COLLT FAQ for Russian grammar exercises

1) Do I have to click the Finish button when I am done with the current assignment?
Yes, you should do that because when you click Finish, you see your current score, and an automatic email is sent with the results of your session. If you don't click Finish, your score is still recorded, and no data is lost about your session, but there is no reason not to click Finish. Next time you log in, you will still be able to resume where you left off.

2) Can I go back to the questions I didn't get right? Can I fix them later?
Yes, you can do that any time, and any number of times. Some people deliberately clear all their answers and redo an exercise--for practice and just to prove to themselves that they still remember the answers and the principles. This does not hurt your score or the timeliness of your first submission.

3) How do I find the pages where I left an uncorrected error?
Open the drop-down list in the "skip" control at the bottom of any page; those pages that need your attention are marked with "?"

4) When I have filled a blank, how do I know if my answer is correct?
Click the "check" button and the see the diagnostics.

5) Can I click the "check" button after filling each blank?
Yes, it doesn't matter how many times you use the "check" button. You can use it after every blank or after filling a bunch of them. This does not affect your score or anything else. The button is there for you to check your answers.

6) Why does the diagnostic panel not tell me what exactly is wrong with my answer?
It is not the function of the "check" button to explain the grammar rule that is involved. All explanations are offered in the blue panel alongside the questions. The process should be: a) listen to the sound recording to get a general idea of what this is about; b) read the blue panel and understand the language facts that are involved; c) type an answer according to your understanding of the principle; d) click the "check" button to see if you got it right; e) if not, read the blue panel again and find the fact or principle that you may have missed. For example, you may have used a masculine ending on a feminine adjective; or you may have simply mistyped an ending; or you forgot about the difference between animate and inanimate nouns... that sort of thing is the normal learning process, the sequence that will help you learn.

7) If the info in the blue panel isn't sufficiently clear to me, where else can I go for the explanations? Sometimes the panel is about one set of rules but my mistakes may be on something that was covered earlier.
A) The textbook is a comprehensive source--typically, of course, the Lesson that the exercise is based on, but also the Grammar Reviews
B) The 5000 RW dictionary, where every form of every word is spelled out.
C) Beginning Russian Grammar on the Russian website, under Online course materials.
D) Ask your teacher in class or after class.

8) Is it OK just to find the answer in the dictionary and type it? If so, what's the point?
The best way to use COLLT for learning is as described under 6 above, by going through the process. That is how we learn anything in life: find out the principle; test your understanding of it; go back to the principles if you've missed something. But not everyone learns the same way. Finding the word in the dictionary and reading the answer from the page, retaining it in your brain for 20 seconds or so, typing it and looking at it, then looking at it again in the diagnostics panel--all these little and seemingly mindless steps do contribute to learning. Some people learn best by analyzing and testing themselves while other people learn best by repeating the same steps a few times. It's the end result that matters.

9) What's with the accent marks? Am I expected to type them?
No. As explained in the intro screen, you should not try to include accent marks in your answers. No standard Russian book or website uses them, and COLLT will not accept them. A correctly typed ending will be rejected if you include an accent mark.

10) Can I type English letters for identically-looking Russian ones, like a and o and e?
No, English letters will flag your answer is incorrect.

11) What's the purpose of these typing exercises anyway?
Russian being what it is, accurate grammatical structures are key to communication. Make a couple of grammatical errors, and your sentence is likely to baffle your audience. Besides, learning how this language works is an important intellectual component of studying Russian. And it works mostly through an elaborate system of grammar cogs and pulleys. The process of listening-reading-analyzing-typing-checking contributes to learning. Doing this sort of work in class would drive everyone crazy. It would be a waste of the time that can be better spend in discussion and answering questions. This work is precisely what everyone should be doing on his or her own, at his or her own pace. Some people will benefit from it more than others--it all depends on what type of learner you are. Involving your hearing, reading, thinking, memorization, and yes, typing (a motor skill) is the best we can do to help you learn. Plus, this is the type of work that can be done to perfection. No one will know how many times you mistyped an ending so long as you get it right in the end.