Learning Russian through Poetry in the Russian as a Foreign Language Classroom

Serafima Tsung-huei Hsiung


The use of literature in foreign language teaching has been a subject of heated debate for a long time. The present paper aspires to argue that the use of literature, in particular poetry, can be used as stimulus to motivate students playing the role of the +1 in Krashen’s “input hypothesis” (1982, 1985, 1991), provided that it is appropriately integrated in the teaching along the lines proposed by Savvidou (2004); furthermore, this “integrated approach” becomes an excellent tool in enabling the teacher to familiarize students with the cultural apect of language learning (Shchukin, 2003; Brown, 1986; Fortunatova, 2004). To achieve its purposes the present paper presents a case study of using poetry in a Russian as a Foreign Language (RFL) class in Taiwan following the principles of the “integrated approach”. The case study is located in context both through a review of the role of poetry reading in foreign language and through a review of Russian teaching in Taiwan (with special attention paid to the opportunities and limitations of holding this case study in National Taiwan University). Then the paper proceeds to present the nethodology used in integrating the teaching of Pushkin’s poem “To Chaadaev” and Lermontov’s “The Sail” in this particular RFL class, and pays special attention to a problem students faced with enunciating properly the rhythm of the poems (a problem that was not predicted by Savvidou’s “integrated approach”), as well as the steps taken to solve this problem. Finally, the paper presents the evaluation of the progress made by the students and concludes by emphasizing how the “integrated approach” can enhance both the students’ creativity and their ability to engage into autonomous learning.

Keywords: Literature Teaching, Russian as a Foreign Language (RFL), Poetry Reading, Integrated Approach


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.6667/interface.1.2016.22


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