Course Planning

Между нами is a complete first-year college level Russian course that has been designed for programs that have roughly 150 contact hours of instruction. The material is organized into nine units (уроки) and an epilogue, with each урок subdivided into three parts (части). Each часть shares common thematic and grammatical content which unfolds over the course of several episodes (эпизоды). Еach эпизод on the website consists of a Текст, a related set of comprehension activities called Вы всё поняли? (Did You Get All of Тhat?) and a related grammar explanation called Немно́го о языке́ (A Bit About the Language). In addition to the website, there is a print-on-demand workbook of classroom activities (Работа в аудитории) and homework activities (Домашние задания). The authors envision users working through these materials in small cycles, moving between the website and the two workbooks.

Lesson Cycle

You will find a list the communicative and linguistic goals for each unit on the website. You will also find a list of vocabulary encountered in each unit. These lists do not prioritize which words need to be learned for "active" usage and which for "passive" knowledge, so teachers should use the classroom activities manual and the homework activities to determine which words students should focus on for the unit. It should be made explicit to the students that words that regularly appear in the classroom activities and in the homework assignments are the ones that are most likely to appear on quizzes and tests.

Cycles of Instruction

The schedule provided below is intended for a semester program with five 50-minute "hours" per week. If your program has classes lasting more than 50 minutes or classes that do not meet every day (or both), your will need to adjust your pacing accordingly.

Day of work on episode
Activities done in class Homework students do for next class
may do some previewing of the new episode at the end of this class
  • read and listen to new episode (Текст)
  • do the assigned Вы всё поняли? activities online
  • possibly finish any written homework from previous section
Use initial pair/group activities in the Работа в аудитории to:
  • check students' comprehension
  • build command of new vocabulary
  • provide supported contexts for using new language material (vocabulary or grammar construction) in structured input activities
  • create "noticing moments" (i.e., opportunities for students to attend to the meanings conveyed by new grammatical forms
  • do assigned written homework from Домашние задания – often about vocabulary building
  • (possibly) read and work through some of the Немного о языке and related online activities
2 or 2-3
  • Работа в аудитории activities (still nearly all paired and small group) now specifically highlight and practice language that includes new language structure. With rare exceptions, they will involve students in talking about aspects of the story plot or characters, or will encourage students to communicate about themselves using language taken from the episode (i.e., they are not mechanical drills).
  • more active use of vocabulary; at first communicative activities are highly "supported" with full versions of student language containing new language structure written out
  • by the end of day 2 (day 3 for longer texts) activities may consolidate learned material, offering information gap or other interactive activities or tasks
  • if activities for the given text are finished, preview new text; if not, continue one more day
  • Read more about language in Немного о языке if there are remaining topics to introduce
  • continue doing assigned homework from Домашние задания
  • if a new text is to be begun the next day, read and listen to it at home and do the Вы всё поняли? online activities assigned.
3 or 4
Work on new episode's text begins...
  • Finish homework related to previous text
  • Work on Вы всё поняли? activities for new episode


Every unit is roughly the same size, and was designed to take roughly 15 contact hours to complete. In pilot testing, however, we have found that there is some variation among the units. We offer the following guide to help with scheduling.

Contact Hours
Rolling Total
Урок 1
Fall Quarter Fall Semester
(In a intensive 65-hour semester course with highly motivated students. A more typical amount for a 65-hour semester would be through episode 5.1 or 5.2.)
Урок 2
Урок 3
Урок 4
Winter Quarter
Урок 5
Урок 6
Spring Semester
Урок 7
Spring Quarter
Урок 8
Урок 9

The "standard" grammar of a first year Russian course -- all the cases (singular and plural) with their essential usages, and the basic verb system (present, past, future of imperfective and perfective verbs) -- are covered in Units 1-8. Programs that are pressed for time can focus on just the plot in Unit 9 and the epilogue and reduce the time required to about 5-6 contact hours. Programs could also skip episode 7.8 entirely or have students just read the text without activating all the vocabulary.

There are, however, almost no short cuts that instructors can take in the first five units as the grammar and sentence structures are high frequency and highly useful.  One might save a bit of time by going lightly on some vocabulary sets, such as the clothing words presented in episode 1.8, the adjectives and nouns of nationality in episode 2.3, the household objects presented in episode 4.1, or the hobbies presented in episode 5.8.

For other institutional contexts where there are fewer than 100 contact hours per year, instructors may find it necessary to save Unit 7 for the start of a second year of Russian. In this case, instructors are strongly encouraged to start the year with some intensive review of the characters and the storyline. This will help refresh the memories of students after the summer and perhaps give some context for students who might have used a different first-year textbook.