A Basic Course in Russian
by Richard Robin

Frequently asked questions about Golosa

  1. What's new in the Fourth Edition?
  2. What is the best schedule for Golosa?
  3. It seems to me that Golosa has few grammar exercises.
  4. Where can I get recording scripts and sample tests for Golosa?

  5. What's the story with Golosa audio recordings?
  6. What about Golosa video?
  7. How can teachers make students comfortable with the listening comprehension exercises?
  8. Can Golosa be used for self-study?
  9. Is Golosa available in Braille?

Q.   What's new in the Fourth Edition?

A.       There are a number of important changes.

Golosa, Fourth Edition, Book 1 is now available as of 2006 through Prentice Hall. (See ordering information). Book 2 is available as of 2007.

Q.   What is the best schedule for Golosa?

A.        To cover everything in both books of Golosa comfortably takes between 200 and 240 hours. You can figure on about 10 hours per unit. That comes down to four semesters at three to five hours a week or two semesters at eight hours or more a week. Of course, you can speed things up by cutting out such things as Obzornye uprazneniya, phonetics practice, and some of the listening and read items. Click on a sample breakdown of each unit.

Q.   It seems to me that Golosa has few grammar exercises.

A.       Golosa has tons of grammar exercises, both oral and written. Make sure that your desk or demonstration copy is accompanied by the Student Activities Book, where most of the exercises are located. If you are missing a Student Workbook for either Book 1 or Book 2, contact your local Prentice Hall sales representative or see the marketing information on the Golosa General Information Page.

Q.   Where can I get instructors' materials: tape scripts, video scripts, and sample tests for Golosa?

A.         The Golosa Instructor's Manuals, sample tests, and the videoscripts are available on-line to teachers of Russian who have adopted Golosa for use in their classrooms. (Because of Prentice Hall copyright agreements there are no exceptions to this rule!) For information on teachers can obtain a password, see the Instructor's Manual page.

Q.   What's the story with Golosa audio?

A.         Most Golosa units contain between 30-45 minutes of audio materials available on the website. The materials for the Third Edition are in mp3 format (compressed to about 40 kbps, mono). These include all of the razgovory, dialogi, listening comprehension exercises (davajte poslusaem, numbers practice, phonetics and intonation, and oral grammar drills).

Most computers are set up to play the Golosa audio automatically. See the Troubleshooter page if you have difficulties.

CDs. Schools adopting Golosa for their Russian language program can receive a set of master recordings on CDs with permission to duplicate them for use by enrolled students. Alternatively, students may order a complete set of CDs from Prentice Hall for themselves.

Audio release schedule:
Book 1
, Third Edition, World Wide Web and CDs: available since fall 2002.
Book 2, Third Edition: World Wide Web: August 2003, CDs: fall 2003. Note that audio for both Book 1 and Book 2 for the Second Edition is available in 2002-2003 in Real Player format on the Golosa audio page. However, Book 1, 2d Edition RealPlayer audio will be retired in summer 2003. Book 2, 2d Edition RealPlayer audio will follow to that Great Audioland in the Sky in summer 2004.

Q.   What about Golosa video?

A.         The Golosa website features a series of video lessons, keyed to each unit and accompanied by web-based exercises.

The Golosa video units are recorded for Windows Media Player. You can get Windows Media Player for free for both Macintosh and Windows machines. Most computers are set up to play the Golosa video automatically. See the Troubleshooter page if you have difficulties.

Q.   How can teachers make students comfortable with the listening comprehension exercises, both in the questions to the Razgovory and in the Davajte Poslusaem sections?

A.        The beginning of the O chem idet rech' section introduces students to the thematic and lexical concepts of the unit and lays the groundwork for the initial listening comprehension exercises (Razgovory) We strongly advise teachers to emphasize to their students the suggestions made in the textbook about listening comprehension, especially the following points:

(1) Always read the questions first. The questions tell you what to listen for.

(2) Don't try to understand everything in the conversation. Look only for the information requested.

A large part of the frustration of listening to connected text in a foreign language originates in the mistaken notion that one should be able to understand everything. Even in our native language we understand word for word only a little more than half of what we hear. We use context and a knowledge of what we assume is supposed to be said, as well as our own feeling of self-confidence, to fill in the blanks. Students can test this idea for themselves. For example, try to identify the exact greeting used at the beginning of a phone call to a business. Few could repeat exactly what the receptionist said, but it's likley that s/he probably gave the name of the place they were calling, perhaps in abbreviated form. Native listeners know this and don't "miss" the actual words as they whiz by.

It is important that students learn to transfer such native language listening strategies as using context and prediction to the foreign language. For that reason, they should follow the instructions printed in the book before they turn on the tape.

The same listening skills that students begin to acquire in the O chem idet rech' are further developed later on in each unit in the Davajte poslushaem section. Again, the same strategies apply. Students cannot be reminded too often that listening to Russian that appears to go “too fast” often seems “too hard” because listeners insist on getting every word. Students who do follow the instructions in the assignment to the letter will find that they will understand enough to complete the bulk of the assignment. In so doing they will have understood all of the important information — which is what listening is all about!

Q.   Can Golosa be used for self-study?

A.        Any foreign-language self-study is a chancy thing, because you are denying yourself the most important component of language instruction: interactive conversation with a speaker of the language. Probably more than other textbooks, Golosa makes up for that with the amount of accompanying sound: over 20 hours of recorded stuff covering both volumes -- with an emphasis on listening comprehension (one of the hardest things to do alone).

However, beyond that, everything depends on what kind of learner you are. As I often tell my students, language study is very different from other "academic" pursuits. Unlike, say, calculus or Chaucerian literature, it doesn't require that you be at the college level in intellectual development. Twelve-year-olds do just as well as twenty-year-olds using a book like Golosa. What is required is constant and consistent practice — whether alone or with a teacher. To take myself, I would have not had the self-discipline to do language self-study when I was in high school, college or even graduate school. In fact, I even tried to teach myself Russian in high school. I did well for the amount of time I put into it. But I just couldn't make myself put in the time required to learn meaninfully. I really needed the structure that a teacher could impose. That's because I was the type of learner who liked to "perform" for teachers. Once I was in a classroom, I did what I was told.

Now, many years later, I've been pretty good at teaching myself German. But that is because my motivation and learning style has changed.

Then there's the matter of language-learning ability. The more foreign languages you have studied (and gained some usable proficiency in), the better the indication is that you are ready to do Russian on your own.

This might sound like a roundabout answer (or even a non-answer) to a simple question. But there's no getting around the role foreign-language readiness and learner style and strategy. In short, it's doable if you can do it. (Big help, huh?) But it is not unrealistic to give it a go.

Q.   Is Golosa available in Braille?

A.        Only the first edition (1994) is available - through the National Braille Association in Rochester, NY. The cost for Books I and II + Workbook is approx. $1,200. The cost can be defrayed by a university's office for handicapped services.