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Lynne deBenedette

Senior Lecturer:
Slavic Languages
Phone: 401 863 7572
Phone 2: 401 863 2689

My interests involve issues in second language acquisition (SLA) which affect teaching practice. This includes curriculum design, effective use of technology, structured input and processing instruction as alternatives to traditional approaches to grammar instruction, and evaluating student work. I am also interested in foreign language teacher education and the professional development of language instructors.


Before coming to Brown in 1995, Lynne deBenedette studied at Middlebury College and the University of Michigan and taught at UM, Wayne State University and The Russian School at Middlebury; she also led short-term study abroad groups for Boston University. She teaches Russian language and coordinates the Russian language curriculum; she has also taught Czech. In alternate summers she serves as the coordinator of Brown in St. Petersburg, and is the advisor for study abroad in Russia. She is a regular 1st-year and sophomore advisor, and has served as a Randall Advisor for sophomores.

Her research interests include curriculum design, instructional technology, Processing Instruction and foreign language teacher education.


At Brown deBenedette collaborated with colleagues Beth Bauer and Shoggy Waryn to establish Russian, Spanish and French versions of the online intercultural exchange "Cultura" (originally developed at MIT for French). Cultura draws on constructivist approaches to language learning, and the social network created by the exchange allows for a community of multilingual and -cultural participants (US students of Russian at Brown / Russian students of English in a Russian city) to explore the cultural "baggage" even the most basic terms carry, both for individuals and groups.

If Cultura takes on the larger issues of remaking foreign language curricula (in order to, as a recent Modern Languages Association report put it, "situate language study in cultural, historical, geographic, and cross-cultural frames,") there is a concurrent need in foreign language education to focus on the traditionally regarded "building blocks" of language study, among them instruction in grammar. Traditional approaches have remained largely mechanical, involving rule memorization and application, often in exercises that do nothing to ensure that a grammatical form (a case ending or tense marker, for example) has been mapped correctly to the meaning it encodes. Meanwhile research in language acquisition has established that neither rule memorization nor mechanical drilling leads directly to competent interaction in a foreign language. Structred Input and Processing Instruction (VanPatten, 2004) seek to remake grammar instruction by focusing on the places where learners process forms incorrectly. Activities require students to demonstrate comprehension of new forms used in some meaningful context before they have any need to use the forms in speaking or writing themselves. SI and PI activities now exist in quantity for Spanish and French, but research on how best to create these activities is only beginning in less-commonly taught languages like Russian.

Along with William J. Comer (University of Kansas) and Alla Smyslova (Columbia University), deBenedette is a co-author of a new online introductory textbook that incorporates a focus on language input and vocabulary acquisition with a variety of focus-on-form activities like those found in SI and PI. Между нами (Between You and Me) is being piloted in 2013-14 and is slated for public rollout in August 2015.


M.A. Russian Literature, 1987


John Rowe Workman Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities, 2010-2011
President's Awards for Excellence in Faculty Governance, 2013


AATSEEL (American Assoc. of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (since 1990)
Vice President for Pedagogy Division (through 2011)

ASEES (Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, formerly the American Assoc. for the Advancement of Slavic Studies) (since 1994)
Chair, Committee on Language (2010-2012)

AAUSC (American Association of University Supervisors and Coordinators) since 2001

ACTR (American Council of Teachers of Russian) since 2010


Russian language, introductory to advanced levels (RUSS 0100-RUSS 0600)
Czech language, introductory
Theory and Practice of Foreign Language Teaching (HISP 2900)

Funded Research

Brown Curriculum Development Grant: "Cultura" at Brown University: Exploring Cross-Cultural Awareness in the Language Classroom, 2002-2003

Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning Campus-Based Grant to develop a Russian Resources Website

CLEAR (Center for Language Education and Research) Workshop: "Introductory CALL Techniques". Work on development of Computer-Assisted Language Learning materials. Michigan State University, July 1998.

"TA Perceptions of Second Language Acquisition and Teacher-Training" (co-author with Pennylyn Dykstra-Pruim): funded by grant from Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning

Web Links

Curriculum Vitae

Download Lynne deBenedette's Curriculum Vitae in PDF Format