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Whether it’s a first-year or a fourth-year classroom, my language classroom is a dynamic, creative, friendly space focused on maximizing opportunities for students to produce language. I seek to make the experience meaningful, relevant, and interesting, and to allow students to learn about topics of importance to them. I ground activities in real, culturally appropriate materials and situations as much as possible, and seek to make each instance of interaction genuinely meaningful. Although accuracy and proper scaffolding for tasks is important, I train students to focus on communication first and foremost.

In addition to the usual tools of the language classroom (role plays, walkabout and survey activities, guided sentence production exercises, info-gap activities, and pictures used as material for description), I use:

  • Research projects and presentations (beginning in 2nd year)

  • guided debates and roundtable discussions (beginning in 2nd year)

  • explicit instruction in reading comprehension strategies (beginning in 1st year)

  • creative writing (beginning in 1st year)

  • analytical writing (beginning in 2nd year)


I find that a strong extracurricular program is essential for increasing students’ enthusiasm, giving them cultural understanding, and giving them contexts (such as a weekly Russian table) in which to use their Russian.  At both Lewis & Clark and at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (where I created such a program), I served as faculty supervisor for the students’ Russian club.

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