Russian 2204: Course Description

Intermediate Russian: 12 Chairs by Slava Paperno, Alexander Nakhimovsky, Alice Nakhimovsky, and Richard L. Leed, Slavica Publishers

Audio recordings:
Recordings of the Text portion of each Lesson are linked to the Syllabus so you can listen online.

Computer exercises
Intermediate Russian Exercises online at the COLLT site (click COLLT under On-line course materials).

The 12 Chairs multimedia is a Cornell-only resource available from Create an account and ask your teacher to subscribe your account to the film. Do this early in the semester, before you see assignments for the film in the syllabus.

«6 кадров» mini-videos, linked to the Syllabus; also available from a link under On-line course materials.

Russian Web sites
Web pages in Russian (linked to the Syllabus).

Any good Russian-English and English-Russian dictionary, e.g. by Kenneth Katzner, published by John Wiley and Sons. Also, The Russian Dictionary Tree on our Web site under On-line course materials.

One midterm and a final examination.

Grading and attendance:
About three quarters of your grade will be based on your performance in class. One quarter of your grade depends on the final exam. Missing more than four classes without a good reason will affect your grade. If you do have to miss a class, send an email to your teacher, preferably before the class that you have to miss.

Course structure:
This course mostly continues Russian 2203 as it is taught in the fall semester. The textbook has eighteen Lessons. Nine Lessons are covered in Russian 203 and nine in this course, Russian 2204. Each Lesson is covered in one week, or four classes:

  • Translation/Grammar/Reading class
  • Text class
  • Film class
  • Verb practice class
  • The course includes five review weeks: the most recent Lessons are reviewed, and additional reading an mini-video classes are taught. The materials for them are linked to the syllabus.

    See Rooms and times for meeting times and places. See Syllabus for specific assignments for each class. The rest of this Course Description tells you how to do your homework and what to expect in class.

    Assignment for the Text class:

    1. Read the Text once without consulting the dictionary at the end of the book, i.e. consult only the Text Comments and the little Text Glossary printed immediately after the Text. At this first reading, you will only scan the Text and try to understand its general contents. As you read, the stress marks on the key words in the Text indicate that these words are included in the little Text Glossary.
    2. Listen to the recording of the Text online. You will see links to these recordings in the Syllabus. Note and mark stress on all unfamiliar words in the Text. In class you are asked to read aloud parts of the Text.
    3. Read the Text again, carefully, using the dictionary at the back of the book. You will not be expected to use the entire Text vocabulary in your speech, but you should know what every word means.
    4. Prepare Text Exercises 1 and 2. You are not required to write anything for the Text class.
    5. Be ready to act out short scenes from the text. Text Exercise 3 may be helpful when preparing for this.

    Assignment for the Film class:

    12 Chairs Interactive is a multimedia Web site at Unless you received your subscription to it in Russian 2203, create an account and ask your teacher to subscribe your account to the film. Do this early in the semester, before you see assignments for the film in the syllabus. If you do not own a computer, use the ones in the Language Resource Center in Noyes Lodge. You will watch the movie on the computer screen. On the same screen, you will see a window with various notes on the episode (summaries, transcripts, and descriptions). Every word in the notes has an English gloss: just click the word. Some words and phrases are linked to still images or short video clips. If you need help in using the site, read its on-screen Help (click the question mark button) or ask your teachers for a demonstration.

    For the film work, the class is divided into two groups. Each student in the class should watch the entire assignment. In addition, each group is assigned a few scenes for more detailed study. See Syllabus for details.

    When the Syllabus says "watch and understand these episodes:..." you should watch the assignment a few times and try to understand as much dialog as you can. Consult the notes on the screen. If some of the dialog is difficult to understand, consult the on-screen transcript. Be prepared to answer questions about the entire assignment.

    Then watch again the individual episodes that are shown in the syllabus as your group's assignment for "detailed study." Re-read the notes. Memorize as much of the dialog and the notes as you can. Be prepared to report on the episodes in class. Each scene's Summary will help you to report on the events. Each scene's Descriptions will help you to report on the characters and objects. The stage remarks in the summaries and transcripts will help you to report on specific actions. Be prepared to answer other students' questions about the episode(s). You may also be asked to act out your scenes.

    For each film class, prepare 2-3 questions on the assigned episodes. In class, your questions will be answered by your classmates as part of the discussion.

    Assignment for the Verb class:

    The purpose of this class is to learn how to conjugate all verbs listed in Exercise 7 and use them correctly in your own speech and writing.

    This semester, the COLLT practice in conjugation (using Intermediate Exercises on the COLLT site) is required, and there are no in-class quizzes. The green "skip" button will allow you to go directly to the assigned Lesson. As you type, use any source for reference: the glossary at the end of the Intermediate Russian book, the table on pp. 286, 287, the online Russian Dictionary Tree (under On-line course materials), or any other publication. The online exercises, just like the same ones in the book, show the use of the verbs in their most common meanings. Work until you get all the endings right. To conclude this work, use the last page for the Lesson in COLLT to record six or so sentences of your own that include some of the verbs in the Lesson. Do not read from your written text: try to speak as naturally as possible, the way you would in class. You will be asked to repeat them in class as a starter for improvised conversations. (Your score is displayed after you click Finish. Ignore the message about leaving too many questions unanswered--that's because there are 18 Lessons in the book, and you're only doing one Lesson at a time.) Your work on verbs will be evaluated on the basis of your performance in class.

    A note about Grammar sections at the back of the book (also online under "Russian Verbs" in the On-line course materials section of the navigation bar):
    These are entirely optional. If you can master the verbs simply by memorizing the conjugation patterns for various groups of verbs, you do not need to consult any other materials. If, however, you would like to try and find some sense in the seemingly chaotic Russian conjugation system, read the indicated sections in the "Overview of Russian Conjugation" in the textbook. You will not be responsible for knowing the rules or the principles described there; they are there only to help you learn the verbs analytically rather than by brute force. Still, brute force is also OK.

    Assignment for the Translation class:

    1. Write the Translation exercise. As you do this, review the necessary parts of Text (and Dialogs, if assigned). Your teacher will ask you to hand in your translation at the end of the class.
    2. Make up six English sentences with the type of translation problems that are covered in this Lesson's Translation exercise. In class, you will ask your classmates to translate your sentences into Russian.

    Assignments for Review weeks:

    Internet class:
    1. Read the assigned Web page or newspaper story. Do not try to translate every word and phrase, but make sure you understand the message of every paragraph.
    2. Scan the links and announcements adjacent to the story to get a general idea of their content.

    Assignment for the Mini-Video class

    1. Watch the «6 кадров» mini-videos assigned for the day (see the links in the Syllabus or use the link under On-line course materials). Make sure you understand every word; write a transcript for each video--we are not providing transcripts or glossaries ahead of the class (except for a few expressions that may be hard to figure out). Look up the unfamiliar words in a dictionary. Bring your transcript to class. The day after the class, a complete transcript will be displayed on the Mini-Video site so you can fully verify your understanding of every word. Type an English translation of the complete transcript before your next Mini-Video class and submit it using the homework submission box below the transcript.
    2. Memorize the dialog in all assigned mini-videos. Make sure you can recite the dialog imitating the actors' intonation.
    3. Prepare for acting out scenes improvised on the basis of the assigned mini-videos: make up a few remarks, similar to the ones in the video, to start a conversation with a classmate. For example, in one of the videos a patient explains his "small problem" to a psychoanalyst. Be prepared to discuss your imaginary problems with your classmates (patients and therapists). If it helps, take notes on the scenarios you want to use in class. These notes are only for you own use--you will not be asked to submit them.
    Verb review class:
    1. Review all verbs and grammar exercises from both Lessons.
    2. Write a short story (5 - 8 sentences) using as many verbs from both Lessons as you can. In class you can recite your story or read it from your notes. Instead of writing a story, you may meet with a classmate and write a dialog together. In class you will perform it.
    Film review class:
    1. watch the entire episode(s) again
    2. working with a partner, make up one or two short skits along the lines of any scene(s) in the film
    3. memorize your dialog and be prepared to perform it in class
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    Dept. of Comparative literature • Russian Language Program • 240 Goldwin Smith Hall • Cornell University • Ithaca, NY 14853-4701, USA
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