Associative Dictionary as Educational Material (On The Example of the Entry Apartment)


The article describes the possibilities of using the entries of associative dictionaries as a teaching material in Russian as a foreign language. The data which is presented in the article can also be useful when working with other languages. The article allows to get acquainted with the associative norm of the Russian language and its purposeful consolidation in the minds of students in order to form images of the language that reflect the national Russian culture. Linguistic and non-linguistic consciousness is formed as a result of mastering everyday culture in the process of socialization and the process of acquiring national culture. However, a student of Russian as a foreign language is limited in this, since their learning process takes place mainly at the lexical level, so the selection of authentic material for classes is of critical importance for the successful integration of the student into the culture of the Russian ethnic group.

Keywords: Associative dictionary, association experiment, linguistic consciousness, nonlinguistic consciousness


An associative dictionary differs in many ways from explanatory dictionaries, because it does not represent the norm of language use, but describes and accumulates patterns that have developed under the influence of individual and collective experience. An entry in the associative dictionary is created thanks to the materials obtained in the associative experiment (Karaulov, 2002).

Due to the prescriptive nature of such dictionary entries, they can serve many research purposes for specialists in various fields. In this article, we will focus on the linguistic side of a dictionary entry from an associative dictionary and present a set of techniques and methods, as well as tasks that can be compiled on its basis to enrich the methodology of teaching Russian as a foreign language.

Problem Statement

For successful communication with native speakers, a foreign language learner needs to acquire knowledge about the language used and the world. According to Tarasov (1996) such knowledge is stored in the form of images of the consciousness of a native speaker of language and culture and is externalized by linguistic means.

Language teaching is effective in teaching culture. The process of assimilation of the cultural worldview of a certain society is called inculturation. Due to this, similar traits develop among members of the culture in terms of cognitive and emotional aspects. The product of inculturation is considered to be an educated person, i.e. an individual who has mastered a value and normative system, traditions, generally accepted ways of interpreting phenomena, and informal status roles (Herskovitz, 1972).

Research Questions

The images stored in the mind of the individual cannot be studied directly, so the language is the most accessible material for solving this problem. One of the effective methods for obtaining representative information about the content of meanings stored in the mind of the carrier is a mass associative experiment. This experiment is aimed at working with non-linguistic consciousness, which can be observed using words and phrases. The standard instruction for a subject in a free associative experiment is as follows: after I call (show) you the key words of the stimulus, speak (write) as quickly as possible any words that come to your mind related to the key. You should say whatever comes to mind without being critical, even if it seems to you that it is meaningless, irrelevant, inconvenient or unpleasant.

The last explanation in the instructions is aimed at removing the control of consciousness in order to get reactions that are closer to the core of the associative-verbal network.

Purpose of the Study

The environment is of particular difficulty on the path to mastering a new language. The process is limited: basically, all learning is carried out through communication. This affects the fact that the images formed in the mind of the learner of a foreign language remain incomplete compared to the mind of the native speaker. This problem, in our opinion, can be partially solved by introducing tasks based on dictionary entries from associative dictionaries. An article from the associative dictionary represents the associative-verbal network (hereinafter ABC) of the carrier. This network contains elements of national culture, including mass and elite, which characterize the personality. However, ABC contains knowledge about the world in verbal form. Karaulov conditionally divides this knowledge into three parts. The first includes extralinguistic information, expressed in words and phrases that name and describe the phenomena of the surrounding world. ABC is constantly changing, so among this information you can find not only fundamental knowledge related to national characteristics of the history of the ethnic group, but also temporary expressions provoked by the current state of affairs and other changes in life. For example, the most frequent reaction to an apartment stimulus reflects a typical national-cultural situation. The three-room reaction refers to general knowledge about the arrangement of a dwelling in a Russian city. The communal reaction correlates with the cultural and historical layer of knowledge. The current state of affairs is expressed by such reactions as hacked, robbed, missing, received. Part of phraseological units, sayings, which is a reaction, also refers to general cultural knowledge. The castle reaction goes back to the saying My home is my castle. The reaction Zoikin's to Mikhail Bulgakov's book.

The next part is called dialogue and stores evaluation information about the elements of reality contained in the first part. For example, the following reactions to an apartment stimulus can be classified as emotionally colored vocabulary: smart, beautiful, filthy.

The third part includes the most voluminous information about the very device of the language. The author argues that this part is subconscious for most speakers who are not professional linguists and represents a vast array of material for scientific research. For example, paradigmatic connections between stimuli and response: apartment - friend; not mine; protected; with a balcony.

Thus, studying the reactions collected in the dictionary entry of the associative dictionary and processed by linguists, the student can perceive the meanings that exist in the mind of the native speaker.

An entry in an associative dictionary looks like this: Consider the article apartment from the associative dictionary EVRAS: house 131; big 48; my 33; housing 23; room 12; comfort 10; cozy 8; small, removable 7; own, family, hut 6; huge, empty 5; 2-room apartment, in the center, two-room apartment, key, room, empty, three-room apartment 4; 3-room apartment, dacha, door, expensive, live, communal, new, room, rent, warm, good, clean 3; 32, 4-room apartment, in Moscow, city, money, sofa, dwelling, mortgage, rooms, common, dormitory, entrance, shelter, bright, own, cleaning, Khrushchev, four-room apartment 2; 100 square meters, 136, 2, 4 walls, 5, 57, 58, 9, N, N 27, N 60, N 62, N 7, apartment, rent, white, wealth, in a house, in a mortgage, in a new building, in the center of Moscow, large, thief, high, garage, where the money is, on fire, city, for nothing, debt, house / fortress, House 2, home, expensive , friend, have, wife, life, living space, living space, protection, acquaintances, Zoykina, interior, sq.m., square, brick, China, keys, comfortable, corridor, box, beautiful, buy, bought, buy at 27 years old, kitchen, home is better, small, may, furniture, multi-room, on the 5th floor, under renovation, on the contrary, it is impossible to buy, I hate, no, not good, housewarming, security, monastery, hostel, fire, one-room, windows , window, rest, open, taken away, fee, area, basement, girlfriends, purchase, garbage can, privatized, shelter, sold, registration, spacious, spacious, work, repair, parents, dear, relatives, burned down, for rent, let, Siberia, rent, property, forty, neighbors, neighbors, sleep, walls, style, table, chair, court, shooting, TV, treshka,

toilet, cleaned, cleaned, corner, comfortable, comfortable, cozy, rubbish, it would be nice!, I want, someone else's, someone's, cell 1; 538+180+2+129

At the end of the article, after all the reactions, quantitative data are presented: FLAT .....................538+180+2+129. Quantitative indicators mean the following: a total of 538 responses were received, including 180 different words or phrases; 2 respondents did not give a response; 129 reactions occurred only once.

Research Methods

The article of the associative dictionary has an invaluable potential for compiling assignments for the purpose of teaching students, because it is essentially a list of words on a topic. Thus, this material can be used from the initial level of the student and further - with complication in the direction of studying the cultural and social characteristics of a native speaker of the Russian language.

The purpose of such tasks is to get acquainted with the associative norm of the Russian language and its purposeful consolidation in the minds of students in order to form images of the language that reflect the national Russian culture.

The choice of a dictionary entry depends on the level of the student. In accordance with the thesaurus approach developed by Val.A. and Vl.A. Lukovyi, the socialization of an individual proceeds according to thesaurus constructions. Thesaurus is some systematized part of world culture that an individual is able to master. According to this approach, the individual is aware of reality in a certain sequence, which is determined by the thesaurus. First of all, the immediate environment is mastered (the individual himself, the family, the surrounding things, the house, the visible space) (Lukov & Lukov, 2008).

Considering that by learning a foreign language, an individual socializes a new linguistic personality in a limited linguistic environment, it is worth basing the choice of educational material in accordance with the above information. This is the reason for the choice of the associative article apartment in this work.


What tasks can be offered to learners of the Russian language? It is necessary to familiarize students with the associative article, and as an introductory exercise, it is necessary to familiarize students with the meanings of the reactions of the vocabulary article, illustrating them with a minimal context, for example, a room - he went into the apartment and went to his room. If necessary, the responses can be translated into the student's native language. Then you can offer to explain the appearance of a particular reaction to the stimulus; discuss the importance of the stimulus word in the culture of the Russian ethnos, for example: “What is the most frequent associate of the stimulus apartment? Why do you think?”

The following is a listing of approximate tasks for working with the components of the associative field apartment with examples.

1. The associative field of the stimulus apartment can be divided into the following categories: characteristics; grade; furniture; device; actions; Match the reactions with the suggested categories.

2. Compare the associative field of the stimulus apartment with the associative field of the same stimulus in your native language if you have an associative dictionary: determine the reactions that match and do not match the associative field of the stimulus in the associative dictionary of your native language.

3. Suggest examples with matching and non-matching reactions.

4.Try to interpret any matches or mismatches you encounter.

5. Find matches of phrases that came from another language that match yours.

Tasks like 2-5 allow you to more thoroughly study the associative norm of the language being studied, and comparison with the associative field of the native language provides a real dialogue of meanings, interethnic and sociocultural. The coincidence of associates in the associative dictionaries of different languages may indicate a common or similar historical development of ethnic groups, the use of the same precedent texts, for example, religious or world classics. Just as discrepancies illustrate the difference in historical paths, the influence of foreign languages and cultures and the precedent national elements of culture.

The following tasks can be implemented using associative dictionaries in the native language. It will also be effective to work only with the dictionary entry of the target language.

6. Find words and phrases that are often found in oral folk art, folk songs, proverbs and sayings in your native language (for example,

7. What associates could be given under the influence of literature or cinema? Why do you think they are entrenched in the mind of the wearer?

Next, it is necessary to include tasks for working out paradigmatic and syntagmatic connections. For example, a. write down all nouns, adjectives, etc. from the dictionary. Are all of them presented in their original form? b. make phrases/sentences using only the words from the article, for example, a friend has a cozy two-room apartment in the center of Moscow.

The final stage in the formation of associative links of the words of the Russian language should be tasks of a creative orientation for the development of oral and written speech, for example, describing pictures, compiling dialogues based on a dictionary; role-playing games (The use of the Dictionary in Russian language classes, 2022).


In general, the system of assignments based on the use of an associative dictionary is formed on traditional exercises for the formation and expansion of the student's vocabulary, with the difference that the material proposed for assignments reflects the real content of the linguistic consciousness of native speakers of the Russian language, which makes the result of the lessons relevant.

As mentioned above, linguistic and non-linguistic consciousness is formed as a result of mastering everyday culture in the process of socialization. However, a student of Russian as a foreign language is limited in this, since his learning takes place mainly at the language level, so the selection of authentic material for classes is of critical importance for the successful integration of the student into the culture of the Russian ethnic group.


  • Herskovitz, M. J. (1972). Cultural relativism and cultural values. In Frances Herskovitz (Ed.), Cultural relativism: perspectives in cultural pluralism. Random House.

  • Karaulov, Yu. N. (2002). Russian associative dictionary as a new linguistic source and tool for the analysis of language ability. In Russian associative dictionary (pp. 750-782). Pomovsky and partners.

  • Lukov, Val. A., & Lukov, Vl. (2008). A. Thesaurus approach: starting points. Moscow, Jurnal “Znanie. Ponimanie. Umenie.’’

  • Tarasov, E. F. (1996). Intercultural communication – new ontology analysis of language awareness. In N. V. Ufimtseva (Ed.), Ethno cultural specificity of language consciousness (pp. 7–22). IYA RAN.

  • The use of the Dictionary in Russian language classes (2022). Teaching aid. Retrieved on May 3, 2022 from

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12 October 2022

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Cite this article as:

Kalashnikova, O. K., & Zhamaletdinova, E. K. (2022). Associative Dictionary as Educational Material (On The Example of the Entry Apartment). In V. I. Karasik, & E. V. Ponomarenko (Eds.), Topical Issues of Linguistics and Teaching Methods in Business and Professional Communication - TILTM 2022, vol 4. European Proceedings of Educational Sciences (pp. 111-116). European Publisher.