Online Russian Course Orientation
Welcome to online Russian!
I hope that your experience in this course will be exciting, challenging and rewarding. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to tell you what to expect and what will be expected of you in this course.
Meet the professor
My name is Dr. George Mitrevski and I'll be your instructor and facilitator for the online Russian course this semester. I received my Doctorate degree from Ohio State University, and I have been teaching Russian in the classroom and online at Auburn University for many years. Several years ago I also started teaching online Russian at the University of Illinois at Urbana.
Although we will probably not have an opportunity to meet in person, you can be assured that we will have endless opportunities this semester to communicate with each other electronically. The best way to reach me is by e-mail directly, or through the e-mail utility in Moodle. You can also look for me on Facebook and Skype. Below are my coordinates:
Course description, objectives and learning outcomes
This is an introductory Russian language course designed for students with no prior study or knowledge of Russian. Our main goal is to guide you towards communicative competence in Russian. You will learn Russian at your own pace using self-instructional materials and a variety of electronic resources. The material you will cover in this course is identical to that covered in the classroom course. Although you will not have as many opportunities to practice conversational skills, you will have plenty of opportunities to interact with me and fellow students. Just as in a class taught on campus, the course schedule specifies the content to be covered, dates for exams and assignments, as well as other activities that you must complete by a specified date.
The course focuses on all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
- Speaking. You will have daily assignments that focus on speaking and you will be expected to complete them before the end of each week. Practicing speaking is like practicing a musical instrument. You have to do it repeatedly until you get it right. You will have numerous exercises each week to help you in acquiring a good speaking skill. By the end of the course you should be able to hold a simple conversations consisting of questions and answers about daily routines, ask for information, respond to simple questions.
- Listening. You will develop a good listening skill by working with the audio resources that accompany the textbook. It is essential that you spend at least one hour each day working with the listening exercises. Large portion of your tests and assignments will consist of listening exercises. Listening activities will comprise the most important part of your daily homework activities! By the end of the course you should be able to understand simple utterances and conversations about daily activities and familiar situations.
- Reading. You will have regular reading assignments in your textbook. By the end of the course you should be able to read and understand short texts, such as advertisements, newspaper headlines and menus, and be able to answer questions about them.
- Writing. Speaking and writing are similar skills in that they both require of you to produce your own thoughts and opinions in Russian. You will have weekly writing assignments where you will be asked to translate sentences into Russian, describe people, places and situations, or write about yourself. All of your writing assignments will be online. I encourage you to practice writing on a computer as soon as and as often as possible. Refer to the Computer Set-up to set up your own computer to type in Russian. You will need to turn in all written assignments as electronic files. By the end of the course you should be able to write short notes about daily activities, relate personal information, write a simple letter, describe persons and situations.
- Grammar. Grammar is the set of rules that a language operates under. Is Russian grammar difficult? The grammar of every language, including English, is difficult. Children learn their native language at a very early age without the need to learn formal grammar rules. Adults unfortunately, lose that instinct for language learning and need to learn grammar rules if they want to use the language properly. Learning Russian grammar is not difficult if you have already had some exposure to English grammar.
- Russian grammar is nothing more than a set of rules. First, you need to understand how a rule works, next you need to memorize it through practice, and then you apply it in the four skills that I described above. You will have detailed grammar explanations in your textbook and on web pages that accompany this course. For each grammar point, I have developed a set of web-based exercises that you will be required to work with and complete online. It is essential that you complete each exercises until you are able to produce the correct form each time. Many of the assignments will be based on these exercises. Remember, you will not be able to speak or write in Russian correctly unless you have solid understanding of Russian grammar.
- How much you attain in each of these skills depends to a large extent on you. You will have frequent written and oral assignments and the grades you get on them should be good indication of any weaknesses you may have in any of the skills. It is not enough that you work very hard one day a weak, or that you study all night before a major test. It is essential that you complete all assignments as they are due and not wait until right before a test. If you fall far behind during the first 2-3 weeks, it will be almost impossible for you to catch up!
What is online Russian learning and its benefits?
The main benefit of taking Russian online is that it allows for increased flexibility. Online learning generally provides considerable freedom, allowing you to choose when and where you'll participate in learning activities.
The online Russian course is web-based and allows students to interact with the instructor and other students through e-mail and other various online resources. Course notes, assignments, projects and grades are delivered using Moodle, an online course management tool.
The course has a syllabus and schedule to follow with the content to be covered, dates for assignments and exams and other activities that you must complete by a particular date. While the online Russian course is flexible it is not work-at-your-own-pace. It is semester-based and will have assignments due each week. You will have contact with your instructor and classmates inside your course via electronic means.
Is online Russian course for you?
Some students are unsure as to whether online learning is right for them. In order to be successful you are expected to approach online learning with the same academic rigor and commitment as you would approach in-class courses. Studies show that successful online learning students are independent, self-motivated, and disciplined. You must be able to access and use a computer with reliable Internet access and be able to use basic computer software.
As an online student, you will have many advantages in that you will be able to complete course activities at a place and time convenient for YOU. You will have access to a greater number of resources than you might in a traditional classroom setting. Finally, you may find that you are able to have greater control over the learning process, and may be able to customize the course in a way that best suits your specific learning needs.
However, you must be prepared to take on greater responsibility than those engaged in traditional learning. You will need to discipline yourself to stay actively involved with the course, and may find that you spend an even greater amount of time reading and preparing for this course than you do a traditional course.
Learning Russian online means that you do not have to be at a specific location at a specific time or date. Online learning takes place, for the most part, where and when you choose. This could be early in the morning or late at night at home, during your lunch break at work, or when you are traveling. This course is rigorous and requires you and your classmates to complete work by set deadlines, but you get to choose the times and location that suit your schedule.
Course technology and technical assistance
Do you need to be a computer wiz to do well in this course? NO! This course requires minimal technical skills. Since one reason for taking Russian online is convenience, I strongly recommend access to a personal computer at home. It is not a good idea to depend on computers located in campus computer labs, libraries or other public locations. These computers will not have all the proper software and plug-ins you need to access online courses. The majority of the work in the course will be done asynchronously with you working alone on on own time.
The first thing you have to do before the start of the course is to make sure you have set up your computer to type in Russian. Detailed information on how to do this is provided online, and I'm always available to help you if you get stuck. You also need a good set of headphones with an attached microphone for listening and recording audio exercises.
How to be successful as online Russian learner
Here are some tips for you to succeed and do well in the course:
- To be successful, you should be a self-starter and able to work independently.
- Students who have taken online Russian courses before say that the biggest piece of advice is to log in to the course just about every day. Often, this means that you are just spending time checking announcements, emails and making sure you have submitted anything that is due.
- Be prepared to work as hard in this course as you would in a classroom course.
- Read the syllabus. The syllabus provides the guidelines and expectations for your participation.
- Check your course site at least once every day. Sometimes I will send updates via email announcements that you will only see by logging in to the course management system and accessing your course.
- Manage your time. Develop self discipline. Schedule regular times for your online activities. Plan to spend at least one hour each day and a few hours each weekend on your coursework.
- Be engaged. Take responsibility for your own learning. Complete all readings, assignments and other activities on time.
- Be proactive. Pay attention to due dates and don't expect me to remind you when deadlines are approaching.
Don't postpone or procrastinate assignments until the last minute.
- Get your books early, so you don't fall behind. Do not wait until the last minute to start the course activities because there is a great chance you will not be able to complete them on schedule.
- Remember to communicate with me as often as you need to. Communication is the key to success for any course, and being in an online course you do not have the advantages of meeting with me face to face. On the plus side, most of the time I am available when you need me, you don't need to set up appointments with me in an office.
- Be willing and able to commit to 7 to 15 hours each week completing course activities.
- Listen REPEATEDLY to the audio materials that accompany the textbook and the Workbook/Laboratory Manual
- Watch all assigned video segments as often as necessary so that the language and structure presented become familiar to you
Resources and materials
- Textbook & workbook:
1. Golosa: A Basic Course in Russian, Book One (5th Edition) [Hardcover] by Richard M. Robin , Karen Evans-Romaine, Galina Shatalina.
Publisher: Prentice Hall; 5 edition (July 22, 2011)
2. Student Activities Manual for Golosa: A Basic Course in Russian, Book One [Paperback] by Richard M. Robin, Karen Evans-Romaine, Galina Shatalina, Joanna M. Robin
Publisher: Prentice Hall; 5 edition (July 23, 2011)
- Moodle: Links to internet sites, audio and video materials, and additional readings will be posted on Moodle. Make sure to check it regularly for changes and updates
- Audio equipment: Speakers and a microphone for listening and oral practice activities
- Russian keyboard: Install and setup Russian keyboard on your computer so that you can write all of your assignments.
- Skype: Find me on skype to communicate with me and with others in the class.
Evaluation of student performance
There will be four one hour tests during the semester. Each test will cover one lesson from the textbook and will comprise reading, writing, listening and speaking activities. The grades for the course will be figured this way:
- Each week you will need to complete a number of assignments corresponding to the material in your Textbook and Student Activities Manual. There will be separate due dates each week for the assignments. You may submit any assignment before the deadline, but they have to be completed before the deadline.
- When submitting a written assignment, please include your name and the assignment number at the top of each page. You should turn in all written assignments as electronic files saved in MS Word format. The file name should include your Last name, First name and Assignment number in this format: LastFirstAssignment5.
- If you know in advance that you will be unable to complete an assignment by the due date, you may submit it ahead of the posted due date. Assignments turned in after the posted due date will be considered late and will result in partial credit.
- If you turn in an assignment at least 24 hours before the due date and you are not happy with the grade you receive, you may correct the errors using the feedback I provide you and re-submit your work to receive extra points.
- Numerous daily oral practice activities have been incorporated into the course. I would strongly encourage you to take advantage of the audio materials available to you online. Many of your assignments are based upon the audio materials. To work with audio materials and to turn in oral assignments you will need to have a good set of headphones with an attached microphone. The built in microphone in your computer will not be sufficient since it records all background noise.
- At the end of each Unit you will be required to take a Unit test, which will cover all of the material from that chapter. All the tests will be taken at the proctoring office. Information on how to set up an appointment is available online. To take these tests, you will have to either fill in the blanks using a Russian keyboard, or print a test out, and then scan/post the completed version once you are done. It is your responsibility to take these tests on the days they are available.
- The tests will be cumulative, covering material from all previous units, with written and oral components. A study guide will be provided for each test.
Plagiarism and academic dishonesty
Plagiarism is the act of presenting directly or indirectly someone else's work as your own. Plagiarism is a major type of academic dishonesty and will not be tolerated. The University's policy for academic misconduct in the Student Code of Conduct will be followed for this course. If you have any questions regarding this please contact me as soon as possible.
For your assignments you should feel free to consult your textbooks, dictionaries, grammar books, or notes that might help you. You may not seek outside assistance (e.g., friends, family, native speakers, etc.) for completing graded assignments. You are also not allowed to use computer-assisted translators or online translating and spell-checkingprograms.
At the end of the semester you will have an opportunity to evaluate this course. You should know that your input is really appreciated by me, by university administrators and by future students of this course. How this course is conducted in the future does depend largely on the experience of current students. If you have any constructive comments or suggestions as you progress in the course, please don't hesitate to let me know so that I can work on improving your experience.
Talk to me!
When contacting me by email make sure you include "Subject" headings: use something that is descriptive and refers to a particular assignment or topic.
If you have questions, suggestions or need help with a specific exercise or assignment, please don't hesitate to contact me. You will be learning many new things about Russian, which sometimes can be overwhelming. Don't let this scare you away! Learning a language takes a lot of practice and time, and I will be happy to help you and guide you through the process. I look forward to working with you, and really hope you will enjoy this course!