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Interactive Online Learning for the Russian Language

ILIAC Workshop: Library Studies, Information Systems and Education in the U.S.

March 15, 2002

Presented by:

Marissa Polsky

Web Applications Developer

American Councils

The Russian Language Network (Russnet) is a national Russian-language field resource center. The goal of Russnet is to make a variety of learning services and products—information, language modules, courses, materials, in-service teacher education, databases, discussion forums, and gateway to other Russian-language resources—broadly accessible to individuals, learners and teachers, and educational institutions worldwide.

Russnet is a vast online Russian language learning and teaching network. Upon entering, teachers, students and lovers of Russian find themselves at a gateway of resources for all aspects of the Russian language.

The main feature of the Russnet site is the Russnet Language Modules (http://www.russnet.org/online.html). The goal of these modules are aim at connecting teachers with the premier publishers of Russian-language curricular materials and offering several unpublished supplements to existing textbooks along with interactive e-learning modules designed specifically for internet delivery. These user-friendly modules offer free distance delivery of Russian language learning materials for use in the classroom, or by an independent learner. Currently, there are over 4,500 registered users for the Russnet modules. The latest feature of the Language Modules is the Russnet Virtual Classroom, which allows a teacher to have their own classroom space and give their own assignments to use in conjunction with the modules. Only one month after its inception, the Russnet Virtual Classroom is being used in 29 classrooms across the country. If the modules are not being used in conjunction with a classroom, the student still can still keep track of his/her progress with Russnet's scoring mechanism. Russnet staff is also available by e-mail or by phone during ACIE: ACTR/ACCELS business hours to offer technical assistance.

The Russnet Language Modules offer variety in content, media and approach, allowing something for everyone. Currently, Russnet offers the following modules:

  • Business Russian. This project, funded by the Fund for the Improvement of Secondary Education (FIPSE) of the Department of Education, is a comprehensive collection of exercise units focusing on Russian for business communication. The units range from absolute novice (learning the alphabet) to advanced tasks such as deciphering contracts. The modules can be used in conjunction with the ACTR publication "Russkii Yazyk v Delovom Obshchenii" or independently.
  • High School to College Articulation Project. This is Russnet's latest project. It offers separate modules on a variety of themes using authentic texts, video, audio and photography. Currently posted modules include "Ivan the Terrible", "Stalin", "The First Day of School", "Summer Vacation", and "The Matryoshka Doll". Future modules include "Russian Holidays", "Peter the Great", "The Russian Revolution", "New Russians" and "Ruslan and Lyudmilla". These modules will help to build a curriculum for the newly developing Russian advanced placement exam.
  • A Cultural Map of Russia. This ongoing Russnet project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), gives learners an opportunity to learn Russian while learning about various regions of Russia. Currently posted is a cultural map of Northwest Russia. The site offers unprecedented and extensive video footage of the region and its people, as well as informative Russian texts and exercises. Future regions will include Western Siberia and St.Petersburg/Leningrad Oblast'.

Russnet is also portal into other sites related to Russian language learning, divided into the following categories:

  • Teach – Links to materials for teachers of Russian
  • Connect – Links to online networks and professional organizations
  • Work – Links to resources to help find employment for those who know the Russian language
  • Read – Links to publications and publishing
  • Learn – Links for students of the Russian language
  • Assess – Tools for assessing students of the Russian language

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