Learning the Rules by Derivation

I frequently give my students the opportunity to derive rules by themselves. I write about it in the Teacher’s Book, as well. Why am I doing it? How does it help us in studying Russian as a foreign language in the Soroka course? Let’s figure it out.

First, I would like for you to look in the Teacher’s Book and see what I am talking about.

For instance,  Unit 3, Lesson 2. Quote:

Open the textbooks to Page 11. A teacher reads words out loud and asks students how they can explain the difference  between идет – идут (goes – go),  спит – спят (sleeps – sleep), сидят – сидит (sits – sit), etc. Students should say that we use the words спит, сидит, читает (sleeps, sits, reads) when we talk about one person, and the words спят, сидят, читают (sleep, sit, read) when we talk about a few people.

The second example comes from Unit 7, Lesson1. Quote:

Next, the teacher asks the students, “Did any of you already figure out when we should say зеленый and when we should say зеленая?” Your students should give their answers. If they have problems with answers, you should give them a hint to look at the last letters in the words.

What kind of activity is that? What does it have to do with language? Typically it is the teacher’s job to explain a rule and drill it with students.

Working this way the students should:

1. Remember a rule

2. See the situations in which it works

3. Apply the rule

My teaching experience shows that rules exist in most kids’ heads separately from practical application. And it doesn’t matter whether they play chess, cross the road at a traffic light or learn the Russian language.

I suggest another way: To watch the language, see what changes occur in it and derive the patterns.

What does it give us? Firstly, it improves powers of observation and deduction. It is useful for mental development, and helps us in life.

Secondly, it is helpful because the student makes efforts by himself — his brain is working, it is active.

When you give a ready explanation of a rule, the students should only remember it. But as it is passive perception, they make only small efforts, so they are not motivated enough.

When we derive rules on our own, we use active perception and remember the information more quickly and longer. Because we assumed it, we put our energy into it; we became co-creators.

Many of you will probably argue by saying that children are not able to derive rules. Certainly, they are not. But if we offer them such kind of activity, they will learn by doing it.

There is a possibility that your students will not understand what you want them to do. Most of them don’t even have an idea about existing patterns that can be deduced. Let them discover it.

Let’s open the door to another world where students observe, deduce, and on that basis create their own world in which there is room for the Russian language.

Allow them to compare, to evaluate, and to find connections and logic to derive rules. It will help them to study the Russian language with the Soroka course, and in general will help in life.

Have good rules!

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Soroka. Russian language for children

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