UCLA Russian Flagship Workshop: Teaching Russian from the Intermediate/1 to Advanced/2 Levels of Proficiency

The workshop will focus on techniques and strategies to address the challenge of progressing from Intermediate/1 to Advanced/2 proficiency in Russian.

July 31-August 4, 2017. Location: 10383 Bunche Hall, UCLA

Daily Schedule (Monday-Thursday; for Friday's schedule see below)
 9-12: Morning Session 
12:00-1:30: Lunch (not provided)
1:30-4:30 Afternoon Session 

Schedule of Presentations 
Monday, July 31 Ray Clifford, Brigham Young University, will compare the principles of reading proficiency assessment with the principles of instructional practice and will highlight the contrasts. Dr. Clifford will be accompanied by Jennifer Bown and Troy Cox.
post-workshop reception (details TBA)

Tuesday, August 1 Charlene Polio, Michigan State University
This workshop will begin by discussing two, not mutually exclusive, purposes for writing in language classes: writing to learn language and learning to write specific genres. In the first part of the interactive workshop, we will consider activities that help students focus on language and promote grammar and vocabulary development. Many of these activities, while not representative of real-life writing, can facilitate speaking, listening, and reading skills. The second half of the workshop will focus on genres that can be incorporated from intermediate to advanced levels and show how instructors can integrate language and writing goals along with specific content. The workshop will be hands-on with some examples in English and some in Russian. Current research will be discussed throughout the workshop.

Wednesday, August 2Cindy Martin, University of Maryland, College Park: Strategies and Anti-Strategies for Achieving ILR Level 2 
First we will explore the criteria for ILR 2/ACTFL Advanced in Speaking and Listening, with a special focus on the similarities and differences between these two scales, since the scales do not overlap entirely. Participants will be asked to share what they already do that works, what they believe is not working so well, and their evidence for either. The presentation will include strategies for working efficiently, how to integrate classroom and independent learning activities, how to help learners become independent learners, including how to tolerate discomfort and use it to their advantage. We will also discuss our approach to formative evaluation and grading. Participants will be given some time during the afternoon to consider changes they may wish to make in their current approaches.

Thursday, August 3 Presentations by the Russian Flagship Faculty; General Discussion

Morning Session
9-9:45 Anna Tumarkin, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Redesigning a Course Sequence into a Blended Format
Anna Tumarkin will discuss the redesign of the course sequence Slavic 315-316: Russian Language and Culture I and II, which focuses on developing oral communication skills for students at the Intermediate Mid to Intermediate High levels of proficiency and are concurrently enrolled in Third or Fourth year Russian. This sequence is now offered in a blended format; Dr. Tumarkin has developed online modules to enable more effective use of classroom time by allowing students to complete preparatory work on vocabulary, reading, listening, and culture activities outside of class.

10-10:45 Karen Evans-Romaine, University of Wisconsin-Madison: Scaffolding from Listening to Speaking
Karen Evans-Romaine will provide an overview of the advanced curriculum in the UW-Madison Russian Flagship, then focus on structuring listening and speaking activities from the Intermediate-High to Advanced levels in the advanced-level media course for pre-capstone students.

11-11:45 Susan Kresin, UCLA: An Integrated Approach to Teaching Listening
Most students study foreign languages with a goal of learning to communicate face-to-face with native speakers. However, when students travel overseas or come in contact with local native speakers, they often have difficulty understanding: their listening skills tend to be at a lower level than their ability to speak. This influences their ability to use the language actively and to form meaningful relationships with speakers of the target language, and can affect their motivation to continue. Listening comprehension skills need to be taught and practiced explicitly in order for our students to function viably as language partners and meet their goals in foreign language study.

I will focus on specific ways to teach students to cope with the pace, unpredictability, and variability of natural speech, to recognize familiar words, roots, and constructions in the rapid flow of speech, and to apply strategies that enable them to use what they know to compensate for material yet to be acquired. I advocate for an approach that integrates practice in listening comprehension into all aspects of the curriculum, interweaving and spiraling it with practice in speaking, reading, writing, and the development of cultural literacy.

Afternoon Session
1:30-2:15 Anna Kudyma, UCLA: Online Activities to Strengthen Reading Skills
Reading instruction is a vital part of any foreign language curriculum. But when time is also needed for speaking practice and grammar instruction, language instructors may not have enough time to train students in reading fluency and comprehension during class. In my presentation, I will talk about a possible solution to this problem —specifically, about online interactive activities focusing on 1) specific reading skills with direct instruction in applying the skills strategically to a variety of texts; 2) training and practice in fluency development (skimming, scanning, previewing); and 3) reading rate improvement (some speed-reading techniques).

2:30-3:15 William Comer, Portland State University: Literary Texts at the 1/1+ Level: Scaffolding to Support Language Learning and Literary Discussion
In this presentation, I argue that teachers can use literary texts with intermediate-level learners of Russian to promote both language learning and literary discussion, as long as the teacher provides adequate scaffolding to support learners in both areas. While many have pointed to the need for scaffolding, this presentation will examine what specific kinds of classroom and homework activities can provide that scaffolding. Special focus will be placed on how to sequence activities so that they support learners on the (long) path from text comprehension to written and oral discussions about the text’s characters, plots and themes.

The majority of the sample activities are drawn from a fifth-semester Introduction to Russian Literature course where the students read three short stories: Выстрел, Метель and Фаталист.

Friday, August 4, 9:00-9:45 - Julia Baklanova, Tatyana Neronova, Andrew Siegel, Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Undergraduate European and Latin American School: Moving Beyond the Structure
Halfway through the year-long program, the Russian Basic Course transitions from a more concrete, fact-based curriculum focused on comprehension to a more open and flexible curriculum structure with a substantial cultural component and activities that lend themselves to promoting higher-order thinking skills, critical textual analysis and application of lexical, grammatical and cultural knowledge. The developers of materials for this stage of the course focused on creating activities that require students to consider the entire context on multiple levels: cultural, lexical, and analytical.

10:00 - 11:00 - Round Table: Integrating Content and Language Instruction, with Discussion by Participants.

11:00 - 12:00 General Discussion

Afternoon TBA