Teaching Russian Verbs of Motion through Early Cinema

For the intermediate student of Russian, there is no topic more daunting than motion verbs. Verbs that denote motion further complicate the language’s aspect system (already difficult to master), and for non-native speakers, these verbs express surprisingly precise ideas. This project and paper aim to improve upon static, pictorial models of motion that textbooks offer to students, and offers lesson plans that use silent film clips in the classroom to better accustom students to the difficult task of narrating how one moves in Russian. By placing an emphasis on the centrality of storytelling, the teaching materials I produce encourage the instruction of conceptual thinking first (what Dan Slobin has called “thinking for speaking”), which helps students to master these verbal forms after they have become more acquainted with the kinetic and narrative contexts that require them. (Full paper submitted to a journal.)