prevention of language conflicts; defining the essence and typology of Kazakhstani language policy and planning; ways of implementing language policy and efficiency of activities of language planning; dynamics of functional development of a state language; language renaissance and problem of language vitality depending on its status and many other aspects of linguistic situation, language policy and language planning in Kazakhstan have been studies in the works of Kazakhstani and foreign sociolinguists.

The article is dedicated to describing Bakhytzhan Khassanov’s “Languages of Peoples of Kazakhstan and Their Interaction” published in 1976 in publishing house “Nauka”, Almaty city, the Republic of Kazakhstan, containing 210 pages, and the Sociolinguistic Directory “Languages of Peoples of Kazakhstan” written in cooperation with Eleonora Suleimenova (chief editor), Nursulu Shaimerdenova, Dina Akanova published in 2007 in publishing house “Arman-PV”, Astana city, the Republic of Kazakhstan containing 304 pages, as well as analyzing the ways the books achieved their purposes.

Reviews p. 301

Review Essay: Popularizing Russian Language

p. 301 by Michael S. Gorham

In an era rife with complaints over the degradation of language in the face of a host of commonly cited bugaboos (inferior schools, lazy pupils, declining morals, insidious new media technologies), one can only be heartened by the fact that language and language usage continue to be a source of popular discussion and debate by more sober-minded specialists. This essay discusses three such recent contributions by leading experts on Russian language: Irina Levontina¹s Russkii so slovarem (2010), Gasan Guseinov¹s Nulevye na konchike iazyka: Kratkii putevoditel' po russkomu diskursu (2012), and Maksim Krongauz¹s Samouchitel' Olbanskogo (2013). In doing so, it highlights aspects of Russian-language change that have proven controversial in recent decades, examines the more general attitudes about language and nation that are often embedded in such language debates, and considers the function and impact of such metalinguistic discussions on language culture and usage.

Вера Зверева "Сетевые разговоры: культурные коммуникации в Рунете"

p. 311 by Thomas Garza