It is my pleasure to write the recommendation for the Soroka Russian language course and emphasize the foreign language teaching methodology behind this language course. The Soroka course is geared toward children at the ages between seven years old and ten years old. At this age, children are very inquisitive and curious about discovering new things. They perceive and observe everything they can be exposed to. The uniqueness of the course is that it is very interactive and communicative. Through the course, the main characters (who are children themselves) along with their family members and friends teach Russian through interaction with language learners: conversations and role plays as well as language games are used. It is common knowledge that children learn from each other faster and better.
However, you might still have the burning question
“Why do we need to adopt Soroka Russian language course for children as a foreign language course?”
Let us together become the foreign-language-teaching methodology detectives and investigate what lies at the foundation of the course.
the language acquisition approach that is obvious, without any doubt and any detective tools, is the Communicative Approach. The main feature of the approach is emphasis on the learner’s ability to communicate various functions, such as asking and answering questions, making requests, describing, narrating, and comparing. Task assignment and problem solving, two main operational features of the Communicative Approach, are present in the Soroka course from units to units. Hands down – this approach is the backbone of the Soroka course. We can detect many conversations and dialogues which involve children to speak Russian without focusing on memorizing vocabulary or grammar structures. In their turn, vocabulary and grammar structures are learned through conversations, role plays, and language games, which leads to the learner’s deduction.
in the Soroka course, the Communicative Approach goes hand in hand with the Total Physical Response (TPR) Approach. The TPR approach appeals to the children’s five senses. Therefore, it is widely used through the Soroka course in the form of role plays and games as well as introducing and learning vocabulary and grammar structures through motions and gestures. The children act out actions described in an oral narrative, which leads to the demonstration of their comprehension of the language.
the direct method, also known as the natural approach, is in many ways the opposite of the grammar-translation method. In the Soroka course, the instruction is conducted sorely in Russian, and grammar is de-emphasized in favor of induction, where students are supposed to figure out rules for themselves. Children are always encouraged to speak, making this the ultimate in the student-centered course.
the Soroka language course follows the American Council of Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Proficiency guidelines. The course consists of the three sub courses (Soroka-1, Soroka-2, and Soroka-3) that correspond to the ACTFL language proficiency levels – Novice Low/Novice Mid, Novice Mid/Novice High, and Novice High/Intermediate Low. All three sub courses are related to each other: you must start teaching/learning from Soroka-1 for you to be able to do Soroka-2 and Soroka-3. At the beginning of Soroka-1 sub course, language learners are at Novice Low level of language proficiency, at which they can introduce themselves and get acquainted with other people, greet people, and so on. At the end of Soroka-1 sub course, language learners are at Novice Mid level of language proficiency, at which they can say what they are doing, describe other people’s activities, tell time and age, talk about food and clothing and colors as well as describe other people’s appearance. At the beginning of Soroka-2 sub course, language learners are expected to be at Novice Mid and move to Novice High at the end of Soroka-2. During Soroka-2 sub course, language learners will learn how to count until 100 and tell their addresses, talk about and distinguish between location and direction, and express their opinions. They will be able to read and retell short stories. When language learners start Soroka-3 sub course, they are to be at Novice High, and at the end of Soroka-3, they will proceed to Intermediate Low. Children can talk about seasons of the year, describe their feelings and wellbeing, and are introduced to Russian humor, culture, and geography.
all four skills of language proficiency are addressed: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. Children start learning Russian by listening and repeating after the teacher first. Moving from lesson to lesson, children’s Listening ability improves – they can understand what they hear and decode sounds. Now we are talking about listening comprehension, not just hearing. Furthermore, the Soroka course provides many opportunities for children to listen to Russian-speaking children talk through audio exercises. The next skill Speaking follows the Listening one in no time. From the first lesson children start accumulating vocabulary, which they put to practice through Speaking exercises such as conversations, role plays and language games. The other two skills – Reading and Writing – go hand in hand. As soon as children learn the Russian alphabet, they start reading the vocabulary they learn in Listening and Speaking. In this way they start working on their reading comprehension and building up their Russian vocabulary. Writing skill comes next immediate: the Russian letters are written in the same way as the letters in many languages except for the Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese languages. During the very first lesson, children learn how to write their names in Russian.
the last but not the least thing to notice is that Soroka Russian language course has been already translated and adopted in many countries in the world. Germany, Italy, France (in Europe), Turkey, Mongolia, Japan (in Asia), and countries in South America are just few countries worth mentioning among others that have already adopted the Soroka course and have been successful: children can speak and understand Russian!
Therefore, I am confident that the Soroka Russian language course will enhance elementary school curriculum as well as children’s life. It will bring great asset to any language programs. Again, I have no hesitation in recommending the Soroka course to you as an outstanding foreign language course. If you have further questions, hesitate to contact me.
Oksana Mahecha, PhD
ESL/Foreign Languages Consultant