Here it is: The Russian grammar channel, on Youtube. It’s great. No, I don’t know the author, Dr Curtis Forde (although it feels like it, after watching so many videos) and nobody has asked me to review it. But as both a former languages teacher AND a prolific Youtuber (in my job), I feel somewhat qualified to give it the thumbs up. Here’s why:
The channel advertises itself as “what you need to know about Russian grammar – one step at a time” and – like the old UK TV advert – it does exactly what it says on the tin. Don’t come here if you want flashy animations, songs, gimmicks (although there is a rather convoluted story about Jacques, the tsar and some shrimps..). DO come here if you want to have a complex point of grammar explained to you in simple sentences in a few minute, with no thrills. Well, except the thrill of the penny dropping at the end, which to me is thrill enough.
If you look at the whole set of videos, you see that the title page is a very simple background with the subject of the video in large black letters, making it easy to see what it is about. I will quite often scroll through them, pick one that looks interesting and watch it. When you start to watch a video you will notice that it is nothing but a black background, with white text and the guy speaking over it. But it works!!! Most videos are around the three minute mark, the perfect length for our modern day concentration spans. And it is quite an achievement to be able to say what you need in such a short time. Believe me; I know. I love how, at the end, he has a ‘summing up’ section which recaps the previous couple of minutes. Of course, this is simply good pedagogy, what all good teachers would do – but it doesn’t follow that all videos will do this.
I also like the occasional series of videos, where a complicated topic is split up into shorter parts making them easier to digest. You watch the first one and feel you are part way there, even though you’re not done yet. The Motion verbs series is one example.
The fact that they are short means they perfectly suit today’s nano-learning, sound-bytes, just in time teaching -whatever you want to call that aspect of modern life where we slot in focused learning in five minutes here and there, from our mobiles, on the train… That’s not to say they don’t merit revisiting, I have certainly watched some of the videos more than once until they stuck in my brain, but again, that is a benefit of their short length, that it is no inconvenience to do so.
(See what I did there? )
- The Russian grammar channel is an excellent example of the art of précis: clear, simple diction, highlighting what is necessary and without extraneous entertainment
- The Russian grammar channel is an excellent example of how to make good video tutorials – one single topic, short in length, articulate narration, no unnecessary animations.
- The Russian grammar channel is in no way connected to me at all – I just felt it needed due praise from someone who appreciates what goes into it.