University of Wisconsin - Madison

Curriculum

PSI’s academic program has both a Russian language component and a literature component.  The Russian language coursework takes place in a 6-week intensive program:  students meet for four hours a day in the classroom and have a 1.5-2 hour study hall/tutorial in the evening to review the day’s material or ask questions of tutors.  The Russian textbook for the program is Golosa (Book 1); 8 chapters in the book (see the Language Instruction section below for more details) are normally covered.  In addition to the language classes, courses/workshops on Russian culture are held at least once a week.  These courses cover such topics as making bliny (Russian crepes), Russian superstitions, etiquette when visiting a Russian home, Russian folk music, etc.  Lastly, once a week students attend a phonetics class that focuses on pronunciation and intonation to further build student cultural and linguistic fluency.  The Pushkin Summer Institute’s goal is to advance students from the Novice level to the Intermediate Low level on the ACTFL scale.

 

The literature component of the academic program is centered on the life and works of Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, Russia’s national poet.  Once a week students attend a lecture by Prof. David Bethea on an assigned reading (see the Literary Studies section below for details); students are expected to actively participate in the discussion during the lecture.  All readings are distributed the weekend prior to the lecture; at this time students also receive an essay prompt based on the assigned reading.  Students write a 1-3 page essay (in English) that is turned in on the day of the lecture; the Friday after the lecture, Prof. Bethea holds individual consultations with the students to discuss their writing in terms of content, style, grammar, etc. 

 

In addition to individual consultations with Prof. Bethea, the Pushkin Summer Institute normally coordinates two writing workshops with the UW-Madison Writing Center.  These workshops focus on, respectively, writing literary analysis and writing college admissions essays.  Through individual consultations and workshops, the Pushkin Summer Institute endeavors to not only advance students’ fluency in Russian, but also sharpen the type of writing skills they will need to succeed in college.

 

Students do not receive UW-Madison credit for participation in the program, but they do usually receive some form of credit at their local high school.  It is the expectation of the PSI that a significant portion of participating students will apply, and be admitted, to UW-Madison and enter the Russian Flagship program on campus.  These same students should also be on track to complete their major and college coursework expeditiously.

 

Language Instruction

For the language track of the program students are provided a detailed syllabus in Russian.  Each week the students cover 1-2 chapters from the textbook Golosa (Book 1), including such topics as:  general greetings and introductions; naming common objects, clothing, and basic colors; talking about languages and ethnic/national backgrounds; talking about where and what people study; introducing oneself.  In terms of grammar, students gain facility in:  gender, past and present tense verbs, question words, possessive modifiers, and the Nominative, Accusative and Prepositional cases.  Over the course of the program students also study such topics as: how to talk about daily activities and schedules, how to talk about homes and rooms, telling time, making invitations, talking about family members (names, ages, and professions), making purchases, and making meal plans.  The grammar work focuses on, among other things, the future tense, time, days of the week, expressing ownership, basic motion verbs, and the Dative and Genitive cases.

 

Literary Studies

The syllabus for the literature program centers around 1-2 works by Pushkin each week.  The first week students are assigned a general reading on Russian literature, a reading on Pushkin’s biography, and the short poems “The Poet” and “The Prophet.”  In Weeks 2-3 students read 2 stories each week from The Tales of Belkin.  For the remainder of the program students read the unfinished novel The Blackamoor of Peter the Great, the short story “The Queen of Spades,” and the dramatic piece “The Stone Guest.”  Students are assigned weekly essays which are due on Wednesdays and discussed individually with Prof. Bethea on Fridays.  In all cases, students are encouraged to think about Pushkin not as an idol to be worshipped, but as a highly creative individual that used his talents to respond to a variety of challenges in his life.

 

Assessing Student Progress

In addition to the weekly class assessments, the Russian Flagship Center often conducts assessments and interviews to gauge student progress.  Students participate in unofficial OPIs and take a Listening and Reading exam at both the entry and exit stage of the program.  Students also participate in a set of 3 interviews (entry, mid-way, and exit) with members of the Language Institute about learning strategies and outcomes.

 

PSI-Abroad

Curriculum information forthcoming