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Olga Zabotkina

Lecturer (Teaching)

Lecturer (Teaching) in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures+44 (0) 191 33 43460


Academic and administrative roles

Teaching and module convening

  • RUSS1042 - Russian language 1B I am responsible for designing and teaching the oral component; I also teach text classes
  • RUSS1151 - Introduction to Russian History and CultureI deliver two lectures on this module: "The Image of the Russian Church" and "The World of the Russian Village"
  • RUSS1161 - Russian language 1A Designing and teaching the oral component
  • RUSS2012 - Russian language 2BDesigning and teaching the oral component, audio-visual classes and translation (E-R)
  • RUSS2191 - Russian language 2AI am responsible for designing and teaching the oral component and I am the module convenor
  • RUSS3031 - Russian language year 4 I teach translation (R-E)
  • RUSS3381 - Russian for Professional Communication (year 4)I am the module convenor and I teach both interpreting and translation on this module

Other academic and administrative roles

  • TLRP (Target Language Research Project) supervisor for Year Abroad students
  • Staff mentor
  • Coorditator incoming Erasmus students
  • Russian department coordinator Language Detective programme for schoolchildren of County Durham run by Durham University in partnership with Durham County Council 

Born in the Far East of the Soviet Union, I graduated from Kaliningrad State University (which is in the far west of Russia) having received a degree with distinction in philology and qualifications of a teacher of English.

Having moved to Kostroma (one of the cities of the “Golden Ring” of Russia), I worked in the Historical and Architectural museum-reserve as a senior researcher and later as head of the department of museum pedagogy. I also taught English at the Kostroma State Pedagogical Institute, worked as an interpreter with delegations from Durham (UK) and Durham (North Carolina, USA) and accompanied delegations of the Kostroma City Council and Kostroma diocese on their visits to England.

After moving to Durham I worked as a freelance interpreter/translator and also taught Russian at St. John’s College (“Training for success”- Russian for beginners), at South Tyneside College (DPSI course) and at Durham Johnston school (GCSE and A-level).

Since 2010 I have been teaching Russian at all undergraduate levels in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures.


Conference Papers
  • International Conference XXVI Olomouc Days of Russian Studies (Olomouc, Czech Republic, September 2023). "Extracurricular Activities in Higher Education. My Experience and Findings".
  • 2nd Language, Translation and Intercultural Communication Forum (Prince Sultan University, 18 March 2023). "Success Story. Learning through Performing".
  • Interaction of Languages and Cultures, 9th International conference (Cherepovets State University, October 2022). "Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language through Acting and Performing"
  • LSPHE 2022 (York) "Learning through Performing"
  • UK Lingua 2022 (Durham) "Learning Russian through Performing"
  • Durham University Festival of Teaching and Learning (2021)"Learning Russian through Performing. How students of the Russian Department created an online concert in 2021 and what they gained"
  • 10th International conference Russian Heritage in the UK (04.07.2021) I presented the paper "Bringing History Home. How students of the Russian department of Durham University created and performed literary and musical evening to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory Day (1945-2020)".
  • UK Lingua 2021 (Durham) I was leading round-table discussion "Learning through Performing".
  • Kostroma International Student Conference (2020). My student Alex Haigh presented the paper on the history of dachas in Russia, which I supervised. Here is the link to Alex’s presentation: 
  • UK Lingua 2019 (Durham) "Reaching across borders" (how I created and supervised the programme for our first-year students to go to Kostroma to teach English in summer schools and to improve their knowledge of the Russian language and culture)
  • Durham University Fourth Learning and Teaching Conference, 2019 "Reaching across borders"
  • UK Lingua 2018 (Durham) “Engaging Students through Songs and Fairy-tales”
  • Durham University Third Learning and Teaching Conference, 2018 “Engaging Students through Songs and Performance in and out of Classroom” 
  • Conference organized by N.N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology (Moscow) and Kostroma Architectural – Ethnographic and Landscape museum, Kostroma, 2018. I presented the paper “Peasant women in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century”. My student Victoria Pedley took part in this conference with the paper “The life and writings of Marfa Kryukova”, which I supervised.
  • Durham University Second Learning and Teaching Conference, 2017 “Songs in Language Teaching”
  • Conferences in the Kostroma State Archive in 2012, 2014 and 2017 - papers on Kostroma peasants in the first half of the 20th century and on the history of Durham - Kostroma twinning link.
Performances and Events
  • "Wings of Poetry" Competition (January 2023)
  • At the Crossroads: What Every Language Professional Should Know. Webinar by Yelena McCafferty, award-winning Russian interpreter and translator, director of TalkRussian translation company (25.01.2023) 
  • Dr Rahima AbduvalievaAitmatov’s interpreter and translator,spoke in person to the students of Russian about great Soviet Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov and his literary heritage (30.11.2022)
  • Yelena McCafferty, award-winning Russian interpreter and translator, director of TalkRussian translation company, spoke to our fourth-year students doing Russian for Professional Communication module. A very inspirational talk with an insight into profession of translator and interpreter was followed by many questions (19.10.2022 & 19.10.2023)
  • Concert of the Russian department "Everything begins with love. The legacy of love in Russian literature and music" (08.03.2022)
  •  Prospects of further education and work in Russia after graduating. In November 2021, the finalists of Russian department had a privilege to discuss this question with Boris Zhelezov, representative of Russian Ministry of Education and Science at the Embassy of RF in the UK.
  • Julian Henry Lowenfeld, a prominent writer and one of the best translators of Alexander Pushkin delivered two lectures to the students of Russian in November 2021 1. "Eugene Onegin" by A. Pushkin2. The art of translating Russian poetry into English
  • How to become a successful interpreter and translator. Yelena McCafferty, award-winning Russian interpreter and translator, director of TalkRussian translation company, spoke to the students studying Russian for Professional Communication. She shared her professional secrets and answered many questions (October 2021). 
  • International student conference "From Knowing to Understanding" between students of Russian at Durham and students from the schools and technical colleges in Kostroma and the Kostroma region in Russia (16.04 2021), organized in collaboration with Kostroma Regional Institute of Education Development.
  • Online concert of the students of the Russian department (2021), which I organized with technical support from Rossotrudnichestvo in Great Britain, can be found here: Publication about the concert on Rossotrudnichestvo site: 
  • Evening dedicated to the great Soviet writer Chingiz Aitmatov with Dr Rahima Abduvalieva, Aitmatov’s interpreter and translator, as a guest speaker (March 2021).
  • Celebrating 160th anniversary of Anton Chekhov with Dmitry Turchaninov, director of the first professional Russian-speaking theatre in London “Xameleon” as a guest speaker (November 2020): 
  • MLAC concert “Music Unites Us All”, which I organized with all the departments of the School (2020) can be found here: 
  • "Literary and musical evening to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory Day", which I organized with our second- and fourth-year students (2020) can be found here: 
  • Performance of Chekhov’s short stories, which I organized  with our second-year ab initio students (2019) can be found here: 
  • Articles on the history of the Ipatyev monastery in Kostroma, on relationships between the city of Kostroma and the Romanov dynasty published in research magazines and newspapers.
  • Articles about County Durham, its people, its heritage and traditions published in the Kostroma regional newspapers.
  • “Kostroma from A to Z” by O. Zabotkina, N. Pashkevich and I. Sidorova. Textbook in English for pupils of secondary schools. Kostroma, 2006.
  • “Kostroma from A to Z” by O. Zabotkina and N. Pashkevich. Workbook in English for pupils of secondary schools. Kostroma, 2012.
  • «Кострома-Дарэм. Английские заметки» Кострома, 2010 (“Kostroma-Durham. Notes from England” Kostroma, 2010)
Scholarship Interests
  • Enhancing student engagement
  • Songs in language teaching
  • Teaching translation and interpreting
  • Enhancing student experience
  • Using performance in and out of classroom

Research interests

  • History of Russia (end of the 19th – beginning of 20th cent.) and of the Romanov dynasty
  • Russian folklore and fairy-tales
  • Russian wooden architecture and peasant household