Methodological Approach

Ме́жду на́ми incorporates principles of communicative and task-based language teaching. The authors have organized the language input, explanations and activities using an inductive approach to learning Russian. However, the website and actvities also feature resources to help learners and teachers who are used to more deductive approaches to learning. Teachers should give high priority to having students make sense of the language of the story line (the “input” in SLA terms) and attend to how words and specific forms of words contribute to the meaning of the sentence and text. Much of our approach to the grammar instruction has incorporated facets of Input Processing, a theory of language learning that prioritizes having learners develop ways of correctly mapping form to meaning.

We prioritize having learners first show comprehension of the narrative and then map words and forms used in the story line to the meanings they convey; the learners’ initial work with the input is structured and active, even if they are not creating new grammar forms in output-based practice immediately. The input-based activities lay the groundwork for the output-based activities that follow: these encourage learners to use the forms, words, and sentences they have encountered and understood. Output-based work allows students to expand their abilities to express their own meanings, and to exchange information and opinions with others, both in class and in written work. We strongly encourage instructors not to bypass the initial input comprehension activities and not to jump immediately to output-based exercises. Learners who do the input-based work first have had a chance to get familiar with the new vocabulary and map its forms to the correct meanings before they are asked to deploy these in their own speech.

Teachers interested in learning more about Input Processing theory and its corresponding approach to instruction are encouraged to read Processing Instruction: Theory, Research, and Commentary (Ed. Bill VanPatten, Routledge, 2003) and also William Comer and Lynne deBenedette’s "Processing Instruction and Russian: Further Evidence is IN" (Foreign Language Annals 44.4 [2011]: 646-673).