In this note we would like make a few comments about when and how this textbook can be used, and to give an outline of the modules together with explanations of their Russian titles, which are intended as mnemonic reminders of what the topics of the modules are, so that instructors will know when seeing the titles.
The exercises in Russian Aspect in Conversation are all automatically checked and the textbook lends itself to independent use. However, students will undoubtedly benefit from a native-speaker instructor willing to answer questions that come up and create active exercises beyond the aspectual-choice exercises contained here. At the same time, the ideas about Russian aspect underlying this textbook and its pragmatic focus differs from the mainstream RFL approach, and instructors may find its content unfamiliar. It may take a little time for an instructor to get used to the explanations presented here.
Apart from aspectual usage, the grammatical complexity of Russian Aspect in Conversation is fairly low, as the Russian-language material consists almost exclusively of language characteristic of simple verbal exchanges. The vocabulary varies, and the dialogues in modules where the speaker-listener dynamic is more complex to provide the necessary conversational context. Difficult vocabulary items are provided with definitions that can be accessed by clicking on them, except in exercise dialogues where they are glossed under the dialogues. Students should be ready to encounter plenty of vocative forms of address such as Саш, Тань and бабуль (from Саша, Таня and бабуля respectively).
We should point out that due to the varying nature of the issues involved with the content of individual parts and modules, beyond the general procession from more passive exercises to the aspect-choice exercises, the structure of individual modules is not identical; they can vary in the number of exercises and how they proceed to the final aspect-choice exercise.
Lest there be any confusion, Russian Aspect in Conversation is not intended as a standalone Russian textbook for a four-skills curriculum. We believe that it can serve as a useful complement to RFL materials with more communicative bandwidth at the upper-intermediate and advanced levels. Beyond parts 1 and 2, which should be covered before proceeding to the core parts 3, 4 and 5, we hope that the individual core parts can be used independently of one another, and we even consider it possible that individual modules can be used independently.
As regards the time needed to go through the entire textbook on top of other course materials, covering all of Russian Aspect in Conversation in a single semester is probably not realistic. Spreading it out over two semesters, for example over the 4th and 5th semesters, seems like a more doable plan (the 4th semester is the earliest time students could engage with it productively). In this regard, we feel compelled to remind potential instructors that it does contain fairly in-depth commentary on the conversational dynamics involved, especially in part 4 on imperatives, but not only there. Our general feeling is that spreading it out over two or three semesters is optimal, in a more or less piecemeal fashion, to give students time to incrementally digest the pragmatic underpinnings of Russian aspectual usage, which can only be mildly described as counterintuitive by nature to non-Russians. It should be pointed out, however, that the content does not proceed from simplest to most complex—the content of each oft the three core parts has its own idiosyncrasies and challenges.
Overview of Contents with Descriptions of the Modules Titled in Russian
|1 Identifying Perfective and Imperfective Verbs|
|2 Imperfective Verbs Can Refer to Single Completed Actions|
|3.1 Пожалуй, начнём?||Infinitive complements of phase verbs, and aspectual usage in phase verbs (начать, закончить, etc.)|
|3.2 Хочу купить, но не хочу переплачивать||Infinitive complements of хотеть/захотеть|
|3.3 Ну хоть это ты можешь понять?||Infinitive complements of мочь/смочь, and the aspectual properties of мочь/смочь|
|3.4 Можно, если осторожно…||Infinitive complements of можно|
|3.5 Надо же такое придумать…||Infinitive complements of надо|
|3.6 Всё равно, рано или поздно придётся расплачиваться…||Infinitive complements of приходиться/прийтись, and the aspectual properties of приходиться/прийтись|
|3.7 Supplement: Чего спрашивать?||Aspectual usage in certain kinds of questions with bare infinitives.|
|3.8 Infinitives—Final Review Exercise|
|4.1 Imperfective Imperatives Can Refer to Single Completable Actions|
|4.2 Imperatives: Some Basic Patterns|
|4.3 Раз хочешь, бери…||Imperatives used to grant approval|
|4.4 Чувствуйте себя как дома!||Imperatives used as invitations|
|4.5 Нет времени объяснять!||Imperatives used in emergency warnings|
|4.6 Давай-давай-давай!||Authoritative/impatient imperatives|
|4.7 Сходи посмотри…||The difference between сходи… and иди...|
|4.8 Не сдавайтесь!||Negated imperatives|
|4.9 Imperatives—Final Review Exercise|
|5.1 Ты когда-нибудь пробовал дождик на вкус?||Past-tense questions and statements about general experience|
|5.2 Приходил Серёжка, поиграли мы немножко||Past-tense questions and statements involving actions whose results have been canceled|
|5.3 – Предупреждали, я тебя спрашиваю?
– Предупрежди… дали… дили….
|Past-tense statements of fact with verbs of communication|
|5.4 Я слышала, что жизнь прекрасна||Past-tense statements telling about the source of the speaker’s information|
|5.5 Повезло тебе, рыбка, я уже обедал сегодня||Past-tense statements implying that the action does not need to be performed again|
|5.6 Всё будет хорошо – я узнавала!||Past-tense statements providing supporting evidence for the speaker’s view|
|5.7 Да кто их просил?||Past-tense statements and questions expressing disapproval|
|5.8 Слышали новость?||Past-tense questions in contexts of uncertainty|
|5.9 Как я же говорил, что я никогда не повторяюсь!||Discourse reminders|
|5.10 Other Communicative Purposes|
|5.11 Imperfective Statements of Fact—Final Review Exercise|
|Afterword: Russian Aspect, Sequencing, and Goal-Orientation|