Teaching Russian at UQ (University of Queensland)

School of Languages and Cultures

Recognition. Most Effective Tutor. Olesya Kharina

What aspects of this teacher’s approach best helped your learning?

1st year students. 2016. Semester 1:

  • “Awesome tutor. The activities she gave us supplemented the course material well. I liked the old-school videos she played and the voice recordings as well. I liked that some of the activities we did with her encouraged us to engage within groups so we could talk to each other in Russian. I like that she would keep us updated on extracurricular activities that were happening around the school. I always had fun in Olesya’s class”.
  • “Each class was fun, and acted well as a ‘summary’ of what we learn – put into practice. The environment was always comfortable, and each student was given fair opportunity to learn”.
  • “Olesya is very approachable and interactive. Her teaching is also very supportive which is comforting when it can be mind boggling to comprehend aspects of our learning”.
  • “This teacher was very interactive and always prepared a lot of activities for the class”.

2nd year students. 2016. Semester 1:

  • “Olesya has great classroom energy and deep knowledge of the language. She uses the board a lot which is very, very helpful to pick up spelling and for understanding”.
  • “She is very approachable and how she spoke was very good for my learning. Usually I could understand what she said in Russian and if I couldn’t she would explain without using too much English”.
  • “Very strong Russian knowledge and she also integrated things from Russian society which was great!”

1st year students. 2016. Semester 2:

  • “Olesya is such a great tutor. She is always offering extra curricular cultural activities which were great enrichment for our learning”.
  • “Olesya was really friendly and it was easy to ask her questions if you were confused. She planned extra-curricular activities which let me get more excited about what I was learning. She explains things well, and was overall a really good teacher”.

2nd year students. 2016. Semester 2:

  • “Very motivated and knowledgeable native speaker; approachable and enthusiastic”.

3rd year students. 2016. Semester 2:

  • “Her passion for Russian culture comes through clearly”.
  • “This tutor has been willing to adapt to the group dynamics (we have known each other for a few years, and so we know how well each of us performs), despite the fact that she is a relative newcomer to the Russian program. She knows how to challenge us, and what to expect from us. Her willingness to schedule additional classes and topic-related extra-curricular activities has also benefited us well”.

1st year students. 2017. Semester 1:

  • “Olesya was always very patient regardless of errors and hesitations;
  • Was never too strict;
  • Helped all the students a lot with pronunciation and accents;
  • Was always able to clarify anything that we still didn’t understand”.
  • “Variety of materials used in practicals;
  • Asked all students questions to ensure student input;
  • Encouraged practice, explained concepts well”.
  • “Excellent teaching style and always well prepared, confident and deliberate but not stubborn. I think a lot of language teachers could learn from her”.
  • “Explained everything really well. Encouraged everyone to participate”.
  • “I would like to convey my greatest appreciation for this semester’s team of lecturers. I think they’re absolutely amazing. They are all very nice and approachable and that helped me gain the necessary confidence to keep participating in class. I love them and I don’t want to make this sound weird but, I feel like they’re family to me. They all gave so much effort and so much initiative to get everyone to develop a deeper interest in Russian culture and language. These are people are really interested in their students and I can honestly feel that. It’s easy to get accustomed to having lecturers talk in front of a class of more than 300 students but when you see them up close each week, and they’re all nice and they’re passionate about what they’re teaching, it inspires the students, and that is the kind of quality education that I expect at UQ. To whoever’s reading this, they deserve a medal or a raise. They are fantastic people and I think it’s very useful having lecturers from various backgrounds teach Russian, because it helps students get familiar with slight variations in pronunciations and accents, which is what one would typically encounter in the real world. In regards to Olesya, she’s really persistent on getting that right Russian pronunciation. She listens very carefully and makes us repeat words when somebody makes a mistake. I think it’s good because whoever makes a mistake doesn’t get shamed nor gets ignored, instead the whole class repeats until the right pronunciation is achieved. The videos she brings to class are also very fun and interesting to watch, it takes our learning beyond the classroom and into more realistic conversational scenarios. Her dialogues are also easy to understand and she actively encourages everyone to participate. In fact, she also encouraged us to take part in other Russian activities in the city such as Victory Day Parade to further improve our skills. Lastly, it’s very admirable of her to hold monthly Russian films screenings at uni as an extra treat for those who want to learn more about Russia’s war-time history”.
  • “Just all the handouts given to me”.
  • “Made sure that concepts from lectures were properly understood”.
  • “Very organised with tutorial sheets/information”.
  • “Olesya’s material was a good recap of the material learned in lectures. The audio played during the class was a good addition for listening skills”.
  • “The way she reiterated the concepts we had already gone over and showed us how they worked in with the new things that we were learning”.
  • “Very clear and engaging. Looking forward to next semester. I hope there will be more viewing of Russian movies. And I hope I can make it to them!”
  • “She was very encouraging”.
  • “She’s absolutely remarkable”.

2nd year students. 2017. Semester 1:

  • “Olesya is kind and bubbly, and this semester particularly she has seemed more approachable, making the lessons more engaging. When Olesya arrives in the fourth hour of our lesson, its a difficult task to engage students who are tired and brain-fried. She does an excellent job”.
  • “Olesya is a fantastic tutor and I have enjoyed every minute learning from her. She is so friendly and encouraging. She has been so helpful this semester and has always been available to answer questions and help with work outside of class. I appreciate her willingness to help and cater to our needs. She has done her very best to help us learn and provide any extra resources we have asked for. She is also very active in the Russian community in Brisbane and has always come to us with events and activities that we can get involved with. Thank you Olesya!”
  • “Olesya is passionate, kind and super willing to help with anything. She creates extra events outside of class, and genuinely cares how people are progressing”.
  • “I think that Olesya goes above and beyond for her students and I wouldn’t change a thing. Keep up the good work!”

1st year students. 2017. Semester 2:

  • “Variety and number of video/audio/text components used (some even custom made for the practicals); encouraged student contribution during practicals”.
  • “She is always well prepared. She brings a lot of material and extra study material which are a good supplement to class topics. These I usually use to catch up on some vocal work. She also suggests good and easy to understand Russian videos that help with listening skills”.
  • “Worked really hard on making sure pronounciation was correct, gave great access to video resources in class and at home, gave useful worksheets, gave unfamiliar vocabulary in a list with English translations, texts to accompany video or audio was very helpful”.

2nd year students. 2017. Semester 2:

  • “Classes are never boring, and the direction of the class tends to be led by the students needs. Olesya is very approachable, and always has the students’ best interests in mind”.
  • “More focus on spontaneous conversations”.
  • “Olesya is always extraordinarily kind and helpful in her tutorials. She offers a lot of new vocabulary every week, consolidates our understanding of topics discussed in the lecture, and provides us with many opportunities to practice speaking and using our new
    vocabulary. She has never been remotely condescending to anyone”.
  • “Olesya is the best!!! She is genuinely concerned with you doing well. She told the class about a Russian festival that was happening, and it’s because of her I got to go (I am incredibly grateful). She has a good sense of humour, is understanding, and generally a great teacher”.
  • “Olesya spoke with us almost exclusively in Russian, which sometimes made it difficult to understand initially what was going on, but over time I learnt a lot through her immersive ‘surround you with the language’ approach”.
  • “She is patient and is happy to answer questions. She is approachable and passionate about the Russian language”.
  • “Her calm and easygoing attitude, and when she stimulates language practice and conversation”.

3rd year students. 2017. Semester 2:

  • “Her personal manner as a teacher helped to put students at ease in learning”.
  • “She was very well spoken and enunciated very clearly which helped us learn properly. She also employed a wide range of structures when speaking which engaged us. She was organised and kept on topic, always knowing where on the page we were”.