|I have been teaching Ukrainian in the United States for 13 years and have always had to supplement existing textbooks with additional activities that would give students meaningful practice with the grammar, which they always find to be the most difficult aspect of Ukrainian. “Dobra forma” (Good Form) (https://dobraforma.ku.edu/) is an open-education web-based overview of basic Ukrainian grammar with contextualized activities that enable students to internalize correct grammatical forms as they focus on the communication of meaning. The practice activities are structured in such a way as to increase the communicative value of grammatical forms. This approach recognizes that students need to see, hear, and process a target structure in context multiple times before they can reliably produce it themselves. The modules begin with activities that encourage students to comprehend what is said or written while also focusing on how the target structure encodes that meaning; and only after these crucial, initial steps will the students proceed to activities in which they produce the target structures themselves. Such an approach enables students to gain an implicit knowledge of grammar that will increase their ability to interpret new structures. Fundamentals of Ukrainian grammar are introduced gradually, following Van Patten and Lee’s processing instruction principle of presenting learners with one thing at a time in order not to overwhelm them and to allow for better processing and retention of new material. |
“Dobra forma” consists of accessible and concise explanations in English and numerous computer-graded activities, and because it works on all mobile devices, students find it easy to use this resource on their own. As a result, I can spend much more time in class engaging students in communicative activities and less time discussing grammar. “Dobra forma” can be used for self-study and review, in flipped classrooms as well as in synchronous and asynchronous online courses. One of my goals in creating this OER was to make Ukrainian grammar accessible and fun, so I have incorporated many authentic photographs from Ukraine, which place language form into a rich cultural context. In addition, the web-based modules of “Dobra forma” utilize only about 1,000 most common vocabulary items that are often taught in beginner-level courses of Ukrainian, which makes it easy to incorporate this resource into any elementary or intermediate course in Ukrainian or into an independent self-study program.
“Dobra forma” is one of many foreign language OERs developed in partnership with KU's Open Language Resource Center, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. It was created with H5P and WordPress. I am grateful to Dr. Jonathan Perkins and his team at KU’s OLRC for the technical and editorial support of this project, as well as to Olha Korinets and Tetiana Kidruk, Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants at KU, and to Reagan Kanter, an advanced undergraduate student of Ukrainian, for invaluable help with various aspects of the project.