Da or nyet?! Russian Language for Beginners


Hands holding small globe and Russian flagOverview:
Russian is best learnt when both written and oral skills are taught together within the context of the Russian way of life. Russian culture is, therefore, an essential part of this eight-week beginners course designed to help you learn the basic language skills necessary for communicating in Russian.

Course materials:
A course workbook is provided.

Target audience:
This course is for beginners and those with limited knowledge of Russia who wish to gain an introduction to its language and culture. It is suitable for anyone who:

  • is interested in Russia and the language and culture 
  • has a Russian-speaking partner or adopted children from Russia 
  • is planning to visit Russia or its neighbouring states where Russian is spoken.
  • is interested in international science, math, history, national security, foreign service, film and cultural studies, and the arts
  • would like to gain knowledge of the Russian culture and way of life and about New Zealand–Russia connections.

Learning objectives:
By the end of the course, you will have:

  • acquired basic reading and writing skills in Russian
  • gained a basic understanding of Russian grammar (nouns – gender and some cases; verbs (present tense); adverbs; pronouns; numbers and adjectives)
  • learnt basic vocabulary and the linguistic and cultural competence to handle situations such as:
    • introducing themselves and their family and friends
    • expressing likes and/or dislikes and requesting things (in shops and restaurants)
    • visiting places (reading signs, staying at hotels, making enquiries)

Course outline:

Week 1: Introduction to the Russian language; the alphabet, stress and vowels; Diversity of the region (video and discussion)

Week 2: Basic reading and writing skills; basic geographic names; greetings and goodbyes; reading signs when travelling around Russia; the Russian language and cultural identity (video and discussion)

Week 3: Nouns, gender; asking simple questions and making simple statements in Russian; Russian literature, music and art (video and discussion)

Week 4: Pronouns; introducing yourself and your family; “I” and “we” in Russian; Home and family in the Russian world (video and discussion)

Week 5: Verbs; present tense; how to express likes and dislikes (including hobbies, interests); how to request things (in shops and restaurants); “I have”. “Do you have”;

Week 6: Adverbs; numbers; finding your way around and asking for and understanding directions; asking about prices in shops; how to undertake business in modern Russia (video and discussion)

Week 7: Adjectives; colours; public holidays and months of the year; Russian hospitality; myths about vodka (the “Russian antifreeze”) (video and discussion)

Week 8: Summary and discussion; presentation of certificates of achievement.

Learning activities focus on listening, speaking, reading and writing Russian. To reinforce your learning homework is encouraged. There is no formal assessment.

There is a short break half-way through each session, and tea/coffee is provided. You are welcome to bring your own refreshments if you wish.

Class limit:
This course is limited to a maximum of 20 participants, so please enrol early.

Olga Suvorova has a PhD in Cultural Studies from a leading international university, Lomonosov Moscow State University, and a Master of Arts with Distinction in Linguistics, Teaching, and Interpreting/Translation. Her specialism is intercultural communication. Olga is the vice president of the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters.

“Excellent tutor who brought the subject to life! Great introduction to Russian”, An Introduction to Russian Language and Culture participant (2018)

“This course was fun and a fantastic intro to approaching the Russian language. The teacher, Olga, was lively and made me look forward to the course every week”, An Introduction to Russian Language and Culture participant (2018)

“Olga is an enthusiastic and energetic teacher which inspires and motivates you. She created a wonderful ambience for the course. Whilst the language is quite challenging to learn, Olga created an environment in which everyone felt comfortable participating”, An Introduction to Russian Language and Culture participant (2018)

Relevant links:
DaDa! Russian language for post-beginners
The Mysterious Code of Russian Grammar
School of Languages and Cultures
Russian Keys
Language Learning Centre

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email: conted@vuw.ac.nz

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.