SMARTool: The Strategic Mastery of Russian Tool

Principal investigator: Laura A. Janda

Project title: SMARTool: The Strategic Mastery of Russian Tool

Summary of the project:

The SMARTool is a free web resource for L2 learners of Russian that implements findings of a learning simulation experiment and corpus research to optimize the acquisition of Russian vocabulary and morphology. Corpus data (Janda & Tyers 2018) reveals that for any given Russian lexeme, only a few (usually 1-3) wordforms account for nearly all attestations, while remaining wordforms are rare or unattested. Our computational learning experiment shows that learning of Russian inflection is best when training is restricted to high frequency wordforms. The SMARTool builds on these findings for a basic vocabulary of 3000 nouns, adjectives, and verbs culled from major textbooks and other sources to represent levels A1, A2, B1, and B2 (CEFR scale). We have identified both a) the three most frequent wordforms for each lexeme (reducing the target number of wordforms to learn from 150,000 to 9,000) and b) the most typical grammatical constructions and collocations that motivate each wordform. We have also created c) corpus-based example sentences instantiating typical use.

Audio for all sentences (in both female and male voices) and English translations are available at the click of a button. The SMARTool has filters that facilitate searching by: a) CEFR Level, b) Topic (such as время/time, еда/food, здоровье/health etc.), c) Analysis (such as Ins.Sing, facilitating grammatical exercises), and d) Dictionary form.

Janda, Laura A. & Francis M. Tyers. 2018. Less is More: Why All Paradigms are Defective, and Why that is a Good Thing. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 14(2), 33pp. doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2018-0031.

Other team members on this project:

  • Radovan Bast (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): Design and Programming
  • Laura A. Janda (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): Background research, Concept, Design, Vocabulary selection, Editing of content
  • Tore Nesset (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): Concept, Design, Vocabulary selection
  • Svetlana Sokolova (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): Concept, Design, Vocabulary selection
  • James McDonald (UiT The Arctic University of Norway): Editing of content
  • Mikhail Kopotev (University of Helsinki): Design, Vocabulary selection
  • Francis M. Tyers (Indiana University): Background research, Concept, Design, Vocabulary selection
  • Ekaterina Rakhilina (Higher School of Economics in Moscow): Concept
  • Olga Lyashevskaya (Higher School of Economics in Moscow): Concept, Design, Vocabulary selection
  • Valentina Zhukova (Higher School of Economics in Moscow): Content
  • Evgeniia Sudarikova (Higher School of Economics in Moscow): Content
  • Lisa Kibisova (Higher School of Economics in Moscow): Content

Current status of the SMARTool:

  • 100% functional with over 75% of content completed
  • Content created by collective of staff and students from UiT, HSE, and other institutions
  • All content will be complete by end of 2019
  • Debugging and permanent hosting projected in 2020
  • Already used in instruction at both UiT and HSE
  • Disseminated by staff and students to hundreds of colleagues at international scholarly gatherings at Princeton University, Institute of Linguistic Research in St. Petersburg, Harvard University, Washington DC, University of Texas, Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic), UiT, University of Granada (Spain), International Cognitive Linguistics Conference in Nishinomiya (Japan), Nordiska Slavistmöte in Joensuu (Finland), Petrozavodsk State University, HSE
  • Final dissemination conference in planning for late 2020
  • Inspired “copy-cat” projects: Spanish and Finnish interface for Russian SMARTool, plus SMARTools for Czech, Polish, Spanish, North Saami, and Finnish (these projects in planning stages)

Link to the project result: https://smartool.github.io/smartool/

Project duration: 2018 – 2020, may continue longer

Funding: funded by a grant (CPRU-2017/10027) from the Direktoratet for internasjonalisering og kvalitetsutvikling av høyere utdanning (Diku: https://diku.no/)

Key publications:

Janda, Laura A., Olga Lyashevskaya, Tore Nesset, Ekaterina Rakhilina, Francis M. Tyers. 2018. “Chapter 6. A Constructicon for Russian: Filling in the Gaps”. In Benjamin Lyngfelt, Lars Borin, Kyoko Ohara, & Tiago Timponi Torrent (Eds.), Constructicography: Constructicon development across languages [Constructional Approaches to Language 22], 165-181. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co. https://doi.org/10.1075/cal.22.06jan

Janda, Laura A., Francis M. Tyers. 2018. “Less is More: Why All Paradigms are Defective, and Why that is a Good Thing”. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 14(2), 33pp. doi.org/10.1515/cllt-2018-0031 

Janda, Laura A. “Businessmen and Ballerinas Take Different Forms: A Strategic Resource for Acquiring Russian Vocabulary and Morphology”. 12pp. Forthcoming in Russian Language Journal.

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