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Resonance Textbook

Russian for Beginners

Resonance is a suit of learning and teaching materials comprised of a textbook, a workbook, teaching guidelines and an online supplement.

The first three components organically coexist and complement each other in a single book. The online supplement consists of soundtracks, subject-specific dictionaries and answers to the exercises.

Learners

This book will give you detailed explanation of the Russian grammar, specifics of usage of Russian words that often pose challenges for English speakers, as well as useful linguistic-cultural materials.

Stress marks are shown in each Russian word in the book. Exercises are given in the end of each lesson, it is best to do the exercises as you learn the lesson materials, following references printed in light grey color, e.g. Упражнение 124. The book includes English-Russian and Russian-English dictionaries.

The online supplement will help you learn Russian phonetics, acquire the words given in the lessons and check your answers to the exercise.

Teachers

This textbook presents a Russian language course that takes 60 - 90 hours depending on the depth of studies assigned to each topic and the number of exercises the learner does.

The first book consists of 18 lessons. The teacher may assign 3 to 6 hours to each lesson depending on the goals pursued and the students' skills. Some lessons, due to specifics of the topics covered, may take longer that others.

Each lesson includes explanations of the linguistic material with examples, a text illustrating the grammar and lexical content of the lesson, and exercises. Many lessons include linquistic-cultural comments.

General Comments

At the initial phase of learning Russian students experience difficulties in understanding the teacher's explanations in Russian. Textbooks that do not follow this concept only aggravate students' confusion.

Another rationale for inclusion of detailed explanations in English in this book is the need to assist teachers who use English as an intermediary language in the classroom. In such cases they often face difficulties when it comes to providing explanations of linguistic matters. While the teaching methods where the use of intermediary language is prohibited provide certain benefits, such practices often mislead students in the meaning of what they are learning, make them uncertain in whether their understanding is correct and impede obtaining clarifications. English content of the book helps teachers of Russian provide clear explanations and helps those students who missed a lesson to catch up.

Phonetics

The introductory course of Russian phonetics is given in Lessons 1 and 2. Phonetic lessons are separated with Lesson 2 that introduces simple grammatic and communication structures. Such allocation of the material helps students feel their advance in the language studies sooner than if they would keep learning solely phonetics.

The phonetic course discusses the Russian alphabet in printed and handwritten forms, letter reading rules, specifics of the Russian pronunciation that covers vowel reduction, assimilation of consonants (devoicing/voicing) and contradiction between hard and soft consonants. Basic spelling rules are also presented – those conventionally called ‘five letters rule’, ‘seven letters rule’, ‘eight letters rule’; knowing these rules it is easier to comprehend many grammatic topics.

The course is supplemented by soundtracks available on the Internet. This is an important component for those students who learn Russian on their own, as well as for homework assignments and self-testing. Each lesson that includes phonetic topics or exercises that may require soundtracks has a QR-code that points to the web page with the relevant soundtracks. The 🕪 symbol and the number that identifies the soundtrack are placed next to such topic or an exercise.

Lessons following the introductory phonetic course (i.e. those beginning with Lesson 4) do not include phonetic materials. For further development of phonetic skills it is best to leave it to the teacher to select phonetic material that meets the needs of a particular audience or student. That helps address specific difficulties better than following a pre-set plan for improvement of sounds or phonetic features. Moreover, the process of improvement of phonetic skills never ends since it is embedded into the reading and discussions of the examples, work on verbal exercises and reviews of the written ones.

It is worth dwelling on the denotation of stresses in the textbook. Since in Russian words the position of stress is unpredictable, stress must be shown in all words in sentences and texts intended for learners of the Russian language. This need is addressed in the Resonance textbook where stress is shown in all Russian words (except for words in the headings that are needed only for the teachers).

In the first ten lessons the stress is shown with the traditional symbol (e.g. ру́сский язы́к). However, texts where this symbol is used appears unnaturally. Sometimes students take a stressed и́ for the letter й, they often develop the impression that in Russian the stress sign is an obligatory superscript.

To avoid such confusion and train students to perceive Russian words, sentences and texts in their natural appearance without losing the necessary accentological information, from Lesson 11 on the stress is denoted by showing the stressed vowel in bold (e.g. русский язык) while the stress mark is used only in the first occurrence of the word in the book.

Where several words merge into a single phonetic word (e.g. a single syllable word with a preposition) the stress is shown even in one-syllable words and is not shown in words that do not have stressed symbols (e.g. обо мне́; кто э́то?).

Grammar

The content of the grammar-related topics in the textbook strictly meets the requirements to the basic (A2) level of Russian language skills as established in the State Standard for Russian as a Foreign Language.

The book employs the sequence of grammar topics presentation that has become а standard over the decades of development of the Russian as a Foreign Language teaching practice. To put the learned material to immediate use for the communicative needs, topics on verbal grammar are alternated with those on nominative grammar. Presentation of cases follows the conventional sequence “nominative – prepositional – acquisitive – generative – dative – instrumental”, which is based on the degree of their demand in communicative situations.

Yet, in this textbook the introduction of some syntactic topics occurs earlier than in the traditional methods. Mostly such topics are related to compound sentences. Since these structures exhibit some commonality in English and Russian, the learners with the knowledge of English are prepared to perceive this information after a few first lessons. Then their acquired ability to make correct compound sentences in Russian improves both communicative skills of the students and their motivation.

To avoid any ambiguity of the examples and improve their didactical value the textbook shows their translations into English. When needed literal translations are additionally shown (in square brackets). The teaching practice has shown that many adult students seek to understand how one or another syntactic structure is made rather than merely memorize them. Where the syntactic structures of semantically equivalent English and Russian phrases are different (compare, for example Его зовут Том and His name is Tom; У меня есть брат and I have a brother; У Джона болела голова and John had a headache and so on), the literal translation helps comprehend how the Russian phrase is built.

All grammar material in each grammar topic of the lesson is presented sequentially. Exercises for each topic are placed in the end of the lesson. However, learning all the grammar topics of the lesson first and then work on the exercises is not most efficient. It is better to enforce learning of each grammatic component by doing the relevant exercises. To help with that the textbook shows recommended exercises after each block of grammatic material. These links to the exercises are, in fact, the methodological comments for the teacher and altogether they make a basis for the teaching plan. In addition, to exclude potential mistakes for selection of the exercises, the micro-topic for which the exercise is needed is shown below the exercise’s number.

To maximize the textbook's informative value it does not include separate refreshment and summarization lessons. These can be included by the teacher every 5-6 lessons based on the material flow and the degree of its acquisition by the students. For such refreshment lessons the exercises skipped in the previous lessons can be used. Another way to build a refreshment lesson is to arrange them as games around the situations discussed in the previous lessons.

Vocabulary

The vocabulary in the textbook fully covers the lexical needs for basic level of knowledge of Russian as a Foreign Language skillset and is compliant with the requirements of the State Standard for RFL. In addition, the vocabulary includes words that even though did not make it to the TORFL requirements still is important for fluency in contemporary Russian. For efficient acquisition all these lexical entries are included in the texts and exercises.

New words are first introduced in their dictionary form and then are used in the texts and exercises.

Some of the words to be learned often pose challenges to the English-speaking audience. For instance, school does not necessarily means школа; student is not always студент; какой? can mean what? or what kind of? and so on. When such words are introduced, additional comments are given.

The textbook has an online supplement. Where words on a specific topic (Clothes and Footwear, Furniture and Home Interior, Food, etc.) are introduced, there is a QR code placed next to the new words panel. The code provides a link to the relevant supplemental online dictionary. That dictionary is originally Russian-English and can be switched into English-Russian dictionary as needed. It also includes flashcards to be used for efficient memorization. Students can browse these flashcards with translation when learning or without it for self-testing. Dictionaries also are equipped with a quiz tool that enables the student and the teacher to test the knowledge of the dictionary content.

English-Russian and Russian-English dictionaries that contain words learned in that part can be found in the end of the first part of the textbook. Similar dictionaries in the second part Resonance II contain words learned in both volumes. Each entry in these dictionaries has a number next to the translation indicating the lesson where that entry was introduced.

Idioms

Idioms are directly connected to the linguistic material of the lesson where they are introduced; they use either words or grammar rules learned in that lesson.

The idioms are shown on separate panels.

Texts

The lessons include texts that illustrate their grammatical and lexical material. All texts are connected and are parts of a story: an American man Michael Rice who is learning Russian and has a passion for Russian culture writes short stories, or rather, observations on his studies of the Russian language, his travel to Russia and about his friend Victor and his family. The textbook is supplemented with an online resource that will help you to work on phonetic and vocabulary topics. Learning the Russian alphabet, making the first steps in Russian reading, you will get audio support. The QR codes in the book will lead you to the online audio records related to the sections you are learning. Similarly, with the QR codes you will find the subject-oriented Russian-English dictionaries (Food, Home, Weather, etc.) that contain the words from the lesson. You can switch the Russian-English dictionaries to English-Russian ones, and also transform them into decks of flash-cards. You can play the flash-cards with translations while learning and without them when testing yourself; and with the audio pronunciation guide or without it. The supplemental website also includes answers to the exercises that can be reached through the QR codes.

Exercises

The exercises are placed at the end of every lesson. However, after every grammatical or vocabulary ‘micro-topic’ there is a light grey link to the exercise (e.g., Упражнение 124) that is related to the fragment just learned. It’s best to do all those exercises after each ‘micro-topic’.

As you work on the exercises you will not only practice grammatical rules and develop your communication skills: you will also learn interesting facts about Russia, its history, geography and culture.

You can find answers to the exercises in the online supplement to the textbook. There is a QR code in every lesson which is linked to the answers to the exercises. For exercises marked with the note “There is more than one correct option” answers are not provided.

Workbook

This book conists of the textbook and a workbook. The latter is not separate from the textbook but rather is a suit of numerous exercises integrated in the textbookе and placed at the end of each lesson. The first book Resonance I includes more than 300 exercises. This integration is convenient and cost-efficient.

Guidelines for Teachers

Resonance can serve as a metodology guidlene for the teachers. The guidelines are integrated in the textbook

The guidelines consist of the Preface for Teachers, grammar materials and references to the exercises.

Comprehensive grammar notes are given in English. Teachers can use these materials as lesson plans for , либо дословно воспроизводить их. Для упрощения ориентации в темах учебника преподавателям, неуверенным в своих познаниях в английском языке, все заголовки тем уроков и темы упражнений имеют перевод на русский язык.

References to exercises embedded in the material can serve as a basis for planning of each lesson.

Online Learning Aids

The textbook is supplemented with an online resource that will help you to work on phonetic and vocabulary topics. Learning the Russian alphabet, making the first steps in Russian reading, you will get audio support. The QR codes in the book will lead you to the online audio records related to the sections you are learning. Similarly, with the QR codes you will find the subject-oriented Russian-English dictionaries (Food, Home, Weather, etc.) that contain the words from the lesson. You can switch the Russian-English dictionaries to English-Russian ones, and also transform them into decks of flash-cards. You can play the flash-cards with translations while learning and without them when testing yourself; and with the audio pronunciation guide or without it. The supplemental website also includes answers to the exercises that can be reached through the QR codes.

Author

Elena Berg is a Ph.D. in Russian language. She has been teaching Russian both as a first and as a foreign language as well as the Latin language to university students for more than 20 years. Dr. Berg has also published the textbooks Russian Stylistics and Rhetoric for Lawyers and Latin Language for Lawyers and more than a hundred research papers on Russian stylistics, second language acquisition and cross-cultural communication.

Online Learning Aids

This textbook is supplemented with suject-oriented dictionaries, audio records that illustrate Russian phonetics, and answers to the exercises. The aids are accessible through QR-codes shown in the book.

You can view examples of these learning aids using the buttons below.