When handing out essay topics, I try to take into account multiple factors, the most important one being how my students will communicate in the new language. I think of them discussing themselves, their family, their country, their favorite dishes, books, and travels. After all, when people learn a foreign language, in this case the Russian language, the underlying reason for their efforts is communication. In the process of writing essays, the students develop their vocabulary, learn grammatically correct sentence structure; by memorizing structure and pronunciation, fairly soon they begin to converse at an acceptable for them level, starting with simple practice dialogues and then moving on to talking to native speakers.
I learn much of my students’ biographical information from my personal contact with them at the end of our classes or during meetings and additional trips to museums, galleries, etc.
During the first lesson, I usually ask why my students chose to study the Russian language, what prompted them to start, what were their motives.
For example, Kemar Bennett is going to Russia to participate in the international ballroom dancing competitions; that is why he began to study the Russian language, especially since most of his coaches came from the former Soviet Union.
This young man is the first prize winner of all the competitions held by the local colleges.
Once, when we had finished our lessons, and when he yet again won the first place in one of the competitions, he showed me the most recent recording of his performance, which was going to send his mother in Barbados.
It was then that I asked how his passion for ballroom dancing began. The answer was so unexpected that I decided to write about it. Initially, there was no passion, the student told me, and it was a form of punishment!
Yes, exactly, it was punishment. When a 14-year-old in Barbados gets in trouble at school, he is sent to learn ballroom dancing! Kemar simply fell in love with this "punishment" and has been successfully performing for seven years.
He is majoring in theater and dance in college, and recently I saw a very successful end of the fall semester production that he choreographed. Congratulations, Kemar! I wish you many creative victories, and a brilliant future as a choreographer and a dancer.