William Comer

Professor of Russian

Dr. Comer teaches courses in Russian language, literature and culture. He started his academic career at the University of Kansas, moving to Portland State in 2014 to direct the innovative Russian Language Flagship Program.

His current research work focuses on the learning and teaching of Russian, especially the areas of vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension.  His pedagogical edition of Viktoria Tokareva’s short story A Day without Lying (Slavica, 2008) was awarded the prize for Best Book in Language Pedagogy by American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages in 2010, and he is co-author of Mezhdu nami (=Between you and me), an online, open-access textbook for elementary Russian, which won the prize for Best Book in Language Pedagogy by American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages in 2017.

Since 2015, he has directed two grants from the National Security Education Program to promote linkages between the PSU Russian Flagship Program and K-12 Dual Language Immersion Programs for Russian and community college Russian programs. In 2017, he received a Flagship Collaborative Technology Grant to lead a team to develop an online tutorial program for improving reading comprehension in Russian. The project resulted in the application STAR: Steps to Advanced Reading, which is an open access tool for students of Russian.

Published Book:

Viktoria Tokareva, День без вранья: A Glossed Edition for Intermediate-level Students of Russian with Vocabulary, Exercises and Commentaries. Ed. William J. Comer. Bloomington, IN: Slavica, 2008. 153 pages.

Companion Website for text: http://www2.ku.edu/~russian/dbv/

Recent refereed publications include:

  • Kisselev, O. and Comer, W. “Interdepartmental Collaboration and Curriculum Design: Creating a Russian Environmental Sustainability Course for Advanced Students.” Foreign Language Teaching and the Environment: Theory, Curricula, Institutional Structures (pp. 180-196), ed. Charlotte Melin. New York: Modern Language Association, 2019.
  • Comer, W. “Measured Words: Quantifying Vocabulary Exposure in Beginning Russian.” Slavic and East European Journal 63.1 (Spring 2019): 92-114.
  • Alsufieva, A. and Comer, W. “Preparing Global Professionals: Language for Specific Purposes and Approaches to Community-Based Language Learning.” In: Jann Purdy (Ed.), Language beyond the Classroom: A How-to-Guide for Service-Learning Curriculum in Foreign Language Programs (pp. 48-75). Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018.
  • Comer, W. “Literary Texts in the Undergraduate Russian Curriculum: Leveraging Language Learning and Literary Discussion through Scaffolding.” Russian Language Journal 66 (2016): 3-29.
  • PhD
    University of California, Berkeley
  • BA
    Middlebury College
  • MA
    University of California, Berkeley