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SLA1: Use of Russian

This paper introduces you to the essential elements of Russian grammar, starting with the declension of the nouns and verbal conjugation and ending with complex sentences with subordinate clauses, including the use of the subjunctive. The course covers a lot of ground very quickly. It will enable you both to understand and to use actively grammatical structures that form the basis of Russian. In addition, you will acquire a wide range of vocabulary and will learn how to read and understand authentic texts without a dictionary.

Aims and objectives: 

By the end of the academic year students are expected to:

  • be able to write legibly in Russian
  • know the basic rules of Russian spelling and punctuation
  • recognize and use actively the basic grammatical structures of the Russian language
  • write with a high degree of grammatical accuracy
  • build up a vocabulary sufficient  to manipulate the language in order to express, in written Russian, your thoughts and opinions on a variety of everyday topics as well as of topic of general interest
  • engage effectively and with confidence with written texts of intermediate-level difficulty
Course materials: 

The basic course book in the first year will be Colloquial Russian: The Complete Course for Beginners (Routledge, 2009 edition), textbook and cassette or CD, by Svetlana le Fleming, Susan E. Kay. It will be used in supervisions during Michaelmas Term. For work in class and written homework you will receive handouts based on Colloquial Russian. In Lent and Easter Terms you will also be working with past exam papers.

To supplement classes and supervisions, you are recommended to use the following resources from the Internet:

Recommended reference works:

  • The Oxford Russian Dictionary (Russian-English, English-Russian OUP)
  • A.I. Smirnitskii, Russian-English online dictionary
Teaching and learning: 

There is a one-hour Use of Russian class per week. These classes will include exercises in:

  • translation from English into Russian of short sentences or brief passages of continuous prose, requiring the use of specific grammatical points and structures
  • written responses (in Russian) to questions on brief texts in Russian, including questions about  the content, the meanings of individual phrases and about  some ideas in the text.

There is also a weekly Grammar Workshop, which follows broadly the same sequence of grammatical points as the Conversation and Listening Comprehension classes. Within this framework the agenda is to some extent flexible, depending on the particular difficulties experienced by a given set of students.

In the Michaelmas Term, you will also have one weekly supervision on Russian grammar and vocabulary where you will be reinforcing  the materials studied in the Use of Russian and Grammar Workshop classes. The supervisions will be taught in groups of two or three, and you will have the opportunity to concentrate on and to consolidate your grasp of those parts of grammar and the aspects of vocabulary that you find more challenging.

For the SLA1 Moodle site, please see here.


In the course of the academic year, you will receive regular feedback on weekly homework both in the Use of Russian classes and Grammar workshops.  Cumulative assessment of your progress in grammar and vocabulary in the form of a written test will take place at the end of Michaelmas and Lent Terms. In addition, there will be regular vocabulary tests, weekly if necessary.

This Paper is assessed in a three-hour written examination, which takes place at the end of the academic year. The examination consists of three sections, containing a variety of language exercises:

Section A: grammar exercises designed to test your grasp of the basics of Russian morphology (declension of nouns, pronouns and adjectives; verbal conjugation; formation of the imperative; verbal aspects; verbs of motion; participles; verbal adverbs; comparative degree of adverbs and adjectives).

Section B: sentences or/and brief texts in English for translation into Russian to test your active command of various grammatical structures.

Section C: a text in Russian, with questions about the content and vocabulary to test your comprehension skills and your ability to  create a coherent written response to the text.

Examples of past exam papers are available Camtools. 

Course Contacts: 
Natasha Franklin

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