Lexicon Bridge Publishers launched its Web site on January 1, 1997.
It is a US company that operates at:
202 Bridge Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
We produce and publish electronic resources for learners of Russian language and culture. Since 1997, we have shipped thousands of audio CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, and—in the old days—videotapes to individuals, high schools, colleges, universities, and government agencies all over the world. These days we also offer the use of most of our titles online in our Cloud pages (especially useful for owners of tablets, smartphones, and disc-less netbooks).
Our titles are equally usable by an individual learner and a class of students. For syllabi and course descriptions that use most of our multimedia please visit the Russian Language Program at Cornell University and look under Courses > Courses in the Fall and Courses in the Spring.
The principal authors of our publications are university teachers with over two hundred years (combined) of experience teaching Russian. We are also honored to have professional actors, filmmakers, and graphics artists participate in the creation of our titles.
Slawomir Grunberg is an Emmy Award winning documentary producer, director, cameraman, and editor born in Lublin, Poland. He is a graduate of the Polish Film School in Lodz, where he studied cinematography and directing. He emigrated from Poland to the US in 1981, and has since directed and produced over 40 television documentaries. In addition to the national Emmy Award for his film School Prayer: A Community At War, he has won a regional Emmy Award, four Grand Prix awards at various international film festivals, several Best Documentary awards, and numerous other honors and prizes.
Richard L. Leed was professor emeritus of linguistics at Cornell University. He is the author of several Russian language textbooks and dictionaries and the founder of the highly regarded Russian Language Program at Cornell. He taught courses on Russian language, history of Russian, structure of Russian, Russian phonetics, Russian dialectology, comparative Slavic linguistics, Old Russian, Old Church Slavic, and Russian for teachers. He is lovingly remembered by his collagues as, among other things, the author of Leed's Law: All languages are more or less like Russian.
Lauren G. Leighton is professor emeritus in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of several books on Russian literature. In 2005, the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL) honored him with the Best Contribution to Language Pedagogy award for his multimedia course Modern Russian Culture, published by Lexicon Bridge Publishers.
Sophia Lubensky is professor emerita in Slavic and Eurasian Studies at University at Albany (SUNY), where she taught Russian translation courses, among other things. She holds a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Lubensjy is the author of several Russian language textbooks as well as the author and editor of numerous articles on semantics, the teaching of Russian, and translation. Her Russian-English Dictionary of Idioms won the Best Contribution award from AATSEEL and has been called "a masterpiece of scholartship" and "a real bridge between two languages and different mentalities." Lexicon Bridge Publishers proudly produced its Advanced Russian to accompany her two-volume book from Slavica Publishers.
Irina Odintsova received her Ph.D. in languages and literatures in 1985 from Moscow State University, where she has been teaching courses in Russian as a foreign language since 1993. She is the author and co-author of dozens books and articles on Russian linguistics and the teaching of Russian, as well as numerous materials for learning Russian. She is one of the authors of Advanced Russian: From Reading to Speaking.
Lora Paperno taught Russian language courses at Cornell University for over twenty years. She has written or annotated books for learners of Russian and is the author of Lora's Dialogs published at Cornell University's website (a new edition is in preparation at this site). Lora recorded several Russian poems featured in various titles at this site. Her most recent work is Recipe-Free Cooking, a 45-minute video in Russian.
Slava Paperno has directed the Russian Language Program at Cornell University since 1991. He has authored an intermediate Russian textbook, several dictionaries, and two dozen translations of works by American, British, and Canadian writers. He is the architect and builder of most titles published by this company, which he owns and operates.
Tomasz "Mucha" Pracel is a top-notch graphics designer, who should not be blamed for the less attractive pages on this website: they were designed by someone else. Thomasz is called in only for the most important design decisions.
Viktoria Tsimberov has been teaching Russian at Cornell University for over two decades. Her specialty is using video and film in her language classes. She has annotated numerous Russian films and television programs to make them accessible to American students, and is one of the principal authors of the Beginning Russian Through Film series published at Cornell's Russian website and used by several schools in the US.
Igor Afanasev, Snezhana Chernova, Garii Chernyakhovskii, Rustem Galich, Dmitri Khukhlaev, Vadim Krol, Elena Solovey, and Elena Uskenskaia are professional Russian actors living in the US. They are very active in various broadcasting and cultural programs around New York City and elsewhere, and we consider ourselves honored (and lucky) to have them perform in Advanced Russian and Russian Short Stories on Your Screen on this website.
Several of our projects were generously supported by funding from The Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning. Additional acknowledgement of financial and other support can be found in the About pages for individual titles.
Everything we ask the student to do must be relevant, meaningful, and intellectually challenging. Language is a wonderfully vibrant, elusive, complex, and flexible ecosystem. It need not be dumbed down to meet the learner's limited familiarity. We must accept and embrace its quirks along with its elegance.
Language is not arithmetic. You don't learn rules in a specific order, and you don't learn something once and for all. You can, and usually do, learn by performing a variety of steps; you learn a portion of each step at a time; you learn gradually, adding one layer after another, like making a snowball.
You are not a robot. Everyone learns at his or her own pace. The pace is uneven: you may seem to be stuck for a week or two, then suddenly you feel that you can do a lot more; then the learning slows down again. Some people learn to read sooner than they learn to speak. For some people speaking comes more easily than understanding spoken speech.
It is useful to have a foreign accent. You may take months to learn how to make certain sounds while others can imitate the natives with little effort. Do not lose your accent: in Russia, when you sound like a foreigner, people give you allowances for your mistakes, and they pay attention to what you are trying to say.
Languages are not governed by rules. A programming language is based on rules while a natural language evolves like a living, breathing system and does not follow static paths. What some people call "rules" are in fact merely our observations on the behavior of the language. Like everywhere in nature, we see variation, change, and quirks. Okay, perhaps capitalization is governed by man-made rules, but capitalization is merely a cosmetic detail.
Where there are no rules, there are no exceptions. Russian may have fewer than a dozen nouns that end in -mya but that doesn't make them an anomaly. They are lovely nouns. Three of them are extremely common. Just because something is rare, we don't have to call it an ugly duckling. Some of the so-called exceptions are easily explained by the history of the language... and some, yes, some are accidents. Natural history is full of them, too.
Lists are useless. Trying to memorize series of endings or words is largely unproductive. One learns by hearing, reading, writing, typing, speaking words and phrases again and again, by exercising as many of your abilities as you can. Mechanical learning has its legitimate place in language study, but creative learning seems to work better. Variety and context are the key.
Guessing is learning. In a mathematical formula, if you don't know the value of a variable, you don't know the value of the equation. Language is better: you can guess. Think of your daily interaction with the world: you are guessing all the time. When your guess is verifiable, you learn from your guess; when it isn't, you store the experience for later. Use that strategy while reading in a foreign language, and even while listening. If you fall into the habit of looking up and writing down the translation of every word, you'll never be able to read War and Peace.
Using documentary films for language learning fits our teaching philosophy. We have done this again and again in our own courses.
A film by accomplished and talented filmmakers tells the language learner much more about the foreign culture, people, and country than can be said in words. Since a language learner is informationally disadvantaged to begin with, this is very helpful.
By the nature of its genre, a documentary film is especially rich in carefully focused information. An idea, an attitude, a controversy is what drives a good documentary. This is the stuff that makes us think, and we know that learning of any kind—including language learning—must involve thinking. Formal language exercises with their typically disjointed pieces of information that have little relevance to our lives are never as effective as a story that consumes the viewer.
Unlike a typical textbook exercise, the language spoken by characters in a documentary is usually not scripted and thus reflects the speaker's personality and background. This is likely to benefit the learner in a number of ways: unscripted speech is more believable (and therefore more engaging), closer to the actual everyday language use (and therefore important to experience), and is rich with all the irregularities of linguistic reality (unfinished sentences, conversational fillers, on-the-spot creative distortions, etc.) that very few textbooks tell us about.
Our documentaries are not filmed for language learners, but they are edited with the language learner in mind. We tend to create short, well-focused scenes; avoid excessive use of music and sound effects that interfere with listening comprehension; and stay clear of ideology. But we do not shy away from challenging the viewer, both intellectually and emotionally, because learning is enhanced when the learner is engaged.