Moscow mission;Secondary;Reviews;Modern Languages

5th March 1999 at 00:00
MOSKVA DLYA VAS!. By John Langran. Video. Price for individuals pound;29; for schools and colleges pound;129 + VAT RUSLAN 1. CD-Rom (requires Windows 3.1 or Windows 95). Single user price pound;39 (pound;27.30 to those who bought the 'Ruslan 1' coursebook). Additional copies for use in schools pound;13.Both available from Ruslan, 19 Highfield Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 9HL; tel: 0121 449 1578 Ruslan, a two-part Russian course, was developed in the mid-1990s to provide materials for adult learners at evening classes. However, it has seen a steady increase in sales in schools, and now a video and CD-Rom have been published to accompany the books.

The 47-minute video, Moskva dlya Vas!, takes the learner through 15 everyday situations, linked by a narrative about a visit to Moscow. Visually appealing, it uses simple but authentic speech: "This is the language they speak to you at the airport!", as one student exclaimed. The video should prove a pleasurable accompani-ment to the original books, although, like all videos, has limited potential for the classroom.

The most interesting addition to the course is the CD-Rom, which John Langran has produced with his co-author Natalya Veshnyeva. It consists of a section introducing the Cyrillic alphabet and other basics, followed by 52 dialogues, with translations, vocabularies and exercises, clips from the video, grammar explanations, word lists and dictionary. Though linked to both the video and the textbooks, it could constitute a beginner's course on its own.

From the technical point of view, it is better designed than similar materials I have seen for any language; simple to install, and imaginative enough to be entertaining, with easy-to-follow on-screen instructions.

The programming was done by Mike Beilby, of the Univer-sity of Birmingham, who has adopted a multiple-choice approach, where students have to pick one out of a number of answers and pull the correct one across the screen, rather than keying it in. This clearly limits the types of exercise that can be offered, but avoids a host of other difficulties presented by the Cyrillic alphabet.

The CD-Rom can be used in the classroom with a laptop and external speaker; it will also be valuable for students revising at home or, as often happens in adult education, for late beginners and those who have missed a class. These are valuable additions to a series that has already proved its worth.

Robin Buss

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