Thanks to the generous support of the CLS travel fund, I was able to participate at the annual conference of American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL) held on January 6-9, 2011 in Pasadena, California. AATSEEL is a national organization uniting the scholars specializing in Eastern Europe and is an affiliate member to the Modern Languages Association. The mission of AATSEEL is “to advance the study and promote the teaching of Slavic and East European languages, literatures, and cultures on all educational levels.” I have been a regular presenter at this conference for more than ten years and I am currently the abstract reviewer for the language pedagogy division. I found attending these conferences intellectually very stimulating and very important for my professional growth as a language teacher.
My recent research interests have focused around improving the reading comprehension skills for students at the Advanced level. For this year’s conference I organized a panel Teaching Reading Strategies to the Students of Russian where I presented a paper Approaches to Teaching an Authentic Literary Text at the Advanced level. This presentation grew out of my work on a Dostoevsky multimedia reader for Advanced Russian. My paper was well-received and I am planning to do additional research on this important topic. Since teaching reading skills is an area that particularly interests me, I was invited to chair another panel on reading strategies Enhancing the Efficacy of Reading Instruction, where I had a chance to hear about other projects happening at other institutions.
While at the conference, I also participated in a round table on an ACTR Post-Secondary Russian Essay Competition, chaired by Ben Rifkin, a noted expert on second-language acquisition. This roundtable was dedicated to the annual ACTR Post-Secondary Russian Essay Contest where my students from Yale University have been participating and winning every year during the past ten years. The panelists from other schools had a valuable opportunity to exchange ideas and suggestions regarding the organization and the structure of the future essay contests.
The language pedagogy panels in general were very stimulating, as well as the informal discussions with colleagues, and I was able to get a lot of new ideas to apply in my classes here at Yale.