Connection and Tension in First-Year Online Russian

A Glimpse into Learners’ Experiences


  • Wendy Whitehead Martelle



elementary Russian, online language learning, motivation, tensions, learners’ perspectives


This article explores the relationship between students’ motivation and the online language learning environment of a first-year elementary Russian class. This small-scale exploratory, qualitative study was conducted in an online synchronous setting. Its primary goal is to address the following questions: 1. What are some of the affordances and challenges of learning beginning Russian online? 2. How are students motivated during and as a result of the online language learning process? The participants in this study are students who attended beginning L2 Russian classes over the course of an academic year. Data points for this study include the students’ language-learning journals and artifacts as well as conversations about their language learning experiences. Students shared their motivations and future goals for studying Russian, and their overall experiences of learning Russian in a synchronous online setting. Students stated which activities they found most effective and motivating for their learning and reported conflicting feelings about learning Russian in an online setting: while the online setting is perceived as being more “convenient,” there are more distractions and fewer opportunities for social interaction