Frequently Asked Questions
Do students have to memorize all the vocabulary in the story?
In writing the episodes of Mezhdu nami the authors try to avoid introducing extraneous vocabulary. There are, however, occasions when we include words and phrases beyond the students' level in order to give the plot coherence. The authors strongly encourage teachers to let the activities in the student workbooks serve as a guide for the vocabulary and grammar that students should be able to produce actively by the end of each unit. The test prep guides (which can be disseminated to students ahead of time) give additional guidance to students about what they need to know as they near the end of a unit. Keep in mind that some high frequency words appear glossed before their "moment" of becoming required for the students' active vocabulary. The Словарь show the episode in which that "moment" occurs.
When do I need a computer in class?
The instructor will probably want a computer in class on most days, but not absolutely every day, and certainly not every minute of every class. On days when texts are being covered, or when you want to focus on particular pages from the website, you will need to be able to project the web-based content onto a screen and to play the sound files loudly enough for students to hear them. You may also want to show students small powerpoint presentations that we have created to stimulate classroom discussion and comment.
Much of what happens in class is, however, NOT online. Classroom work is most often structured in pairs or in small groups rather than as teacher-fronted lecture or question and answer. Our overall approach is closer to that of a "flipped" classroom in that students are expected to read and listen outside class, and then to do activities that check their comprehension (of text plot, of new vocabulary). When starting a new episode, students may complete self-graded online activities or complete a written "text matrix" that helps them identify new phrases and vocabulary. When reading about new language structures, they are expected to do online exercises that check their understanding of concepts. The learning done outside of class is then reinforced and clarified by classroom activities and subsequent homework assignments.
Will my students need to bring a laptop to class?
Although we have written an online language textbook, our image of the successful communicative language classroom is NOT one where students spend 50 minutes peering into their own individual computer screens. The activities in the Работа в аудитории were designed to be completed in a face-to-face format, and are thus provided on paper (where students can take notes, record information exchanged, etc.). There may be times when it is useful for students to have access to the website as to refer to specific vocabulary or phrases from a text on the website, but this is an exception and not the rule. The website was designed to be mobile-friendly, so on those occasions when students need to have access to the website during class, they can easily use their tablets or smart phones to do so.
Do I need to give lectures about grammar?
The combination of self-correcting activities on the website in the Вы всё поняли and Немного о языке section and the communicative pair / group activities completed during class should minimize the need for the teacher to "lecture" about the language, keeping the students focused on communicative tasks. Some classroom activities push students to notice new grammar and record how it works in table form (essentially creating their own grammar tables through observation). Classroom activities are designed to maximize the time in which students are actively developing the following skills::
- exchanging information in supported activities
- noticing new vocabulary and language structures
- demonstrating comprehension of newly encountered vocabulary and language structures
- gradually turning that "encountered" language into "one's own" language by shifting to more active use of new phrases and structures
Depending on your students, you may want to check that they have understood a particular grammar point that they have studied on their own before beginning an in-class activity. One good way to do this is to use the self-graded comprehension activities from the website and to ask the students to explain why certain answers are right or wrong.
Is the structure of Урок №1 different from the other units because of the alphabet and pronunciation work?
The short answer is NO. The first chapters of many Russian language textbooks work differently than other units because of the significant time focused on intorducing the alphabet and the sound system. First chapters often feature a large amount of cognate vocabulary for teaching reading, and that vocabulary is not necessarily recycled in subsequent units. If the book has a "soap opera" plot, that narrative does not play a large role in the first chapter.
The structure of Урок 1 adheres to the same general construction of later units, and introduces the characters who will drive the plot of the story. The pedagogical approach of Между нами is thus established from the very first page, and instruction on how each unit "works" is integrated into the unit itself. Work on learning the alphabet is embedded in language input in the form of a connected story, and the vital work student do in comprehending the episode is a key precursor to the work on vocabulary and language structures that follow.
How do I cite Между нами?
DeBenedette, Lynne, William J. Comer, Alla Smyslova, and Jonathan Perkins. Mezhdu nami. Accessed [insert date here]. http://mezhdunami.org/.
DeBenedette, Lynne, William J. Comer, and Alla Smyslova. Mezhdu Nami. Classroom Activities, Units 1-5. Rev. ed. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, 2017.
Comer, William J., Lynne DeBenedette, and Alla Smyslova. Mezhdu Nami. Homework Assignments, Units 1-5. Rev. ed. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, 2017.
DeBenedette, Lynne, William J. Comer, and Alla Smyslova. Mezhdu Nami. Classroom Activities, Units 6-9.Rev. ed. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, 2017.
Comer, William J., Lynne DeBenedette, and Alla Smyslova. Mezhdu Nami. Homework Assignments, Units 6-9. Rev. ed. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, 2017.