Teaching texts today: twentieth century Russian literature in the language classroom
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This dissertation examines the methodology behind using literature to teach Russian as a foreign language to intermediate level students. Due to the unpredictable trends in Russian student enrollment throughout the twentieth century, the development of a method to match student needs and encourage retention will benefit the field of Russian studies. To this end, this dissertation explores some of the past research regarding the role of the reading skill in foreign language classes. In addition, an examination of previous use of literature as a teaching tool in foreign language classrooms prompted development of possible materials for the Russian language. Based on the investigation of this research, current Russian language textbooks were analyzed in light of their inclusion of literary texts and overall methodological tenor. Following the textbook evaluations, a suggested methodology is elaborated for a textbook that integrates literary texts from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with exercises for Russian language development. Samples of proposed teaching materials and a proposed table of contents for a textbook of applied literature are presented. The proposed materials focus on twelve literary texts of five hundred words or less, chosen from among twentieth and twenty-first century works of Russian prose. The twelve texts span the length of the twentieth century with one text representing each decade and two for the first decade of the twenty-first century. Different Russian authors, some of whom intermediate students may recognize but most of whom will be unfamiliar, represent each decade. Several sample materials were then tested for their feasibility in a second-year, second-semester Russian language course. Student volunteers were solicited to comment on and work with the test materials, determining a baseline for the practicality and necessity of the materials. Suggestions for future research recognize the importance of expanding the study beyond a limited scope. Finally, the place of applied literature is examined in light of current global tendencies and academic developments.