Natalia Dizenko

Previous Courses


Beginning Russian

Open, Seminar—Year

At a time of great crisis in Russia and in Ukraine, the study of Russian remains essential to the understanding of Russian politics, history, and culture. It is also an easy move from Russian to the study of other Slavic languages, including not just Ukrainian but also Belarusian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian, etc. To learn a new language is to open yourself to another worldview, both as you gain entry into another culture and as your own sense of self is transformed. In another language, you are still you, but the tools that you use to create and express that identity change. As English speakers find themselves in Russian, they first need to come to terms with an often complicated grammar. We will tackle that aspect of our work through a degree of analytical thought, a great deal of memorization, and the timely completion of our often lengthy biweekly homework assignments. Even as I encourage students to reflect on the very different means of expression that Russian offers, I also ask that they engage in basic but fully functional conversational Russian at every point along the way. Our four hours of class each week will be devoted to actively using what we know in both pair and group activities, role play, dialogues, skits, songs, etc. As a final project at the end of each semester, students will create their own video skits. Note that students are required to meet with the Russian assistant weekly in addition to class; attendance at our weekly Russian table is strongly encouraged.


Intermediate Russian

Intermediate, Seminar—Year

At the end of this course, students should feel that they have a fairly sophisticated grasp of Russian and the ability to communicate in Russian in any situation. After the first year of studying the language, students will have learned the bulk of Russian grammar; this course will emphasize grammar review, vocabulary accumulation, and regular oral practice. Class time will center on the spoken language, and students will be expected to participate actively in discussions based on new vocabulary. Regular written homework will be required, along with weekly conversation classes with the Russian assistant. Attendance at Russian Table is strongly encouraged. Conference work will focus on the written language. Students will be asked to read short texts by the author(s) of their choice, with the aim of appreciating a very different culture and/or literature while learning to read independently, accurately, and with as little recourse to the dictionary as possible.