This is a tutorial in the Russian language for Russian heritage speakers.
These are supplementary electronic learning materials (audio, texts, interactive exercises) to accompany the textbook, Russian for Russians, that targets Russian heritage speakers.
Type of Material:
Could be used a supplement to a textbook or as additional electronic material for practicing Russian grammar, vocabulary, and learning some aspects of Russian culture. Some materials target novice learners, others could be used with intermediate or even advanced learners of Russian or heritage speakers.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
To provide instruction in Russian grammar, vocabulary, and culture and develop listening, reading and writing skills. to non native speakers of Russian.
Target Student Population:
Those with Russian heritage and those who want to learn Russian as a foreign language
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic computer navigation skills, access to viable audio capability, access to Cyrillic font (downloadable if necessary); Russian keyboard or at least stickers.
The site includes a good variety of drill-and-practice exercises to practice grammar and develop vocabulary and useful open-ended tasks to check comprehension of readings and develop writing skills. The choice of texts is meant to get learners acquainted with modern life in Russia. Many exercises target grammar and vocabulary aspects that could be particularly difficult for Russian heritage speakers experiencing the interfering influence of English. Most difficult but helpful activities for this audience are the writing assignments and there are plenty of them included on this site. Users can complete assignments and automatically check cloze exercises or print out open-ended activities.
As this site is designed as a supplement to a printed textbook, it is not recommend as a standalone. Though the lessons and activities are numbered, one will have difficulties seeing a logical structure of, and interconnection between units. Some activities are poorly labeled and it is impossible to find out what exercise one has to expect before clicking on the link. The tasks for some activities are not very clear, some words are misspelled and some sentences need to be rephrased due to stylistic concerns. Some texts could be accused of being stereotypical portrayal of Russian and U.S. cultures.
The site designer chose two-frame format, which is though being helpful for navigation, could decrease usability of the site. One may get lost on the lower level of exercises, as many activities are not labeled as belonging to a particular lesson. There is no way to get to the home page from each unit page but going to the URL. The site design is very plain and visually unattractive, though some may argue that this is meant to avoid attention distraction. The site does not inform what software is needed to listen to audio files.
It seems that the website is not being currently maintained or updated. Some texts are outdated and some exercises seem to be under construction for a long time.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This site could be used as a supplement to a textbook Russian for Russians (by same authors) or as an additional resource to drill-and-practice grammar, enrich vocabulary, develop listening, reading, and writing skills. Heritage speakers of Russian would benefit from practicing several aspects of grammar that they often have trouble with, from developing upper-level vocabulary and learning words they tend to substitute to English words, and from many writing exercises.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site provides a good variety of exercises that could help heritage learners as well as foreign language learners of Russian to improve their language proficiency. It could hardly be used as a self-study material but experienced teachers may find ways to incorporate interactive exercises and listening activities into language classroom. The biggest value of this site is that it targets heritage speakers of Russian whose linguistic needs are generally different from those who study Russian as a foreign language.
Other Issues and Comments:
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