Tag Archives: teaching adults

A New Project: Beginning Russian Lessons

Have you tried to find Russian CI/ADI resources for rank beginners? I have! Most resources are aimed too high or they move too quickly for the opening moments. I am personally guilty of starting first classes in a series at a confusing pace.

But now I am working to fill that void. Here is a Screencast-O-Matic folder with videos of a first lesson for beginners. The lesson introduces the system and the characters we will be meeting and ends with a “quiz.” Each video is under ten minutes.

I am not a native Russian speaker. Once students can comprehend the basic structures of Russian, they should listen as much as possible to native speakers who are communicating in a comprehensible way.


Teaching adults is different after all

I just finished the second of an eight-week (once weekly) hour with parents of our local Russian immersion program. Last week I had only one student, so used the Star of the Day slideshow to support our conversation. This week, when the rest showed up, I put some of the “Super Seven” verbs (thanks, Terry Thatcher Waltz) on the white board, along with a few other important words as they came up, and we spent the entire hour just reading about that first student and comparing her with others.

In the past, I’ve run my adult classes the same way as I did my high school classes, with lots of brain breaks and varieties of activities. But this time, after reviewing some gestures that I’d be using, we spent the entire hour on the reading. They were responding well to questions about the text and themselves and to “what did I just ask” questions, working on reading the Cyrillic, and showing interest in one another.

In the deep of winter and spring, there probably won’t be the same level of energy, so I plan to drill deeply into the lives and interests of these students and of their children now, and then we can study songs and read other pieces later on for variety.

My ah-hah understanding: I was ever so pleased to see that students could use a (heavily supported) reading in Cyrillic on their first night. I won’t try to tiptoe around the Cyrillic from now on.

Adults are so easy!

Hmm…I guess that title could come across really wrong. I’ll only know if there’s a sudden spike in readers.

I love teaching adults after a day of teaching high school kids. (I love teaching high school kids any day of the week. Don’t get me wrong.)

You barely have to open your mouth and they laugh. They sit quietly and try to do every little thing you ask. They are responsive. They are open to telling stories or to just talking with you. I am amazed and loving them all over again.

Tonight I started the beginners with “She/he has many problems,” “Do you have many problems?” and “I have many problems.” I gave them all nametags and asked them to put down a light-hearted problem or a lie on their nametags. We started with one boy whose problem was the fact that he is too tall for his mother. (We had three or four teenagers in the adult class.) Then another one walked in sporting a cast, so that was an obvious problem. It took 45 minutes to go through those problems! Part-way through, I stopped to do some TPR, and managed to work in a few more structures that I know we’ll need. Then I pulled up a young woman and had her be “Anna,” asking questions about her (is she Russian/American, young/old, does she have long/short hair, is she tall, does she have problems). We compared her with the boys and their problems, and in the last two minutes, I read the group the first paragraph of Poor Anna (a lot trickier in Russian than in some other languages), and it sure looked as though they understood it!! So crazy! I am just delighted by the results.

In case it’s not clear, I ended up choosing to do Ben’s Circling with Balls, using Blaine’s new technique of interviewing and reporting back to the class. The only thing I didn’t do was put the report into past tense. That still feels really unnatural to me, unless you’re doing a story. I think I could have done it with Anna, but I forgot. And I already had a bunch of stuff on the board and didn’t want to erase it. I had the bad feeling that I would forget it if I did.

Time for sleep. I will post this in the morning!