Лучше один раз увидеть......: Film Clips in Teaching Russian

Mara Sukholutskaya, East Central University

Developing cross-cultural competence along with traditional skills of listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing has recently become one of the major goals of language teaching. Using film clips gives an excellent opportunity to reach such goals since they showcase both the language and cultural components of a Russian language curriculum.

Modern students prefer visual information to written sources since most get their understanding of the world mainly through visual images. A large variety of Russian films on videotapes and DVDs is currently available. However, for classroom purposes, preference should be given to the movies which have withstood the test of time. Despite the drastic social changes that occurred in Russian society at the end of the twentieth century, the cultural taste of the majority of the population has not changed that much. Movies of the 60s, 70s, and 80s are still very popular and are frequently shown on Russian TV stations, both in Russia and the United States. They can become a great source of valuable language and culture information.

Cinematography expands the walls of the classroom taking students to city streets, living rooms of common Russians, offices and farms offering a unique opportunity to peek in on the real life of people, to get closer to understanding their values, mentalities, and everyday challenges. One of the definite benefits from using film in language learning is the diversification of audio samples that can include voices of male and female characters of a broad age range. In addition to providing authentic language material in real life situations, film fragments create an emotionally uplifting learning environment, help to maintain a high level of attention and also fit the trend of capitalizing on entertainment in the learning process.

Film excerpts can be incorporated in presentation and mastering stages of almost any conversational and grammar topic. They are applicable starting from the elementary through advanced levels. Film segments also increase the opportunity to create valuable language and cross-cultural clusters for regular classroom instruction. Carefully chosen film segments would validate and authenticate textbook materials and teacher’s explanations.