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A classroom activity for Russian 111

Example 3
Кто Вы? = Who are you?

This activity was presented in a class on the 10nd of October, 2006. The activity was conducted in the context of Unit 3, where one of the main topics was talking about nationalities.

In the beginning of the class each student had got two small handouts. One handout was already filled with some data and another one was empty.

Persons photo, given name = имя, surname = фамилия, nationality = национальность, age = возраст, country = страна, city = город, university = университет, and the place of residence = место жительства were specified on the first piece of paper. I told the students that this would be their ID = Пасспорт for next 30 minutes.

On the other paper, which they had got, the same categories were provided but their values were not written there beforehand.

As usually, I divided the students into pairs. They had 8 minutes (1 minute per category) to ask each other questions, which I wrote for them on the board. The questions were the following: Как Вас зовут? = What is your name? and last name?, Кто Вы по национальности? = What is your nationality?, Сколько Вам лет? = How old are you?, В какой стране Вы живете? = What country do you live in?, В каком городе Вы живете? = What city do you live in?, Где Вы учитесь? = Where do you study?, Где Вы живете? = Where do you live? (meaning в общежитии = in a dormitory, в доме = in a house or в квартире = in an apartment).

The students had to fill out the empty form with the information, which they were supposed to get from the answers of their partners.

After that each pair presented a short dialog (using their notes and questions on the board) to the class. While a pair of students was presenting their dialog all the others were listening attentively: in the end of each dialog I asked the students who did not present this time some questions about the persons who were engaged in the dialog (their names, age, nationality, etc).

The objectives of this activity were:

  1. to practice the prepositional case of nouns. In Russian in order to answer the question 'where' (where do you live, study, etc) one must, first, use the appropriate preposition and, second, put a noun (e.g. Индия = India, Пекин = Peking, университет = university, общежитие = dormitory, and so forth) into the prepositional case, whose form is different for feminine (such as Индия = India, Япония = Japan), masculine (such as Китай = China, Пекин = Peking) and plural (США = USA) nouns.
  2. among the proper nouns in Russian there are quite a lot of indeclinable ones (for example, Токио = Tokyo), which do not change their form in any case. In the process of this activity I have paid the students' attention on some of them.
  3. the names of countries and cities sound for the most part quite different in English and Russian (compare at least Япония [j'ponija] vs. Japan). This activity helped the students to familiarize themselves with some Russian names, which we use for other countries and cities. They were surprised to reveal that in different languages the name of the same country or city can vary drastically.
  4. this activity also reinforced some prior knowledge, which the students already had (e.g. to say or to ask about one's name, last name and age).

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