Russian: Russian Cities, Russian Stories
Connect to Your Teaching
Reflect on Your Practice
As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.
- Do you teach dual-level courses? If so, what are some of the strategies you've developed to teach them? If not, how might you plan for such a class?
- What are some characteristics of "reading to write" activities?
- How might you incorporate cultural information into a communicative lesson?
- How do you foster a positive learning environment in a class that includes a mix of traditional learners, heritage speakers, and native speakers?
Watch Other Videos
Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you've just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.
A Cajun Folktale and Zydeco (French) and Happy New Year! (Japanese) illustrate rich cultural lessons and make connections to other disciplines.
Put It Into Practice
Try these ideas in your classroom.
- Introduce geography and history into language activities. Names of countries, cities, provinces, and more can be expanded into cultural minilessons. For example, in her combined class, Ms. Shuffelton included an activity that taught the beginners city names and locations, while the more advanced students conversed about historical references in city names. The focus on regions also brought out the various backgrounds of her native speakers. Ms. Shuffelton's students read and wrote stories using these locations. By having students work with "place," you expand their language into the larger world.
- Provide students with a writing sample to analyze for content and outline for form. This approach, common in language arts classes, can be especially helpful for students writing in a second language because it provides parameters that focus the writing. Then, when they begin to write, students can use the writing sample and outline as a model for their own text. Ms. Shuffelton's students read a folktale and identified its key people, places, and events. Then they outlined a list of key people, places, and events to include in their own folktales. Poetry that has a set format, such as the haiku or cinquaine, also allows students to be expressive without reaching far beyond their language competency.
- Select articles or readings that will inspire lively debate. For lower-/mid-level learners, reading an article in the target language will help them acquire the necessary vocabulary to express their viewpoints. However, strong heritage/native speakers or students with a high level of proficiency can read an article in English and discuss it in the target language. Ms. Shuffelton gave her Russian IV students (all native/heritage speakers) a New York Times article about Vladimir Putin mandating exercise for better health. Students discussed in Russian whether a leader can order a lifestyle change in today's Russia. You can adapt this activity by giving students two articles on the same issue (one in English and one in the target language) and having them compare the different cultural perspectives of the authors.