Looking for advice in teaching Russian privately
Thread poster: Natalia Elo

Natalia Elo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:57
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Dec 10, 2005

Dear all,

I have been offered Russian teaching on one-to-one basis. My student is Polish, but she speaks excellent English, she has a degree in English philology.

She is not a beginner in Russian either. I offered her this test and she scored 60% which is not bad at all.

Actually during our trial session I talked to her for app. one hour in Russian and she understood 90%. Her speaking skills are however not so good.

I used to teach Russian in Finland, but the school provided me with all the material needed. It was always a group of people while now I will deal with one, but very eager student.

So, what I'm asking for here is advice on what activities we could do together that I honestly earn my money?

I thought that we could start every session with a dictate exercise, then maybe reading, but then I feel somehow helpless. I don't have too much time to look for resources on the net as it seems that there are plenty of them.

Any advice is appreciated. Everyone, who ever taught languages, what was your favourite exercise?

Best regards
Natalia


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 19:57
German to English
Teaching Russian privately Dec 11, 2005

Hi Natalia,
Thanks for giving us plenty of background information about your student. There is one additional point, though, that I think is crucial: why does your student want to learn Russian? Does she have a specific reason for learning Russian? For instance, to be able to read Tolstoy in the original or move to Russia and live there, etc?
The more we know about her objectives, the better we can advise you on what kind of approach, activities and materials would be best.

Kim


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Natalia Elo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:57
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Don't know Dec 11, 2005

Dear Kim,

Kim Metzger wrote:

There is one additional point, though, that I think is crucial: why does your student want to learn Russian? Does she have a specific reason for learning Russian? For instance, to be able to read Tolstoy in the original or move to Russia and live there, etc?


This is actually a question I've been asking myself:) and was the first thing I asked her. She said that she just wants to learn it, and I didn't dare to insist on further explanation. No, she is not planning to move to Russia, she doesn't really need it in her work, she's working in English-language magazine, her husband is not Russian, so I guess this is the Tolstoy thing;)

She used to study Russian in tandem with a friend of hers and I guess she just doesn't want to lose it. I think it must be relatively easy for Polish people to learn Russian and I have to admit being surprised by the results of tandem learning.

I would also appreciate any recommendation on Russian textbook for English speakers.

Natalia




[Edited at 2005-12-11 01:17]


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Blithe
Local time: 20:57
Russian
+ ...
dialogue Dec 11, 2005

Natalia Elo wrote:

Any advice is appreciated. Everyone, who ever taught languages, what was your favourite exercise?



If your student lacks speaking skills, dialogue would definitely be the best exercise. You choose a topic and then do a dialogue with her. The important thing is not to correct her mistakes at once, but just take notes and correct them when your dialogue is over. It's good to make the student repeat the sentences where she made mistakes and also make up similar sentences with the words that were used wrongly.


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:57
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
Russian learning activities Dec 11, 2005

Hello Natalie,
I had wonderful teachers of Russian in college, both in the U.S. and in Moscow, and I wanted to share one activity that helped me more than anything else.

My teacher at MMU gave our group Chekhov's Lady with a Lapdog and had us read it at home and listen to a tape of professional actors and a narrator performing the story. If I remember correctly, the task was:

1. Just listen to the tape and pick up as much as you can.
2. Then read the story and pick up as much as you can.
3. Then read the story with your dictionary and write in the hardest words in pencil (to be used sparingly).
4. Then listen to the story and read along silently (to be done several times a night for a week or more!)
5. Then listen to the story and pause after each sentence so you can say it yourself. Try to imitate the actors' and narrator's intonation and pronunciation. (Repeat until you can't stand it any more, and then do it some more.)
6. Once we'd done step 5, she would have us repeat the last step every night and check our pronunciation in the morning.

By the time we'd done that, we 1)had better accents; 2)knew the story by heart!; 3)had learned hundreds of words that we would never, ever forget.

Some people didn't like this approach, but it really worked for me, and I used it on my own (taping the evening news and then pausing after each sentence to repeat it back).

Good luck!
Elizabeth

PS: I think this might be what they call the Kitaigorodskaya method, since she ran the program I was in. Look it up on Yandex, you might find more ideas.

[Edited at 2005-12-11 04:37]

PPS: More ideas: cooking food together while speaking only Russian, reading Russian magazines, memorizing Russian jokes (anekdoty), singing Russian karaoke (the dumber the songs, the better)

[Edited at 2005-12-11 04:40]


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 03:57
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Russian Poetry Dec 11, 2005

Another idea is to memorize and receite Russian poetry. It leads to good pronunciation and accent, as well as providing a tangible result of a series of lessons. It is a good short term goal.

Stephen Rifkind


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Natalia Elo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:57
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Dec 11, 2005

Dear Blithe,

Thank you for the tip. It's a good idea to write down mistakes and tell them later.


Elisabeth,



I guess no-one on the streets of Moscow can recognise now that you are not Russian native speaker. Great tip, I should think, where I could get tapes.

Stephen,

Yes, reading poetry aloud is a good way to learn stress in words.


Thank you all so far. If any one wants to share his/her experience,aou are very welcome to do that.


Natalia


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Kevin Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:57
Member (2005)
Russian to English
+ ...
With Blithe and Elizabeth Dec 11, 2005

Blithe and Elizabeth both had excellent suggestions.

When in Russia on interpreting assignments, I often turn on the TV and just try to repeat everything I hear, word for word. For me, this not only helps me hone my pronunciation and fluency, but it is good practice in listening and speaking at the same time (I am a simultaneous interpreter). For your student, I would suggest using recordings and doing a sentence or phrase at a time.

When I was teaching Russian for the US government, one of the most effective methods for improving spoken Russian was simply free conversation on virtually any topic, where the instructor withholds all comments and critiques until the end of the session.

My two cents worth...


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Blithe
Local time: 20:57
Russian
+ ...
Home reading (äîìàøíåå ÷òåíèå) Dec 11, 2005

That's how it was called at "In'yaz" where I studied, and it was my favorite class. You choose a book for your student to read at home and then you discusss it chapter by chapter. Usually you do it like a chapter a week, then it is not so hard for a student. The book should be really interesting though, otherwise there's not much to discuss.

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Larissa Dinsley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:57
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
memorize and record Dec 12, 2005

Stephen Rifkind wrote:

Another idea is to memorize and receite Russian poetry. It leads to good pronunciation and accent, as well as providing a tangible result of a series of lessons. It is a good short term goal.

Stephen Rifkind


And then record her and listen to it together. If you have anything to correct, she can easily see, why.


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