My Russian Learner

By Amish Bahtia

Read this story in Russian — Beautifully translated by Vicki Doronina

Where our Russian Learner spans over

My name is Amish, I am an IT engineer. I always feel that I need to say that because people tends to confuse me with the Arabic Institute tutors.

Basically, I am responsible for maintaining and developing the IT structure and particularly the LMS at the Arabic Institute, but I know about our students a lot more than what an IT would usually know.

This is my first story. The Russian Learner.

It’s my story because what I noticed has made this learner a segment of its own. The Russian Learner at The Arabic Institute is the learner who speaks Russian and adjacent languages, grouped as East Slavic Languages.

It’s my story because what I noticed has made this learner a segment of its own.

Before Ariana, our published case study, we never thought of separating Russian-speaking learners from the Western Learner. We only had a handful students anyway and, in our eyes, they look westerners to the bone!

Moreover, Russians would ALWAYS register for a one-to-one class, ALWAYS once a week (or they change it later to be once a week) and would MOSTLY start learning the dialect first then moving SLOWLY to the formal Arabic. Typical Western Learner’s characteristics.

Ariana was no different. Things went smoothly afterwards.

Twenty hours later, the first progress report comes out, very predictable.

But I had this gut feeling that there is something wrong with this report. It is not exactly of a Western.

“Maybe she is the exception to the rule!” Susan, her tutor back then, exclaim. She adds: “Let’s see how things go with the second report.”

Frankly, The other skills weren’t as encouraging either. Okay, let’s wait and see.

Another 20 hours pass by and the second report comes out. Same thing.

Either that the student is not Western or there is something wrong with the report itself.

Either that the student is not Western or there is something wrong with the report itself.
Ariana’s first report

It has never been the case that a Western Learner would fail in the reading skill twice in a row.


If we were to put the language skill in which a Western Learner would typically grasp faster in a logical sequence they will be:

FIRST IS READING, then writing, then grammar then the rest would follow…

But Ariana’s reports tell a different story. She scores plain zero in Reading. Twice. What a shock.

If you were curious how we evaluate the reading skill, it is no rocket science! As a learner at our institute, you will have a number of assignments that must be submitted over the LMS. Among which reading and speaking assignments, they require you to record your voice while reading or interacting with an avatar/audio. Easy!

If you were curious how we evaluate the reading skill, it is no rocket science!

She almost scores full marks in second-level skills like grammar but the plain zero in reading resists.

Even after going through the first book all over again, updating the LMS code, so it eliminates the continuance connection distortion that she could face while recording her voice, the plain zero in reading is still there.

We have learned from ourselves and students that if we keep post pointing or delaying the submission of one particular assignment while submitting the rest, it is either that this assignment is too difficult to perform or very very very dull to waste any time on.

We have learned from ourselves and students that if we keep post pointing a homework while submitting everything else, it is either the homework is too difficult to perform or very very very dull to waste time on.

And based on my experience in reading students’ reports, I would easily eliminate the second possibility. This is not the case with such an enthusiastic learner as she.


I was about leaving the office, it was already past 11:00 PM when my eyes caught a report lays over my desktop that I thought it was Ariana’s since her SID (Student Identification Number) at first glance seems identical to the one on the report.

Furthermore, the numbers and graphs where almost of the one I saw earlier. Only one issue, the reading skills score were slightly different, a bit higher, so I thought it is another mistake of which I used to get when the assistants get excited about the weekend. I grab my marker to highlight the only number that goes wrong.

But then, something was telling me to double check before I ruin the final paper copy. You know when you have this feeling… “Just in case” I convince myself.

Thank goodness I didn't ruin the copy. It wasn't hers. “Whose then?” I got curious. Although that students’ reports are all around me, I never actually bother to conduct thorough comparisons between them, but the one needs an experience like this to develop an analytical habit.

For my surprise, the report belonged to an Eastern Learner (Someone like me) who just finished his first 20 hours.

Were we wrong all the way by releasing the Western Learner’s reading assignments? Were we wrong with the reading assignments ALONE?

Were we wrong all the way by releasing the Western Learner’s reading assignments? Were we wrong with the reading assignments ALONE?

“Susan Hi, Check this out.” Attached the two reports… Then pressed send.


The next Sunday, Susan was on the phone on the other side discussing my findings, navigating and comparing other students’ reports and studying how we could mix and mingle the LMS content of the Eastern and Western so we could improve her reading progress.

And so the Western Learner-Russian segment was born, at least in the LMS, with:

  • Less of long reading assignments.
  • Less free speaking assignments (replaced with guided speaking assignment).
  • But more of kinetic assignments.
  • And a whole more of multiple choice assignments.

It is not what the Western Learner nor Eastern Learner would typically get. You might ask why we keep calling them Western then? It is their learning environment which is an exact match of the Western Learner’s, as I mentioned above. They like to learn in isolation, they demand a slow pace, and, typically they pick the NO-homework track once they know about it. Again, it is no rocket science!

You might ask why we keep calling them Western then? It is their learning environment which is an exact match of the Western Learner’s

As a result, her third report was simply… beautiful. The scores were almost perfect, the charts were so… harmonised.

I want to close with the fact that we have not forwarded this segment to R&D to learn more about them yet, but it is just a matter of time. However, it feels great discovering and sharing a new thing about you… And us.

Our current programmes, tracks and packages have been redesigned to match these unique learners needs, and so it will remain.


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