Verbalization Of Urban Sensory In Russian Language Classes As A Foreign Language


The paper analyzes the possibilities of using modern research in the field of linguistics and cultural linguistics in the practice of teaching Russian as a foreign language. The results of the experiment on the inclusion of Russian as a foreign language in the practical course, as well as a number of disciplines of the philological cycle intended for the educational audience of foreign students, a lexical-thematic group related to the perception and assessment of visual, auditory, gustatory, spatial-temporal characteristics and signs are comprehended. It is proposed to comprehend the possibility of verbalizing sensoric lexical images on the example of the topic "City". The work of the teacher and student with the materials of the topic "City" is considered in connection with the creation of conditions in the classroom for the development of the socio-cultural and linguocultural competence of the student. It is asserted that the tasks for the formation of productive speech in connection with the development of the topic "City" are aimed at overcoming the culture shock, as well as self-identification of the student in the "alien" national and urban space. It is proposed to actively use the national-regional component in the practice of working with foreigners, including authentic literary texts representing the socio-cultural context of the city: fragments of the texts of the famous Russian philosopher Vasily Vasilyevich Rozanov and the famous artist Ilya Efimovich Repin, who recreated sensoric and metaphorical images of the Volga and the city of Nizhny Novgorod.

Keywords: Linguocultural competence, regional component, socio-cultural competence, sensorics, urban space, verbalization


The didactics of Russian as a foreign language is in interaction with modern scientific trends in the field of philological knowledge. The productivity of the linguoculturological approach, which has convincingly proved its viability, requires in modern practice of teaching Russian as a foreign language to refer to the actual aspects of research in the field of linguistics. Without the inclusion in the educational process of problems related to the comprehension of values (spiritual, social, cultural), their presence in the communicative field, it is impossible to teach a foreigner Russian (Bogdanova, 2017). The emergence of a secondary linguistic personality is facilitated by the understanding of the national cultural code of the country of the target language (Maslova, 2016), the presence in the classroom in Russian as a foreign language of communicative practices aimed at mastering it.

It should be noted that reflection in the field of identifying and understanding the features of the national cultural code is a prerequisite for the training of both a philologist-Russianist, and a future teacher of Russian as a foreign language, and foreign students of non-philological specialties.

Traditional methods of working with the audience, based on acquaintance with linguistic culture (verbal images of a national holiday, national character, mastering paremia, appeal to authentic artistic and audiovisual texts, etc.) are complemented by new practices correlated with the results of modern research in the field of linguistics and linguaculturology. In particular, the methodological base in the field of teaching Russian as a foreign language is currently being formed by research in the field of conceptual analysis - the linguacultural component of the concept. The perceptual and metaphorical, "figurative component of the linguacultural concept", its cultural significance is studied (Vorkachev, 2016, pp. 19-20). 

In recent years, studies of the emotional sphere of the language have become relevant, since feelings and emotions in the language affect the grammatical and syntactic structures of "speech actions"; provide an opportunity for constructive dialogue; have national specific characteristics (Bogdanova, 2018). The role of perception becomes decisive in the field of mastering reality (Gorbunova, 2017). Perceptual binary oppositions "as a universal means of cognizing reality, underlying the description of any picture of the world" based on the construction of a cognitive-axiological model and the metaphorical method of Lakoff and Johnson are analyzed (Grigorieva, 2019, р. 22).

In linguistics, research in the field of sensory linguistics also attracts attention (Kharchenko, 2012; Nagornaya, 2017). The study of the text from the point of view of sensory poetics is also actualized in literary science (Lyapina, 2014).

Research data make it possible to make intercultural dialogue in Russian as a foreign language classes more productive: address the linguistic potential hidden in the emotional picture of the learner's world.  The emotional picture of the world of a foreigner, along with assessments of the internal state, includes the perception and assessment of visual, auditory, gustatory, spatio-temporal characteristics and signs. The mastering of a new space by a foreigner - geographic, sociocultural, everyday, educational - complements this picture with new cognitive connections. The ability to verbalize the image of a foreign culture (expression of attitude, acceptance or rejection, detailing sensing) will influence the formation of a comfortable linguocultural environment around the student, will help to form the sociocultural competence of a foreign student. 

Verbalization of the picture of the surrounding space, including its sensory characteristics, forms communicative competence, which is more successfully mastered in an integrated approach. 

A foreign student, staying to study in a foreign country, most often finds himself face to face with a new urban space: here, for example, European and Asian traditions of perception of city sensing collide; European and Russian habits and requirements for taste or visual impressions. 

Shapes, colors, sounds, smells (including the taste sensations when meeting new food) can often cause cultural discomfort. Overcoming this state should be facilitated by the activity of a Russian as a foreign language teacher on the verbalization of urban space as mentally significant, culturally marked, whose verbal image is fixed in the national consciousness.

The assimilation and use of a lexico-thematic group with sensory semantics in the productive speech of foreign students will not only contribute to the formation of the student's productive speech, but will also allow to actualize the intercultural dialogue.

Problem Statement

This research is complex in nature, integrates knowledge from the fields of psychology, linguistics, sociology, cultural studies. The search for new technologies, methods and techniques for teaching Russian as a foreign language in the framework of linguoculturological, anthropocentric and communicative approaches is one of the tasks of the modern methods of teaching Russian as a foreign language (Fateeva, 2018; Gynin, 2013; Grigor'eva et al., 2017; Latukhina & Marinina, 2020). Most researchers believe that teaching a foreign language is associated with the formation and improvement of a secondary linguistic personality, possessing a number of competencies, among which the priority is communicative, which in turn is divided into socio-cultural and linguocultural (Dzyuba et al., 2020; Dzhuraeva 2019; Kostritsa & Petrova, 2011). The ability to adequately express their emotions and feelings in certain communicative situations is a criterion for the formation of these competencies. This is what determines the appeal to the development of the emotional-sensory sphere of a foreigner. The object of sensory perception will be the urban space - the environment in which a foreign student who comes to study in Russia finds himself, the city in which he will be for a sufficiently long time, with which the student will have to self-identify in order to overcome the "culture shock" arising from inconsistency of their own ideas about the country of the target language and reality, ignorance of national characteristics, inept expression of their emotions and feelings (Argunova & Londadzhim, 2008; Ochirova & Tsyrenova, 2016).

Research Questions

It seems important to outline the basic principles of organizing training sessions with a foreign cultural linguistic community. It is necessary to emphasize the productivity of referring not to abstract material on the topic "City", but to the selection of working texts, including authentic ones, and tasks related to the urban space that forms the socio-cultural context of the student's life for a short or long term. The subject content of the discipline "Russian language", as well as the discipline "Russian as a foreign language", is determined, according to the fair remarks of modern researchers, with the help of ideological definitions, including those which are based on the national-regional component (Deykina & Levushkina, 2012, р. 25). It is this approach that ensures the understanding and reproduction of the features of the cultural field, projected in a specific national-cultural urban environment.

So, the subject of work in our practice was fragments of authentic texts from the book of the remarkable Russian artist Ilya Efimovich Repin (1844-1930) "Far-Close", in which the author talks about a visit to the city of Nizhny Novgorod, as well as from an essay by the Russian philosopher Vasily Vasilyevich Rozanov (1856-1919) "Russian Nile", a former student of the Nizhny Novgorod provincial male gymnasium.

Mastering these fragments of text, which are difficult in terms of semantic content and metaphorization of the verbal image (Volga - "Russian Nile"; "the city has turned its head", "choke with delight"), allows:

1) to work with the sensorics of the space / landscape of the city (opposition is high-low; lexical and morphological composition: far-distant; height-high, boundless, wide - width);

2) to master the metaphorical competence;

3) to use the national-regional component.

A set of tasks, including exercises of various levels and content, ends with a final task on the formation of productive speech, appealing to the student's personal experience. The essay genre allows you to correlate the text on historical issues with the present. The content of the essay can reflect the sensory experience gained during acquaintance with the audiovisual material (virtual city tour), can be based on a comparison of the sensory space of the native city and Nizhny Novgorod.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this kind of study should be:

1) in socio-cultural terms - the process of self-identification of a student, creating his own image of the city (Fedotova, 2020), the formation of the so-called "urban identity" (Gornova, 2018);

2) in the linculturological regard - the formation of a secondary linguistic personality of a foreigner.

The process of self-identification of a student, his mastery of the urban environment can traditionally begin with an acquaintance with the history, cultural and literary toposes of the city (this happens most often). However, the everyday environment - visiting the market, shop, university cafe - enters the life of a student much earlier. In urban centers, students need to get used to the rhythm of their new life. The assimilation of smells, sounds, color characteristics is one of the spheres of manifestation of the cultural priorities of a nation and people. Sometimes it is the smell that is the form of representation of the spiritual culture of a particular country. It is known that for a European the idea of the East is often formed on the basis of impressions received at the oriental bazaar, and smells (sweet, exotic, alluring) become a sign of the oriental culture. Visiting the market in cities of Western Europe is also one of the educational activities. The choice of a lexical designation - market or bazaar - in Russian linguoculture is correlated with urban identity, national-regional flavor. The question addressed to the student about the main visual, sound or olfactory images of the city includes it into a subjectively significant communicative situation. Every city has its own smell. Each linguoculture forms its own sensory image.

Communicative situations that require active involvement arise not only in the classroom, but also in everyday life. These natural conditions for the implementation of speech activity require the student to learn to clothe his own states in words, to comprehend and talk about his feelings, which is one of the conditions for the successful adaptation of a foreign student.

Verbalization of images of urban space using a lexico-thematic group of words with the meanings of space, color, taste, smell is included in educational tasks. Here is an example from the practice of classes with students of the Summer School "Bridge over the Volga" in 2017. This text fragment is quoted with the permission of its author, a student at the Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland):

«When they began to tell us about the history of the city, I suddenly realized that its culture was created from a mixture of historical periods, cultural trends and artistic styles. For some reason this mixture now forms some of my favorite cities in Europe. … However, for me, the most important factor that influenced my positive impression is the atmosphere of the city. It is formed by musicians on Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, syrniki with condensed milk at every step and, by the way, by the people of Nizhny Novgorod».

The sensory characteristics in this essay represent the urban space, bring out the most vivid impressions: street musicians - music / sounds of the city; curd cakes with condensed milk (a dessert made from cottage cheese, flour and eggs in the form of a small flat cake, which is fried or baked; served with sour cream, condensed milk or lingonberry jam) - taste sensations. Verbalization of the dominant, from the point of view of the author of the essay, taste sensation, forms a national-regional component in the image of a city, a kind of genius loci of this cultural landscape.

For a teacher working in a classroom of foreign students, it is important to be able to find and use not only educational texts, but also authentic texts of fiction that would have examples of sensory characteristics of urban space.

Research Methods

This article is the result of an experimental study conducted with the aim of studying the influence of mastering the sensing of urban space on the formation of the communicative (sociocultural and linguocultural) competence of foreigners. The study involved foreign bachelor students studying in the direction of training “Pedagogical education. Russian as a foreign language Kozma Minin Nizhny Novgorod State Pedagogical University (Minin University), participants of the summer school from Poland "Bridge over the Volga", as well as university professors, teachers of Russian as a foreign language, foreign students from the CIS countries as part of their studies on online open education courses "In Search of the National Russian Code: educational routes ". Observation has become the leading method of empirical research for groups who have mastered the discipline "Sensorics of Urban Space" in person. During the experiment, the development of communicative competence was monitored (the ability to enter into a dialogue, express their emotions, find the necessary information in the text and interpret it, express their own attitude to what they saw or heard). For the group studying the "Sensorics of Urban Space" remotely, the form of the report was a test with open and closed questions, demonstrating the quality of the course assimilation. Thus, to collect the data, a qualitative approach was used, which made it possible to collect deeper ideas about the possibilities of developing the communicative competence of foreigners by comprehending the urban space through the prism of “alien” (sensorics of urban space in artistic and journalistic texts) and “own” vision of spatial images of Nizhny Novgorod.


To realize the priority goal - the use of the lexico-thematic group "Sensorics" in productive types of speech activity (writing and speaking) when describing impressions of the urban space of Nizhny Novgorod - we have developed a certain strategy: from getting to know the text (reading and listening) about Nizhny Novgorod to its understanding, interpretation and creation of his own statements, both orally and in writing. In the classes devoted to the development of urban space sensing, conditions are created for the formation of key competencies: linguocultural, sociocultural, communicative, linguistic, metaphorical. So, starting an acquaintance with the topic, at the stage of motivation, it is possible to turn to the poem by Don-Aminado "Cities and Years", which vividly presents the sensory of urban space associated with smell: “Old London smells like rum, / Tin, smoke and fog”, “dazzling Naples, ... / It smells like mules and mucus, / Rotten fish and rope”, “The city of Hamburg smells like food, / Wood, barrels, and fat, / And oppressive, ubiquitous, Famous good cheese "," And Sevilla smells like leather, ... "," Eternal smells of Paris / Only two. They are all the same: / The smell of roasted chestnuts / And the smell of violets is fresh. "

Working with this text implies the development of dialogic and monologic speaking skills: students discuss their impressions of the cities, try to justify the choice of the poet and talk about their impressions of the city of Nizhny Novgorod, where they are. The result is a chain of associations related to the perception of urban space.

The next stage is the development of synonymous grammatical constructions of agreement and verbal and nominal control: "the smell (what?) Of bread", "the smell (what?) Of bread", "smells (what?) Of bread"; "Taste (what?) Of apple", "taste (what?) Apple", "color (what?) Peach", "color (what?) Peach".

It is necessary to pay attention to the change in meaning in a number of transformation of management into agreement, the acquisition of metaphorical meaning in formed adjectives, especially with the designation of color. In the classroom, authentic texts of different styles and genres are used, including the memoirs of Repin and Shalyapin, the lyrics of the songs "Sormovskaya Lyric" (composer Boris Mokrousov, poet Yevgeny Dolmatovsky), "Nizhny Novgorod" (S. and E. Kristovskiy), fragments of literary texts (M. Gorky "Childhood"), texts of guidebooks, etc. Working with texts is carried out according to the traditional method for Russian as a foreign language: pre-text tasks, pre-text and post-text. At the same time, all classes assume the functionality of educational-thematic material, communication-training exercises and communicative practice, as close as possible to the real conditions of communication. Each spatial image that students encounter in the text is subject to reflection - their own emotional and sensory assessment using the lexico-thematic group "Sensory" (exercises - dialogues, monologues, essays).

Thus, there is a verbalization of the urban space sensorics in the minds of foreign students not only through receptive types of speech activity (reading and listening), but also through productive ones (writing and speaking), which contributes to the development of all types of communicative competence of students


Turning to the practice of verbalizing the sensing of urban space in the classroom in Russian as a foreign language demonstrates the productivity of this technique in the classroom. Mastering sensory verbal images allows you to implement tasks at the level of mastering lexical, grammatical material, and work with syntactic constructions.

Visualization and the subsequent verbalization of spatial and color characteristics, the identification of the specifics of sound images contributes to the enrichment of the emotional picture of the world of the foreigner. Mastering the olfactory characteristics allows you to create conditions for the student's reflection on the national picture of the world, in particular, the national and regional features of its manifestation, to make reflection an important component of the tasks for the formation of a productive speech situation. Thus, the new learning and living space reveals possible ways to overcome discomfort, in some cases - "culture shock".

The reliance on the regional component in the choice of literary texts implements the idea of an integrated approach to the formation of linguistic-cultural, sociocultural and metaphorical competencies of the student.

It is also important that the linculturological principle underlying the mastery of foreign languages, in particular Russian as a foreign language, with this approach to learning is filled with new semantic projections associated with the development of the concepts of the national picture of the world.

It seems that this principle of work can be used in a classroom with different experience and level of proficiency in Russian as a foreign language: from the preparatory department to master's programs for the preparation of foreigners in the philological profile.


Article is a part of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation project "Organization of open education courses in Russian or for the study of Russian as a foreign language" of the departmental target program "Scientific and methodological, methodological and personnel support for teaching the Russian language and languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation" of the subprogramme "Improvement of education system management" of the state program of the Russian Federation "Development of education".


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Dzyuba, E., Zakharova, V., & Latukhina, A. (2021). Verbalization Of Urban Sensory In Russian Language Classes As A Foreign Language. In V. M. Shaklein (Ed.), The Russian Language in Modern Scientific and Educational Environment, vol 115. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 443-451). European Publisher.