This web-based language learning project is alternately referred to as Development of Russian Language Modules to Support Differentiated Learning and Generate Empirical Data on Student Performance. It was developed by 2001 MITH Faculty Fellow, Professor Maria Lekic from Asian and East European Languages and Cultures.
The project involved the teaching and analysis of adult foreign language acquisition within relatively unscripted naturalistic settings through the design of computerized modules for individual or classroom involving specialized vocabularies (such as Russian for business use, space science, etc.). Working with MITH’s programmer and technical staff at the American Councils for International Education (ACTR), Dr. Lekic developed a testbed of interactive tools that substantially advance language acquisition online tutorials.
The Business Russian project initially developed fourteen Internet-accessible Russian language learning modules- four beginner-level modules, six intermediate-level modules, and four advanced-level module – plus a module on the Cyrillic alphabet. The modules could be used as a complement to a standard second or third-year Russian course or as stand-alone one-semester courses in Business Russian. The web-based Business Russian Modules included sets of self-paced practice activities that developed what are referred to in the literature as the “enabling skills” of grammar and vocabulary. These relied, in turn, on two basic texts, one written and one oral, which enhance reading and listening proficiency.
All of Lekic’s activities on the Business Russian project before, during and after her fellowship led to the formation of Russnet, a Russian-Language field resource center which provides Russian-language learning services and products – information, language modules, courses, materials, in-service teacher training, databases, discussion forums, and gateways to other Russian language resources.