Russian Language and Culture: Post-beginners


Russian is best learnt when both written and oral language skills are taught together within the context of the Russian way of life. Russian culture is, therefore, an essential part of this eight-week intermediate course designed to reinforce novice-level proficiency and to develop intermediate-level skills necessary for deepening communication in Russian.

Target audience:
This course is for those with basic knowledge of Russia and the Russian language who would like to develop intermediate-level language skills and:

  • are interested in Russia and the language and culture
  • have a Russian-speaking partner or adopted children from Russia
  • are planning to visit Russia or its neighbouring states where Russian is spoken
  • are interested in international science, maths, history, national security, foreign service, film and cultural studies, and the arts.

Learning objectives:
By the end of the course, participants will have:

  • enhanced their reading and writing skills in Russian
  • gained a further understanding of Russian grammar
  • learnt more vocabulary and the linguistic and cultural competence to handle situations such as:
    • meeting people, talking about hobbies and professions, visiting people or inviting someone to their home
    • making enquiries, requesting things, asking the time, visiting places (shops, restaurants, airports, stations)
    • talking about future plans and holidays
  • gained further knowledge of the Russian culture and way of life and about New Zealand–Russia connections.

Course outline:
Session 1:

  • Enhancing reading, writing and conversational skills; nouns, pronouns, adjectives, gender, number, nominative case; simple questions and statements in Russian  
  • Introducing yourself (name, age, hobbies)  
  • Mysterious Russian soul (video and discussion)

Session 2:

  • Verbs, present tense; imperatives; accusative nouns, pronouns
  • Talking about your study, profession or job; Russia’s system of classes
  • Peculiarities of the Russian state; Russian history – milestones: Russian Ark (excerpts from the film with commentary)

Session 3:

  • Nouns in the genitive – the case of nouns after numbers
  • At the shop, exchange office or bank
  • Russia – window to Europe and the Iron Curtain; prominent Russians; inventions and discoveries of Russian origin; knowledge and understanding of “history” – understanding cognitive dissonance: Admiral (excerpts from the film with commentary)

Session 4:

  • Ordinal numbers; reflexive verbs
  • Asking the time; concepts of time; days of the week; at the airport and the station (, am and pm)
  • Urban versus rural relations: city life and the Russian province and the Russian village (video and discussion)

Session 5:

  • Prepositional singular of nouns
  • Counties and nationalities; documents; visa application forms
  • Russian mentality through folklore and national songs, fairy tales, sayings, proverbs; Russian superstitions (video and discussion)

Session 6:

  • Prepositional singular of adjectives and pronouns; comparatives; superlatives
  • Visiting someone at home; inviting someone to your house; accepting or declining hospitality
  • What Russians eat and drink; Russian cuisine and traditional dishes (video and discussion)

Session 7:

  • Imperfective and perfective verbs; future tense
  • Talk about future plans; patterns and rhythm of life in the course of a year; the months of the year; school and university holidays; the business year
  • Russian literature, music and art – the annual pattern of shows and entertainment; reading Pushkin in the original: Evgeniy Onegin (excerpts from the film with commentary)

Session 8:
Summary and discussion; presentation of certificates of achievement

A short break is held halfway through each session, and coffee/tea is provided.


Class limit:
This course is limited to a maximum of 16 participants, so please enrol early.


Olga Suvorova has a PhD in cultural anthropology from Moscow State University. She has extensive experience in working with international leaders in both the private and public sectors in New Zealand and Russia on cultural intelligence questions. Olga is married to a New Zealander and works in both New Zealand and Moscow.


‘Olga is lovely and friendly and includes various visits which add greatly to the quality of the course. She coped well with teaching students of vastly different abilities’– Russian Language and Culture: Post-beginners participant, 2015.

‘The course was a good balance of formal language instruction, culture and history and conversational language for a group with widely varying aptitudes and prior experience’ – Russian Language and Culture: Post-beginners participant, 2015.


Related links:
Russia and the Baltic States: In the footsteps of Peter the Great 2017 study tour
An Introduction to Russian Language and Culture

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email:

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.