Newsletter 2005
Integrating Class with Real Life:
Russian in Class and Beyond
Integrating Class with Real Life: Russian in Class and Beyond

As one can surely imagine, a Russian conversation and composition course is a challenging one, particularly for a non-native speaker among natives. Students enrolled in the course take on a multi-faceted experience that relates reading, writing, and speaking, to very usable and realistic real life experiences. This past semester, our textbook included chapters based on pertinent, everyday issues, such as rock music, student life, and drugs and alcohol. We were challenged with intensive reading assignments, often filled with unknown words and idioms. However, with the help of Dr. Iskold and a Russian-to-English dictionary, we were able to understand the texts and become familiar with important vocabulary.

Matt Jakubik ’06 interviews Dr. Slava Rotkin

One section in particular has been instrumental in my application of Russian to the real world and to improving my level of fluency: rock music. I interviewed a native speaker, Dr. Slava Rotkin, an assistant professor of physics from Lehigh University, as part of my final project for the class. This interview allowed me to practice my speaking and listening skills, both instrumental in developing a working fluency in any language. Furthermore, the topic chosen for the interview, music in Russia, allowed me to apply my knowledge to a situation that was realistic and applicable to my normal and everyday life. I mean, after all, who doesn’t like music? What’s more, this experience furthered my cultural understanding of Russians and how they relate to music. It quickly becomes apparent that not only are such situations beneficial to learning a new language, but also essential to gaining a cultural perspective on other societies.
--Matt Jakubik ‘06