The rapid growth in the number of Russian heritage students in our high schools and colleges represents an underserved and underutilized national language resource. By "heritage speaker" we mean those who grew up with Russian in North America without a native Russian's full educational or cultural background. Because of their different proficiency profiles, heritage speakers have special learning needs which are often not met in either Russian-language textbooks for English speakers or textbooks for Russian children in Russia. The textbook Russian for Russians fills that gap. Its approach is based on both theoretical research into bilingualism in general and on theoretical and pedagogical research into Russian-émigré language attrition.
Even though intended for heritage speakers, Russian for Russians is a useful teaching tool for mixed classrooms, allowing for teaching both heritage students who are gaining literacy and advanced non-heritage students in gaining proficiency. While the heritage students spend time learning the spelling rules and low-level writing conventions (spelling and punctuation), advanced non-heritage students practice essay writing and work on their vocabulary expansion. The grammar outlines can be used as a review for advanced non-heritage students while being a formal introduction for their heritage peers. The readings and conversational and cultural topics, based on the contrast between Russian and North American (or other) cultures, will not only satisfy the needs of both groups but will provoke and stimulate discussion. The Russian For Russians' website hosts audio accompaniment along with selected exercises that lend themselves to automatic correction and feedback.
Winner, 2004 AATSEEL Award for Best Contribution to Language Pedagogy (American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages)