Conceptualizing Prefixed Russian Verbs of Motion in Virtual Reality
Kristin Bidoshi, Associate Professor of Russian Union College
Natalya Brill, Visual Arts and Russian Studies, Union College Class of 2018
In the Russian language there are fundamental grammatical structures that are not easy to grasp. Mastering verbs of motion is one of the most frustrating parts of learning Russian. Since Russian has six grammatical cases and three tenses, for many students noun declension and verb conjugation and understanding the proper sentence structure can be extremely difficult. Generally, the first two years of study are devoted to the complex noun structure which involves the declension of nouns into the six cases. Learning the verbs of motion is not something that can be picked up immediately, especially if one is not studying in the country. There are several Russian verbs that mean “to go” but each one has a different contextual meaning and on top of that, each prefix conveys a various way of “going”. Conceptualizing the prefixes can get very confusing while learning Russian solely in a classroom setting. As a visual learner, I have always found it more beneficial, to my understanding a concept, to be taught through interactive teaching methods.
Starting as a summer 2016 research project, Professor Bidoshi and I have been working to create a virtual reality (VR) program to train, visualize, and understand the Russian prefixed verbs of motion. The VR environment, Прогулка по Нью-Йорку [Брайтону], A Stroll Through New York (Brighton), is set in New York’s authentic Russian neighborhood. The student will be given tasks that can only be completed by following specific directions (using the prefixed verbs of motion) and navigating through the streets of Brighton Beach. With this program, students are placed in a setting where they can practice the prefixed verbs of motion interactively.