Do we teach the real language?
An analysis of patterns in textbooks of Russian as a foreign language
This article is about the type of language that is offered to learners in textbooks, using the example of Russian. Many modern textbooks of Russian as a foreign language aim at efficient development of oral communication skills. However, some expressions used in the textbooks are not typical for everyday language. We claim that textbooks’ content should be reassessed based on actual language use, following theoretical and methodological models of cognitive and corpus linguistics. We extracted language patterns from three textbooks, and compared them with alternative patterns that carry similar meaning by (1) calculating the frequency of occurrence of each pattern in a corpus of spoken language, and (2) using Russian native speakers’ intuitions about what is more common. The results demonstrated that for 39 to 53 percent of all the recurrent patterns in the textbooks better alternatives could be found. We further investigated the typical shortcomings of the extracted patterns.