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Delicious reading inspired by Russian cuisine

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Delicious reading inspired by Russian cuisine


Inspired by Food project webpage / screenshot

How to motivate students to learn Russian language, especially if this is an extra one? Ireland teachers invented an unusual way to put together Russian classical literature and cuisine. As a result, kids don't only read Gogol and Pushkin, but also learn old recipes described in those books. They try to cook at home dishes described by great Russian writers. One of the authors of the Inspired by Food project Alexandra Puliaevskaya shares the “delicious reading” recipe.

- How did the idea came about to learn about Russian language and cuisine?

- This project did not start from a clean sheet. We have been working with teachers from Ireland creating diverse projects in the field of Russian language studies during last 5 years. I've worked for 15 years at the State Irkutsk Linguistic University. I was invited to teach there Applied Linguistics. I've taught mathematical aspects of linguistics. I have always involved my students in creating actual projects because it is absolutely necessary to apply practical skills. It is very important for me that these projects would be useful not only for our scholars but also outside university.

Once I have organised an informational technologies in linguistics webinar for teachers. The webinar involved Russian language professionals from 10 countries. A great teacher from Ireland Liudmila Snigireva was among participants. She works at The National University of Ireland Galway, Dublin Institute of Education, and the Children's Educational Club Paper Crane in Galway.

I proposed her to organise engaging Russian language project since her students were learning Russian literature. It is always tricky to motivate them to read classical texts. Why not invent a specific purpose for learning a text and writing an essay to aim some kind of a big project in the future?..

An e-book in Russian with short stories written by our students was the first big project we have launched. It was called Russian Word in the Westernmost point of the Emerald Isle

Kids were really occupied by this activity, they have even made illustrations for it! My goal was to put everything together and invent some great interactive form of presentation accompanied with further references. 

Alexandra Puliaevskaya /

So, we have made four projects by now. Last year I had an idea to invent something new. I have proposed to put together food and art in one project: to learn Russian literature from the Russian cuisine point of view. All of us know that practically each classical piece contains a meal description. Liudmila Snigireva liked the idea, and she has challenged her students to put their attention on the food topic, comparing old recipes with contemporary ones. Students were browsing recipes, trying to understand if they are still actual in Russia.

–  So, your selection was based on a culinary element?

– The thing is that Liudmila doesn't push her students to read certain books. They have to choose literature based on their interest. Especially that participation in this project is an extracurricular activity. The main point was to get kids really engaged.  And we see that we've reach our goal. 

Another cool thing is that our kids didn't simply read and lookув through all of the book for receipts. They were choosing illustrations – food paintings by Russian artists. Therefore we've got a historical overview, and acquaintance with Russian literature and art.  So, it was a great aid for learning the language and culture. 

Web page of Inspired by Food project/screenshot

Which  literature kids were choosing mostly?

– Several students have studied Gogol's Dead Souls. Others were interested in fables by Krylov and Eugene Onegin by Pushkin. As a result those who participated in the project, passed Russian language exam with more ease. They were actively using things they have learned during after school classes. We know that today children are clip thinking with consequential information perception. At this point it is important to explain what for to read this book. 

And the main point – kids understand that they are working on one project together. Their collaboration is available online for everybody, including people learning Russian as a second language. 

So, from the last September our participants have been preparing this project, and by the end of the school year they have received the result. 

Did they try to cook something Russian at their homes?

– In essays they often compare how this meal is cooked at their homes. One boy wrote about pilaf cooked by his mom, while a girl from the project wrote about her favorite crepes recipe. 

Will this project continue next year? 

– Most likely yes. We've compileв so-called Russian classics culinary mini encyclopedia. Children wrote their essays and I was putting them together engaging additional materials, such as online libraries and video lectures about writers' lives. At first we used very few literary works, so for the next time we can extend our list and continue our project. At this point the Russian literature is very rich, including Russian cuisine recipes.


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