Teaching Four Skills In The Russian Web-Based Class

Galina Timofeeva, The Defense Language Institute

In the Internet era, when all human life is reflected on the Web, and our everyday activities depend on the Web, the linguistic issue language in cyberspace (G. Timofeeva "Russian Internet Language: Innovations on Web Sites" New Zealand Slavonic Journal, 2001, Vol. 35) and the methodological issue how to use Web sites in a foreign language classroom are becoming the "hottest" questions linked to the so-called new field of web-based education. The search for ways of integrating Web-sites into a "learner-centered" class can be presented as combinations of the newest language learning techniques and traditional methods of teaching four skills —listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

The Web-based class with the use of printed copies of the Web sites might be proposed as a special way for studying Russian as a foreign language in the USA. The Russian Internet currently is a unique source of contemporary Russian which can provide language examples and dynamic changes at all levels of Russian —from graphics to punctuation — as well as communicative patterns of spoken Russian to organize a piece of speech appropriately in social situations.

Selection of sites from Russian electronic editions might be organized in classification of the Web sites or e-resources that can be used as a primary educational database for the Web-based class. E-resources might be used for a part of a lesson or for a full lesson with class activities in reading, speaking, listening, and writing.

My paper provides helpful tips and suggestions which can allow teachers of foreign languages to update course materials, to motivate students to learn making creative, practical, effective, and enthusiastic atmosphere in the class. Below there are two examples of the Web-based class:

I. A part of a lesson: 20 MINUTES ON THE WEB might be called READING IN THE REAL WORLD. This mini-lesson includes pre-reading activities, the main reading activities, and post-reading activities with detailed tasks (e.g. scanning for information, reading for the facts of the main idea, selecting key words or phrases given often as hyperlinks in Web-texts, asking/answering fact-based questions) for each segment of the Web-reading in the class as well as special exhibits based on the Russian-English Web-sources in order to illustrate these activities.

II. A full lesson: 50 MINUTES ON THE WEB might be called E-SHOPPING IN RUSSIAN. This lesson covers pre-speaking, the main-speaking, and follow-up activities with concrete tasks (e.g. scanning for the search in the e-shop — sections, products, prices, and etc.; sharing ideas about "what/how/why to buy" with classmates; comparison e-shopping on the Russian and American Internet; discussions about perspectives e-commerce from the point of view of globalization of a market economy).

The way of Web-based instruction gives the teachers opportunities to use communication technologies to create alternative material for Russian courses and may increase the effectiveness of teaching four skills.