Russian Language Journal


Irina Six


Russian, textbook, language, speakers, verbal


Anyone who has studied or taught Russian using the textbook В пути, authored by Olga Kagan, Frank Miller, and Ganna Kudyma, is probably familiar with the following thought-provoking prompt: В каком контексте? ‘Think of a situation when you could say’: Ты звонила домой сегодня? – Ты позвонила домой сегодня? ‘Did you call [imperfective] home today? – Did you call [perfective] home today?’ or Они не приходили. – Они не пришли. ‘They did not come [imperfective]. – They did not come [perfective]’(Kagan, Miller and Kudyma 2006, 79). This is one of the rare examples of assignments where Russian as a Second Language (RL2) students are asked to explicitly describe the context of an element of Russian speech. While this is a typical task for native Russian speakers (such assignments are routinely used in Russian middle school textbooks), RL2 learners are seldom prompted to provide an explicit description of the context in which the Russian utterance occurs and usually find this task challenging.