Natalia V. Parker

Natalia V. Parker


A keen educator and a language practitioner, throughout my career of over 20 years, I have been advancing learning and searching for more effective ways of teaching languages. Securing the UK Research Council Scholarship through the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH) encourages me to pursue this further during my current PhD at the University of Leeds.

Trained in Foreign Language Teaching (FLT) at the Tula State Pedagogical University (Russia), I was selected to join a British Council training group at the University of Norwich (UK), where I was introduced to a variety of different approaches to language teaching.

Straight after my graduation, I was offered my first full-time teaching post at the Tula Polytechnical University with responsibilities for teaching English as FL to Russian speaking students. My use of advanced teaching methods attracted similarly minded educators.Taking advantage of the new Russian education reforms, in collaboration with other innovative pedagogues, we set up one of the first non-state non-profit-making schools with the purpose of implementing more up-to-date teaching. At the age of 27, I became a Head of School.

After moving to the UK, I started teaching my own language as foreign. My experiments with innovative ELT (English Language Teaching) approaches in the context of Russian as L2 resulted in a new teaching methodology. It was first piloted at the University of Swansea and then, supported by the British Philological Society, it was successfully tested during my MA in Applied Linguistics at the University of Sheffield.

My current PhD research appears to be a natural progression for my academic development and the AHRC Scholarship through WRoCAH provides me with a range of outstanding opportunities to make a difference in language education.

February 2020 BASEES (British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies) newsletter features my interview about my research (p.3)

The British Philological Society has also got my post about my research and my first textbook on their blog

My first textbook “Russian in Plain English” has just been published by Routledge, which I am delighted about.

Finally, my first article has appeared in the Proceedings of Penza State University Annual Conference “Modern Developments in Linguistics and Language Teaching: the Problem of Method” (DOI is to be confirmed). It was followed by the publishing of my MGIMO paper (the paper is in English) (or  p.85).Parker, N. V. Methodology of teaching Russian grammar to English speaking beginners, based on Jerome Bruner’s Spiral curriculum. Магия ИННО: интегративные тенденции в лингвистике и лингводидактике, 85.


Research interests

I am primarily interested in language pedagogy research as well as Second Language Acquisition and Psycholinguistics. 

My teaching intervention experiment at the University of Sheffield tested the effectiveness of my new teaching methodology, based on Spiral Curriculum put forward by the Americal psychologist and educationalist Jerome Bruner, and was focusing on pronunciation teaching at complete beginner level. The successful results of this study were at the basis of my presentation at the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) Conference in April 2018. In the same month, I was representing BASEES at Modern Languages Conference in Durham.

I feel very fortunate to have secured the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities Competition Studentship for my PhD, which started by my presentation at the WRoCAH conference in Ocober 2018. It included an interactive part when I taught the audience of over 100 attendees to read some Russian words with no transcription and say simple sentences in Russian. Since then the methodology has been developed further to see my abstract accepted for the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AASTEEL) Conference in 2019.

My PhD is investigating the application of the Spiral Curriculum principle to the teaching of grammar, cases in particular. During my Year 1, I worked in three main directions: systematizing theoretical foundations of my teaching methodology, developing my research design and dessimenating my findings to date. Extensive reading on morphology acquisition, specifically the acquisition of Russian cases, as well as analysis of how cases are treated in the teaching materials available, has led to my interest in the role of working memory and information processing in language learning, which was reflected in my writing. The development of my research methodology has resulted in the creation of an original Comics Test, designed specifically for testing case acquisition at the very early stages of learning. Furthermore, the test was successfully piloted, together with some other materials, with a small group of volunteers from the Russian Studies. With regard to dissemination, I have been trying to actively use the opportunities provided by my funding. Here is the list of conferences where I presented in 2019.





WRoCAH’s 4th Annual Conference

York, UK

18 October 2018


Teaching Pronunciation in Tandem with Teaching to Read in a Different Alphabet


AATSEEL (American Association of Teachers of Slavic and other East European Languages)


New Orleans, USA

7-9 Feb 2019

A New Approach to the Teaching of Russian Word Stress and Other Phonological Aspects to Complete Beginners (Session 9)

The Magic of Innovation: Integrative Trends in Linguistics and Foreign Language Teaching

MGIMO, Moscow, Russia

22-23 March 2019

Methodology of Teaching Russian Grammar to English Speaking Beginners, Based on Jerome Bruner’s Spiral Curriculum


BASEES (British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies)


Cambridge, UK

12-15 Apr 2019

Solving the Puzzle of the Russian Stress (3.11; 4.12; 5.11; 6.12)


Modern Developments in Linguistics and Language Teaching: the Problem of Method 

Penza State University, Penza, Russia

24-26 Apr 2019

Spiralling in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language

LCS PGR Conference “New Voices, New Perspectives”


University of Leeds, UK

3 May 2019

Spiralling Russian Grammar: a way of integrating with communication practice

14th Annual Meeting of the Slavic Linguistic Society (SLS-14)

University of Potsdam, Germany

11-13 Sept 2019


Integration of Various Approaches to Case Acquisition in a New Grammar Spiralling Teaching Methodology


On a different topic, throughout the summer, I was providing admin support for the Russian Readins Seminar 3, organised by our department and held in London in September. I feel this has equipped me with some useful skills of organising an academic event.

Year 2 started with a very successful (according to my panelists) Transfer, which was followed by an extremely busy period of recruitment for my teaching intervention. It was not the most favourable timing, as it coinsided with the start of the academic year and new admissions. After endless emails and thanks to the help of some dedicated admin people, I managed to recruit have three groups of English speakers and a small group of Chinese students learning Russian. Since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, my experiment was successfully transferred online and from 37 participants, I have managed to keep 35. I have now completed my final testing, recording everything online. At the moment I am collecting qualitative data in the form of questionnaires and interviews.

As part of my research, I have developed two original and innovative speaking tests for early stages of learning (after just 20 classroom hours). Both tests are conducted with the help of comics panels, using the plots from Russian literature. The first test is based on a famous Russian satirical novel by Ilf and Petrov “The twelve chairs” and the second on a poem by Filatov “About Fedot-strelets”. My presentation on these tests at AATSEEL in February 2020 has evoked a lot of interest and was followed by a number of requests for the full set of panels for future use in teaching. Now the test is fully licensed for non-commercial use and can be found on the OSF (Open Science Framework) platform here .

Finally, as part of my funding, I am running a Knowledge Exchange Project, which consists of a series of rouund tables and webinars with those who are involved in teaching Russian in the UK. My first even took place on 18th June 2020 online – a webiner on teaching Russian to heritage speakers for the Russian Community Council of the United Kingdom


  • MA in Applied Linguistics / University of Sheffield
  • Diploma in FLT / Tula Pedagogical University (=BA with Honours)

Research groups and institutes

  • Russian and Slavonic Studies
  • Language pedagogy
  • Language acquisition
  • Linguistics and Phonetics