Additional Final Review Time is Scheduledthis Friday, December 6, from 7:30 am to 11:30 am LL103
Homework will be accepted up to and including the last day of class December 10th
Final is December 12th, our classroom, from 6:40pm till 8:40pm(you will have till 9pm to complete the final)
Final is closed books, closed notes, open mind

Two new courses (Spring 2003):

  1. Computational Linguistics of Slavic Languages [the syllabus]
  2. History of Slavic Languages (Russian, Polish, and Serbo-Croatian in Comparison) [the syllabus]





    General Information

ASU Listing: RUS 311, 3 credit hours,


Time: TuTh 6:40-7:55

Place: LL 262


Tatyana Dhaliwal, e-mail:  
Home page:

Danko Sipka, e-mail:
Home page:

Please feel free to e-mail us any time you have any questions before, in the course of or after the course

[Click here for a short printable version of the syllabus]

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please write them below and press the Send button:


  1. Prerequisites


Course participants must have attained 1+ proficiency level to enroll; the course is open to anyone at this proficiency level (whether or not Russian one and two hundred level courses are completed).

This level of proficiency corresponds to the high intermediate level as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). This assumes the following skills:


Sufficient comprehension to understand short conversations about all survival needs and limited social demands. Developing flexibility evident in understanding into a range of circumstances beyond immediate survival needs. Shows spontaneity in understanding by speed, although consistency of understanding uneven. Limited vocabulary range necessitates repetition for understanding. Understands more common time forms and most question forms, some word order patterns, but miscommunication still occurs with more complex patterns. Cannot sustain understanding of coherent structures in longer utterances or in unfamiliar situations. Understanding of descriptions and the giving of precise information is limited. Aware of basic cohesive features; e.g., pronouns, verb inflections, but many are unreliably understood, especially if less immediate in reference. Understanding is largely limited to a series of short, discrete utterances. Still has to ask for utterances to be repeated. Some ability to understand the facts.


Sufficient comprehension to understand simple discourse in printed form for informative social purposes. Can read material such as announcements of public events, simple prose containing biographical information or narration of events, and straightforward newspaper headlines. Can guess at unfamiliar vocabulary if highly contextualized, but with difficulty in unfamiliar contexts. Can get some main ideas and locate routine information of professional significance in more complex texts. Can follow essential points of written discussion at an elementary level on topics in his/her special professional field. In commonly taught languages, the individual may not control the structure well. For example, basic grammatical relations are often misinterpreted, and temporal reference may rely primarily on lexical items as time indicators. Has some difficulty with the cohesive factors in discourse, such as matching pronouns with referents. May have to read materials several times for understanding.


Can initiate and maintain predictable face-to-face conversations and satisfy limited social demands. He/she may, however, have little understanding of the social conventions of conversation. The interlocutor is generally required to strain and employ real-world knowledge to understand even some simple speech. The speaker at this level may hesitate and may have to change subjects due to lack of language resources. Range and control of the language are limited. Speech largely consists of a series of short, discrete utterances. Examples: The individual is able to satisfy most travel and accommodation needs and a limited range of social demands beyond exchange of skeletal biographic information. Speaking ability may extend beyond immediate survival needs. Accuracy in basic grammatical relations is evident, although not consistent. May exhibit the more common forms of verb tenses, for example, but may make frequent errors in formation and selection. While some structures are established, errors occur in more complex patterns. The individual typically cannot sustain coherent structures in longer utterances or unfamiliar situations. Ability to describe and give precise information is limited. Person, space, and time references are often used incorrectly. Pronunciation is understandable to natives used to dealing with foreigners. Can combine most significant sounds with reasonable comprehensibility, but has difficulty in producing certain sounds in certain positions or in certain combinations. Speech will usually be labored. Frequently has to repeat utterances to be understood by the general public.


Sufficient control of writing system to meet most survival needs and limited social demands. Can create sentences and short paragraphs related to most survival needs (food, lodging, transportation, immediate surroundings and situations) and limited social demands. Can express fairly accurate present and future time. Can produce some past verb forms but not always accurately or with correct usage. Can relate personal history, discuss topics such as daily life, preferences, and very familiar material. Shows good control of elementary vocabulary and some control of basic syntactic patterns, but major errors still occur when expressing more complex thoughts. Dictionary usage may still yield incorrect vocabulary or forms, although the individual can use a dictionary to advantage to express simple ideas. Generally cannot use basic cohesive elements of discourse to advantage (such as relative constructions, object pronouns, connectors, etc.). Can take notes in some detail on familiar topics, and respond to personal questions using elementary vocabulary and common structures. Can write simple letters, summaries of biographical data and work experience with fair accuracy. Writing, though faulty, is comprehensible to native speakers used to dealing with foreigners.

This level of proficiency, as defined for the purposes of this course, stipulates acquisition of all regular and frequent irregular grammatical patterns, the 1,500-unit lexical minimum (with at least 500 units used in speech production), and an array of common pragmatic patterns.


  1. Objectives

This course, together with Russian 312, is a part of the level two Russian program. Upon completion of both these courses students are expected to acquire level 2 (limited working proficiency) language skills as defined by the US Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR). This level of proficiency corresponds to the advanced level as defined by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). This assumes the following skills:


Sufficient comprehension to understand conversations on routine social demands and limited job requirements. Able to understand face-to-face  speech in a standard dialect, delivered at a normal rate with some repetition and rewording, by a native speaker not used to dealing with  foreigners, about everyday topics, common personal and family news,  well-known current events, and routine office matters through descriptions  and narration about current, past, and future events; can follow essential  points of discussion or speech at an elementary level on topics in his/her  special professional field. Only understands occasional words and phrases of statements made in unfavorable conditions; for example, through  loudspeakers outdoors. Understands factual content. Native language causes less interference in listening comprehension. Able to understand facts; i.e., the lines but not between or beyond the lines.


Sufficient comprehension to read simple, authentic written material in a form equivalent to usual printing or typescript on subjects within a familiar context. Able to read with some misunderstandings straightforward, familiar, factual material, but in general insufficiently experienced with the language to draw inferences directly from the linguistic aspects of the text. Can locate and understand the main ideas and details in material written for the general reader. However, persons who have professional knowledge of a subject may be able to summarize or perform sorting and locating tasks with written texts that are well beyond their general proficiency level. The individual can read uncomplicated, but authentic, prose on familiar subjects that are normally presented in a predictable sequence which aids the reader in understanding. Texts may include descriptions and narrations in contexts such as news items describing frequently occurring events, simple biographical information, social notices, formulaic business letters, and simple technical material written for the general reader. Generally the prose that can be read by the individual is predominantly in straightforward/high-frequency sentence patterns. The individual does not have a broad active vocabulary (that is, which he/she recognizes immediately on sight), but is able to use contextual and real-world cues to understand the text. Characteristically, however, the individual is quite slow in performing such a process. He/she is typically able to answer factual questions about authentic texts of the types described above.


Able to satisfy routine social demands and limited work requirements. Can handle routine work-related interactions that are limited in scope. In more complex and sophisticated work-related tasks, language usage generally disturbs the native speaker. Can handle with confidence, but not with facility, most normal, high-frequency social conversational situations including extensive, but casual conversations about current events, as well as work, family, and autobiographical information. The individual can get the gist of most everyday conversations but has some difficulty understanding native speakers in situations that require specialized or sophisticated knowledge. The individual's utterances are minimally cohesive. Linguistic structure is usually not very elaborate and not thoroughly controlled; errors are frequent. Vocabulary use is appropriate for high-frequency utterances, but unusual or imprecise elsewhere.


Able to write routine social correspondence and prepare documentary materials required for most limited work requirements. Has writing vocabulary sufficient to express himself/herself simply with some circumlocutions. Can write simply about a very limited number of current events or daily situations. Still makes common errors in spelling and punctuation but shows some control of the most common formats and punctuation conventions. Good control of morphology of language (in inflected languages) and of the most frequently used syntactic structures. Elementary constructions are usually handled quite accurately and writing is understandable to a native reader not used to reading the writing of foreigners. Uses a limited number of cohesive devices.

Take a look at the IRL scale, the justification behind it, and an elaborate description of the levels:

Information available through the Summer Institute of Linguistics

On the Defense Language Institute scale of foreign language complexity, which ranges from 1 (simplest) to 4 (most difficult), the value of Russian is 3, with only languages such as Arabic, Korean, Japanese and Chinese being more difficult. Ample individual work will be needed to reach the desired level during a two-month course.

This level of proficiency, as defined for the purposes of this course, assumes acquisition of all regular and frequent irregular grammatical patterns, the 3000-unit lexical minimum (with at least 1000 units used in speech production), and an array of common pragmatic patterns.

  1. Methodology

The course will principally use the communicative contrastive approach. Unlike the one and two hundred courses, which needed to introduce the core grammar of Russian, this course will only touch upon several finer points of grammar while reviewing problem areas of the core grammar. In general, the course will be focused on building reading and listening heuristics as well as techniques of efficient conversation and correspondence. Elements of grammar-and-text methodology will be mediated by simplified decision-making schemata and heuristics. Special emphasis will be put on the cross-cultural differences. See the explanation of how schemata and heuristics have been used in teaching morphology at

  1. Course Outline

The coursework consists of the following: a) classes centered around real-life texts with ample role-playing exercises, b) homework assignments, c) individual on-line work. This course will put a much higher emphasis on the active participation on the part of the students than did the one and two hundred level courses.

Prof. Sipka, a Slavic linguist, will teach the first thirty minutes of the course covering relevant points in grammar, the lexicon, intentional phrases, intercultural competence, as well as the norms of spelling and pronunciation. The remainder of the course will be taught by Ms. Dhaliwal, a native speaker of Russian, who will engage in composition and conversation sessions putting thus the knowledge of language at work.

This course stipulates ample individual work (homework assignments, engaging in on-line interactive training sessions, work with learning objects provided by instructors, etc.)

In the odd weeks of the course the quiz will consist of a composition assignment while in the even weeks the role playing assignment will be used as the quiz result. Best five (out of eight) compositions and five best (out of eight) role-playing tasks will be used to calculate the quiz grade. The midterm exam will cover the first half of the course, the final exam will cover the second half.

The course will encourage cooperative rather than competitive relations among students in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

  1. Grading policy

Students will be graded on the A (excellent) to E (fail) scale depending on proficiency level reached, as defined by the ACTFL.

Click here to see the description of these levels at the SIL pages.




Percentage of the required skills


Advanced plus

90 % and above



80 % and above


Advanced high to Advanced

60 % and above


Intermediate high

40 % and above


Anything lower

39 % and below



The coursework will contribute toward the final grade approximately as follows:

Attendance and participation:

30 %


20 %


20 %

Midterm exam:

10 %

Final exam:

20 %


  1. Course materials


Real-life texts will be used from selected newspapers and other sources. Students are also expected to use selected on-line resources in their grammar and lexicon acquisition effort (see the Links).  Russian. A Practical Grammar with Exercises by Pulkina and Zakhava-Nekrasova will be used for in-class grammatical drills. The textbook Russian as We Speak by Khavronina will be used to review Level 1+ skills.


  1. Schedule

Q=Quiz, ME=Midterm Exam, FE=Final Exam, T –Text, S – Scenario

Click on the topic to get the course materials




Texts and scenarios








Travel, transportation, sightseeing, weather

General, Learning Strategies, Problem areas

T: Printed and radio weather forecasts, News for tourists; S: Talking about weather and climate, Choosing where to go on vacation, renting a car & more



Social life 1: Going out, movies, theaters, bars, restaurants, shopping

The Genitive

T: Theater program, Menu, Newspaper review of night life in Moscow, Articles about prices; S: Deciding which movie to see, Ordering a three-course meal, Grocery shopping & more








Introduction, Social life 2: Home, family, friends; Diseases and their treatment

The Dative, The Accusative

T: House plan; My family, Matrimonial offers from newspapers, Real estate catalogs; S: Renting a flat, Gossiping about one’s neighbors, Visiting a doctor & more



Law, Police, Office, Forms

The Instrumental, The Prepositional

T: Articles about crime and legal processes, common forms; S: Interrogation; Legal process, Getting things done with authorities & more



Politics, media, history, military

The Pronoun

T: Printed and radio news, including war reports S: Campaigning, Conducting an interview, Issuing commands



Business, banking, finances

The Adjective, The Numerals

T: Business news, both printed and radio, Banking ads; S. Conducting a business transaction, opening a bank account & more



Sports, games, hobbies, music

Verbs, Forms

T: Sports section of a newspaper, live coverages, interviews with musicians; S. Talking about one’s hobbies, Chatting about favorite music & more



Culture, customs, religion

Verbs, Aspect

T: Texts about main holidays and customs, Interviews with writers, Excerpts from the key works of literature; S: Explaining American customs & more



E. Links to Course and Post-Course Materials

Level 1+ lexical minimum list

Russian intentional phrases

Major Russian monolingual dictionaries

!!!Major Russian dictionaries and full inflection!!!

Russian-English dictionaries

Russian cursive script and more

On-line Russian concordance

Encyclopedia Krugosvet

Russian Anthology

Searchable Russian grammars

Russian theater

Philosophy in Russian

On-line Russian reference grammar by Robert Beard

On-line Russian grammar exercises by Robert Beard

Russian Web tutor by George Mitrevski

Russian exercises for Golosa texbook by Richard Robin

Great Russian chat

Vesti – Russian omnibus site

Another great news site

Russian radio stations

Russian newspapers

Russian music

Russian jokes


F. How to Section


Q: How do I Russify my keyboard?


Windows 98/2000

Do the following. Choose: Start->Settings->Control Panel->Keyboard.

Click on the Language tab.

Click on the Add button.

Choose Russian

Press OK

Choose the sequence which will toggle between the keyboard layouts (e.g., Left Shift-Ctrl)

Press OK


Windows XP

Start->Control Panel->(if you are not in the category view,  press the “Switch to Category View” button->Date, Time, Language, and Regional Options->Add Other Languages->Press the Language tab-> Press the Details Button -> Add -> Choose Russian-> Press OK -> Choose the Keys settings


Macintosh OS 9 & X


Click here and everything will be explained to you


Q: Where can I find a spelling checker for Russian


On-line spelling checker @

Microsoft Proofing Tools @

Unispell @ (Mac) &


Spellink @

Fingertipsoft @

Orfo @

Also, take a look at: and


Q: When do I use свой,своя,свое rather than мой,своя,свое?


You use свой any time the performer of an action is the same person the object affected by that action belongs to. For example:


Коля взял карандаш Юры. =

Он взял его карандаш. ‘He took his (i.e., somebody else’s pencil, Performer is Kolya, possessor of the pencil is Yura., you do not use svoy)


Коля взял карандаш Коли. =

Он взял свой карандаш. ‘He took his (i.e., his own pencil, Performer is Kolya, possessor of the pencil is Kolya. – the same person => you use svoy)


Two weeks of our course will be devoted to the pronouns. If you do not get it now, you will get it then.


Q: When do I use the perfective and when the imperfective verbal aspect


This is a tough cookie. Do not expect quick and dirty fixes. Two weeks of this course will be devoted to the verbal aspect and we will cover this grammatical issue in depth. As for now, think of the imperfective aspect as of the English progressive (or continuous tenses). For example, in if you say in English:


At this very moment I ___ that book.


you cannot use the Simple Present Tense because you are portraying an ongoing, unfolding action which takes place right now. You have to use the Progressive Present Tense. Thus:


At this very moment, I am reading that book. (not *At this very moment I read that book)


Same thing in Russian. If you have an unfolding event, you have to use the imperfective aspect, as in:


Я теперь/сейчас читаю эту книгу. (not * Я теперь/сейчас прочитаю эту книгу)


Q: How do I travel to Russia to acquire level 3 proficiency


Attend the lecture by Prof. Batalden or contact REESC.

Please join us on Wednesday, September 4 at 1:30 in SS 318.  Presenters will include Dr. Janet Burke, ASU Office of National Scholarship Advisement, Caroline O'Donnell, International Programs Office, and Dr. Stephen Batalden, Russian and East European Studies Consortium.  They will provide an overview of the roles of REESC, ONSA, and IPO in the fellowship application process. Dr. Batalden will discuss specific national fellowship programs that provide support for research and study abroad for undergraduate and graduate students and how to construct your proposal







Q: How do I put my Russian at work here in the Phoenix area?

Here is a reception for you.

You are invited to a Pacific Rim Bankers Outreach event for Russian Executives. The Reception is at 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on September 10th at Dr. Thor’s home at 13641 S. 33rd Street, Phoenix, Arizona. The Arizona State Agricultural Mediation Center together with the Morrison School of Agribusiness is hosting the reception.

We are honored to be one of the recipients of the new administration Trade Promotion Activity grants focusing on Pacific Rim. Come and meet the Russian leaders and help us link with the expanding world markets and emerging cooperative organizations.

Please RSVP at 480 727-1470.  The directions are provided below.

Directions to Dr. Thor’s House:

If you go from the East or North of the Phoenix metro area, get onto I-10 to Tucson

Get off at the Warner Rd. exit

At the exit, go west (right) to the 3rd stop light

That is 48th Street

At 48th Street go South (left) to the first stop light

That is Knox Road

At Knox Rd. go West (right) until the road ends and turns to the left

That is South 33rd Street

Thor’s house is halfway down on the left-hand side.












Q: How can I learn about other Slavic languages?


Go to this lecture

Thursday, September 26, 2002, 1:40pm, SS 318

Serbian Lexicography Today

(in Serbian consecutively interpreted into English).

Click here for full description