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Keywords:

  • content-based instruction;
  • curriculum development;
  • second language acquisition;
  • teaching methods;
  • writing proficiency
  • Russian;
  • relevant to all languages

Abstract: This research describes a method applied in a third-year Russian language course designed to push students' writing proficiency to the Intermediate/Advanced threshold and beyond and the findings associated therewith. The approach centered around argumentation and debate, a subject usually designed to improve students' command of logic and reasoning in their first language, but rarely found in second language curricula, much less with an emphasis on writing rather than speaking. Data supporting the researchers' claims reflect ACTFL pre- and post-written proficiency test ratings, biweekly rough draft scores, and participants' responses to a language background questionnaire. Findings suggest that an emphasis on argumentation and debate and content-based instruction proved statistically significant. In addition, participants in the treatment group benefited considerably from the inclusion of native speaker consultations.