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About That, Which Did Not Happen. Annotated Russian Reader (B1-B2) in Russian (Russian) Paperback – 2015
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About That, Which Did Not Happen (О том, чего не было), An annotated Russian reader is intended for low-intermediate and intermediate level students of Russian (B1-B2, ТРКИ I-II). The story is a dynamic narrative by the well-known author Victoria Tokareva about one doctor’s lifelong dream to own a tiger. Tokareva masterfully portrays how Dima’s dream dictates his inner world and dealings with the people around him. Through allusion, parody, and repetition, Tokareva examines the challenge of believing in dreams and aspirations in the modern world. The story will definitely engage learners as they master grammatical and lexical structures. The reader can be used as a supplement to language courses or by learners who study independently. The text of the story is slightly abridged, but preserves the original language and narrative. The book provides a wide range of exercises to check reading comprehension and the accompanying activities will help develop students’ lexical and grammatical skills. Discussion questions and essay prompts enhance students’ speaking and writing skills. The reader will help learners of Russian to expand their vocabulary, review and build on some common syntactic constructions, and develop language skills in formal and informal social contexts.
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Evgeny Dengub, Petia Alexieva, and Colleen Lucey do fine work with editing the text into a highly readable version for second-year students. Important vocabulary is highlighted and glossed, and each of the story’s five sections has exercises that go along with it – true or false, order of events, questions about the text, retelling, vocabulary, syntax, discussion, and writing assignments. The exercises bring the story to life for students, who gain important language skills through the pleasure of reading and thinking about literature. There are also general questions for discussion and writing that help with analysis, aphorisms that can be memorized, a section for grammar reinforcement, and a full glossary. The volume is a fortuitous and rare intersection of excellent, accessible writing and deft editing that makes an excellent learning tool for students of Russian.
The grammar is thorough, with plenty of exercises on a spectrum of difficulty for both native and non-native speakers. Though it is based on comparisons to the English language, it explains the English grammar as well. It draws from literary works rather than workbook-style 'excerpts', adding more substance for classroom discussion and is, of course, cited for those students who would like to pick up the original works. I have no complaints regarding this text, and it will serve as a great relief to the many Russian instructors struggling to come up with patchwork, quality curriculum after introductory materials have been exhausted.