Russian 3305: Course Description

This is a TBA course. TBA means "time to be arranged" (to accommodate as many students as we can). We hold an organizational meeting for all TBA courses at the beginning of each semester. The time and place of the meeting are posted at our home page, a couple of weeks before semester starts.

The course is taught by Slava Paperno (the two required classes) and Viktoria Tsimberov (the optional reading class).

The course is taught somewhat differently each year, depending on the interests and needs of the students.

The essence of the course is learning to write in Russian. This involves learning the basic concepts of Russian grammar, in other words, learning how the language "works." The course is for those who can speak Russian fairly fluently and correctly, though perhaps with a limited vocabulary and stylistic range.

The course may be taken for three credit hours/units or for two credit hours/units.

Those who take it for two credit hours/units must attend the two weekly grammar and writing/reading classes. This part of the course also includes a certain amount of reading. When taken for two credit hours/units, this course does not satisfy the College of Arts and Sciences foreign language requirement; one has to take it for three credits/units in order to satisfy the requirement.

Those who take this course for three credit hours/units must attend an additional weekly reading/discussion class.

Materials for the Grammar Classes (required class)
1) online materials:

2) printed materials
  • (required) Leed, Paperno 5000 Russian Words, Slavica Publishers.
  • (recommended) Any good Russian-English and English-Russian dictionary, e.g. by Kenneth Katzner, published by John Wiley and Sons

For those who want to study Russian grammar in greater depth (e. g., as a follow-up to this course), we recommend the course Structure of Russian, taught regularly in the Department of Linguistics. If you want to attack the subject on your own, a good reference book is Comprehensive Russian Grammar by Terence Wade. A useful Web site is Note that the grammatical descriptions on that site are not coordinated with our presentation; some terminology may be different.

Materials for the Reading Class (optional class)
When using Advanced Russian online at (see above about getting a free subscription) you can quickly jump to any part of any story and have the text displayed on the computer screen alongside the video. You can click any Russian word on the screen and read its English gloss. Most stories also have clickable links to cultural comments.

For each reading class, read and watch the assigned part of the story. Try to remember the actor's intonation, tempo, and pronunciation. In class you will be asked to read part of the assignment, imitating the actor's speech. Your teacher may bring to class printed texts for you to read aloud. You may also bring your portable device for the same purpose.

Write four simple questions about the assigned text that you can ask your classmates in class.

Tests & Grading
The course grade is determined by your performance on the fill-in-the-blanks final exam (35%), the results of the two in-class dictations (35%), and your performance in the two or three classes that you've taken (30%), including written homework. The syllabus includes links to online homework self-tests that are very similar to the in-class dictations. The final exam has 100 blanks to fill, all testing your knowledge of grammatical endings and spelling principles; this exam does not test your knowledge of the terminology.


Attendance is very important for your learning and your grade. If you have to miss a class for a good reason, be sure to write to your teacher, preferably ahead of time.

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Dept. of Comparative literature • Russian Language Program • 240 Goldwin Smith Hall • Cornell University • Ithaca, NY 14853-4701, USA
tel. 607/255-4155 • fax 607/255-8177 • email