Exploring Russia

Making good on the SCATS class description’s promise, Russian instructor Ekaterina Myakshina offered incredibly authentic stories to her students, captured from the folklore of the Russian culture. On Monday, the story was all about Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Beautiful.

Ekaterina opened with a video of Baba Yaga and then showed four illustrations of scenes from a story about Baba Yaga and Vasilisa.  She asks the students to come up with their own stories based on the illustrations, and posed the question, “Is Baba Yaga bad?” Based on the previous video and the four illustrations, every group came to the same conclusion that Baba Yaga is indeed bad.

Ms. Myakshina provided everyone a copy of Vasilisa the Beautiful and asked everyone to take turns reading to see the final conclusion. While the final word was not completely contradictory to everyone’s thoughts about Baba Yaga, the story does have some twists and turns that gave the reader a varied perspective of Baba Yaga since she did save Vasilisa in the end.

After discussing the story, the students were excited to continue their lessons on how to speak Russian. Ms. Myakshina placed pictures on the board of a family, and asked in Russian, “Who is it?” (pronounced “Katoe Eta” or “kto eto”) Pointing at the grandfather, the students said in unison, “Eto dedushka!” (It’s the grandfather!).

Each family member was named: sestra (sister), bratt (brother), mat (mother), otetz (father), and babushka (grandmother). It was quite impressive watching the students perform introductions and make small conversations in their new language after only five classes.

Students walked the room, greeted each other, and enthusiastically spoke the Russian language. When asked how they felt about it, Jessica L. and Lily T. agreed they felt they’ve learned Russian in the few days they’d been in class.