Online physical education and sport service applied for teaching Russian as foreign language

Associate Professor, PhD O.V. Kharitonova1
O.O. Boldina1
L.I. Uspenskaya1
Associate Professor, PhD Y.N. Buzina1
1Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Moscow

 Keywords: sports, Russian as foreign language, country studies, lexicon, lexical minimum, grammar, Olympiad, Paralympics, FIFA World Cup, economy.


Background. Russian as foreign language courses for entrants to the national universities are traditionally offered in the pre-university training stage followed by the 3-4-year academic studies, with the pre-university training considered an independent course with its own missions and goals. It is common knowledge that the first academic year is the most complicated period for any foreign student all the more that it is free of an academic physical education and sport service known to be highly beneficial for progress. On the other hand, virtually every foreign student is active in the off-class sports, with students from Vietnam, China, India, Syria and Africa being particularly fond of football and volleyball. They readily compete in the international academic teams and demonstrate high progress in the intercultural communication and cooperation that both improve the teamwork and motivate students for progress in the Russian language studies.

Objective of the study was to test benefits of the modern online physical education and sport services for the academic Russian as foreign language courses.

Study findings and discussion. Russian language teachers well know that the academic physical education and sport service is efficiently complemented and facilitated by a variety of the personality-sensitive study topics including My Family, My Hobby, My Friend, Health and Healthy Lifestyles, My University, My Country etc. [10]. Most of the foreign students are going in for sports at home and, hence, are highly interested in the international sport events, particularly the Olympic Games and World Championships that are currently easily accessible due to progress of the internet technologies, news services and social networks. Presently the Russian network offers a wide variety of audio- and video services and textual analytics to facilitate the academic and self-reliant studies of Russian language and culture by foreigners.

It should be mentioned that neither foreign language including Russian can be mastered unless the studies are supported by the growing knowledge of the national culture and history. That is the reason why every academic Russian as foreign language course is designed to give, among other things, basic knowledge of the national physical education and sport history, accomplishments of the past and present national sport celebrities including their feats in the Great Patriotic War, and the national contribution to the global Olympic movement [4]. Study materials for the course may be mined at A few websites, including, for example, official website of the Russian Business Consulting Agency, provide important education materials on commercial aspects of the sport competitions and national sport industry. Such websites have been found rather helpful for many purposes including the academic trainings in economic disciplines [2].

Furthermore, official websites of the leading national sport clubs including Spartak, Dinamo, Zenith FC offer the sport-specific textual analyses and audio- and video-reports of the club history and accomplishments, and this history may be of high interest for the foreign students since they see the signage of the sport clubs in their university communities, at sport events and on the streets. Thus the Zenith FC (Saint Petersburg) website gives extensive information about the players and coaching teams, match replays, commentaries and analyses, references to the player’s and supporters’ blogs and an overview of the Zenith FC Museum. The website gives an insight to the commercial aspects of the club operations and even offers a discount system, ticket booking service, internet shopping and contracts of the club retail shops trading in the club signage, outfits and attributes. The Spartak (Moscow) FC website offers Business information to the visitors with the schedules of events and competitions, plus the key information for the commercial bidders willing to distribute the club signage and attributes, contract advertizing sites or football playgrounds. Thus these and other similar websites give a sound basis for discussion of commercial aspects of modern sports on a rather practical, focused and appealing basis.  

We believe that the national history related issues shall be in special priority in the modern academic physical education and sport curriculum to counter negative aspects of the ongoing globalization processes. Studies of the Russian national history within the Russian as foreign language curriculum give the students basic knowledge of the Russian national sports including gorodki, lapta, coach-and-three races etc., with the studies largely facilitated by the relevant websites like, official site of the Russian Gorodki Sport Federation;, website of the Non-commercial Russian Lapta Federation and many other websites of commercial and non-commercial sport entities. Public interest in some half-forgotten ethnic Russian sports may be galvanized by the youth sports and tourist business development projects as reported by the above and other special websites.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup hosted by Russia was of special attraction for the foreign students at the Russian as foreign language courses, with the academic studies reported to receive a high impetus from the formal website of the 2018 FIFA World Cup with its highly topical information about the event, host cities and stadiums, talisman of the event, FIFA World Cup history etc. Of special interest and help for the Russian as foreign language studies was the background information about the host cities of Volgograd, Sochi, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk and Nizhny Novgorod as demonstrated by the notable academic progress in the country studies. We found that foreign entrants to the Russian universities normally come to the country with a stereotyped expectation to find here only two large cities – Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and the new knowledge of the Russian urban geography, communities and the government system is highly beneficial for them.

The online sport analytics, match replays and other audio- and video materials may be also helpful for the grammar and lexical studies. The academic grammar-and-lexical topic ‘Russian movement related verbs with/ without prefixes’ known to be highly difficult for foreign students was found largely facilitated by the relevant sport websites. In addition, studies of the Russian cases, numerical terms and their spelling and pronunciation were found largely facilitated by the online information about the team standings, match results, individual and team accomplishments, plus the commercial data reported by the relevant sport organizations.

The sport-specific commentaries and analyses with the audio- and video-materials provide ample opportunities for studies of the Russian nouns, adjectives, verbs, verbal adjectives, participles and adverbial participles etc. The wide range of the world- and phrase-construction materials facilitates the academic progress in the Russian as foreign language studies [6, 9]. To give the cases in point, we would offer the following Russian terms and derivatives: волейбол – волейболист – волейбольный; баскетбол – баскетболист – баскетбольный;  хоккей – хоккеист – хоккейный; тренер – тренерский (состав) – тренерская (комната для тренеров) – тренировочный (комплекс) – тренировать (ся) – тренируя (сь), тренирующий;  защищать – защита – защитник – защищающий – защищавший – защищая; нападать – нападение – нападающий (adverbial noun or adjective identifying the player’s game role) – нападавший – нападая etc.; первый разряд – перворазрядный,  автомобильные гонки – автогонки – автогоночный, автомобильный спорт – автоспорт, автомобильный кросс – автокросс (voleybol – voleybolist – voleybolnyiy; basketbol – basketbolist – basketbolny; khokkey – khokkeist – khokkeyny; trener – trenerskiy (sostav) – trenerskaya (komnata dlya trenerov) – trenirovochny (kompleks) – trenirovat (sya) – treniruya (s), treniruyushchiy; zashchishchat – zashchita – zashchitnik – zashchishchayushchiy – zashchishchavshiy – zashchishchaya; napadat – napadenie – napadayushchiy (adverbial noun or adjective identifying the player’s game role) – napadavshiy – napadaya etc.; pervy razryad – pervorazryadny, avtomobilnye gonki – avtogonki – avtogonochny, avtomobilny sport – avtosport, avtomobilny kross – avtokross) etc.

The Russian as foreign language studies of the online sport analytics, match replays and other audio- and video materials are further facilitated by the titles and acronyms of the relevant sport organizations and their Russian equivalents, for example: ICF (International Chess Federation): Международная шахматная федерация – ФИДЕ; IOC (International Olympic Committee): Международный олимпийский комитет – МОК; International Wrestling Sport Federation: Международная федерация объединенных стилей борьбы – ФИЛА; International Football Federation, Fédération Internationale de Football Association: Международная федерация футбола – ФИФА; Union of European Football Associations (UEFA): Союз европейских футбольных ассоциаций – УЕФА etc.    

Training tasks like ‘Read the news on your favorite club website’ or ‘Keep track of the sport news on Youtube.сom and’ are intended to train, develop and maintain the speaking and perception fluency in the foreign trainees. It should be mentioned that modern sports keep generating new tokens and terms. National lexicography offers a wide range of the sport-specific and more general sport glossaries [1, 5, 7, 11, 12, 13] including the inclusive Sport Dictionary at

New Russian terms in the physical education and sport sector are being fixed and reported in the leading national sport editions [8], e.g. spelling of the Russian equivalents for skeleton, ski stream, curling, snowblade, cycle trial, kiting, rafting, rope-jumping etc. need to be discussed and standardized. Recently the national sport community broadly discussed the term and spelling of the Russian equivalents for Paralympics/ Paralympian until Federal Law #253 of November 9, 2009 ‘On Changes and Amendments to Some Legal Provisions of the Russian Federation’ instated the right spelling of the term without letter ‘o’ as required by the international documentation unification logics, with due consideration for the English, French and Spanish terms Paralympics, Jeux Paralympiques and Juegos Paralímpicos, respectively. One more version of the spelling with Russian ‘o’ is offered by the Russian Dictionary of RAS by V.V. Lopatin et al. (Мoscow, 2005) as more compliant with the morphological rules of Russian language. So serious attitude to this and other terms (including, e.g. ‘Deaflympics’) from the relevant governmental agencies and sport communities is explainable by the terminology standardization needs to facilitate their formal use. This issue is discussed in more detail on (FAQ option – see Question #259938 Paralympics). Such commentaries may be of special interest for students on non-linguistic specialties for they show them the modern processes going on in the national languages in the context of the globalization process.

Conclusion. Modern online resources may be highly beneficial for the Russian courses for foreigners since they offer extensive lexicons of high interest for the future specialists. The best websites equip students with the basic lexical resource to efficiently master and excel Russian for success of their academic studies.



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The study analyzes benefits of the modern online physical education and sport service for the Russian language courses for foreign students. A high interest in this educational service is due to the great attraction of modern sports and their role in the global and national cultures and to the didactic benefits of the modern online education systems for many purposes including the Russian courses for foreign students (RCF). Russian history and culture is inseparable from the national sport history and accomplishments. The fast progress of modern sports on the national turf has had its implications for the Russian sport-specific lexicons. The study overviews the sport lexicon mastering practices and special grammar practices under the physical education and sports curriculum; and analyzes the available online resources to facilitate the intercultural communication in Russian.