steam locomotive

The RAILS: Russian Advanced Interactive Listening Series Project, funded by a 3-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education International Research and Studies Program in 2003-6, developed a series of 30 online, interactive video-based listening comprehension lessons for intermediate-advanced level students of Russian.

The RAILS lessons are based on excerpts from the films Solovky Power and Children of Ivan Kuzmich by Marina Goldovskaya, and on original, videotaped interviews with prominent Russians such as Irina Khakamada, Sergei Khrushchev, and Veniamin Smekhov.

The RAILS project was a collaborative effort of faculty, staff and students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Slavic Languages and Literature (now the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic+), the Language Institute, Letters & Science Learning Support Services, and the Division of Information Technology, under the leadership of  Benjamin Rifkin, now at Hofstra University.


The RAILS lessons were updated in 2021-22 by Shannon Donnally Quinn, Michigan State University, with University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students Lidia Gault and Isabella Palange.

Karen Evans-Romaine (UW-Madison), Dianna Murphy (UW-Madison), Benjamin Rifkin (Hoftstra University), Victoria Thorstensson (Nazarbayev University), and Anna Tumarkin (UW-Madison) consulted on the updates.

Support for the updates to the RAILS lessons was from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Russian Flagship Program.