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Russian language

 
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peder



Joined: 30 Jan 2003
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 10:45 am    Post subject: Russian language Reply with quote

Should I even consider Russia as an option for a new teacher who doesn't know the language. Russia seems intimidating to me but it is also intriguing.
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expatella_girl



Joined: 31 Oct 2004
Posts: 224
Location: somewhere out there

PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even if you have a talent for language, Russian is impossible. The grammar alone would take two lifetimes to understand. Just this very morning in Russian class I discovered that one of the fundamentals of language which I thought was written in stone and invariable human-wide, differs in Russian.

The syllable. I was SURE that I knew what a syllable was and that it differed not, no matter what the language. One sound, one syllable. Wrong. My venerable instructor insisted that the vowel combination "oy" was TWO syllables. I hear one. People say it as one sound. How can it be two syllables?

It may be possible for a foreigner to learn Russian, but I'm not one of them. This language has 22 million rules and more cases than a luggage factory. Oi.
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waxwing



Joined: 29 Jun 2003
Posts: 719
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2 syllables? Hmm ... well I would have thought it was a diphthong, but then, unless you're studying phonetics or morphology or some such, I guess it doesn't matter exactly what you call it, as long as you can say it properly Smile

Impossible? I think you're being a bit pessimistic here Smile I mean, it is after all an Indo-European language, so it's in the same large-scale group as ours. In that sense, something like Chinese is much more difficult, because not only does it not share any word roots with English, but also it uses tones, which makes it very difficult to learn how to speak correctly (admittedly there are also advantages with Chinese - a much simpler grammar).
The problem for Anglophones is inflection - we're just not used to it. When you first look at noun declension tables, it is admittedly very frightening, even кошмар (koshmar - nightmare - French - couchemar - See? Indo-European!).
But eventually you do internalize some of that stuff - things like -ы for plurals come first, and then you start to get used to genitives like -а and -ы, -е for prepositionals etc. It all comes, but slowly.
The thing that really helps is if you've already learnt at least one other language from the group. If you've learnt French, you'll find hundreds of everyday words that are nearly the same as in French or English, and you won't be so uncomfortable with complicated verb conjugations. If you've learnt a bit of Latin or German, you won't find things like dative and genitive case so scary.

One thing for the OP - don't be scared by the alphabet. It only takes a day to learn and a week or two to get familiar with.
As for being intimidated and intrigued, I can only say I understand exactly!


Last edited by waxwing on Sun Nov 28, 2004 10:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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zaneth



Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Location: Between Russia and Germany

PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure, yeah, go for it.

As a teacher, you'll be able to function without speaking Russian. There are plenty of upper level students for you. The lower level students can work with local teachers (they need the work)

As for Russian, it's quite difficult, but there's a beauty to it.

The alphabet, as waxwing said, is no problem.

And there are plenty of languages that are more difficult. Estonian has 14 cases! Makes Russsian's paltry 6 seem easy.

The thing that gets me about Russian is how difficult some of the basic verbs are. But you can learn lots of vocabulary and get by while you are struggling with the dang verbs. As for the endings, a lot of times Russians don't speak them clearly. To a certain extent you can speak without getting the endings perfect.

And once you get past all the prefixes and suffixes, the verbs have nice simple roots, and there aren't so many of them.

Good luck. Don't be scared.

Now as for other things in Russia to worry about........
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maruss



Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 1024
Location: Cyprus

PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 2:49 pm    Post subject: Learning Russian Reply with quote

I just picked up what I know from conversation and can get by,but I agree that it's very difficult,especially the grammar etc.I would also agree that it's easy to read the alphabet,although living in Cyprus and having picked-up Greek has probably influemced my viewpoint!!Life in Russia DEFINITELY has so many other more serious problems than these and what does often offend me is when people there can hear you are struggling to communicate in their language with them but show no sympathy or appreciation for your efforts!!Maybe they are too stressed about other things to even care!

M.
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Zorba



Joined: 21 Nov 2004
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The language certainly isn't impossible to learn but it would require a lot of dedication and time. The alphabet isn't a big issue, you can master it in about a fortnight, but the grammar is quite hard to get used to. On the other hand, the intonation isn't that different from English and it is a real pleasure to hear Russian spoken well. I speak as someone who has been studying it for four years at university and spent a year there and is now, finally, just about fluent.

On the other hand, if you're proposing to go to Russia without planning to learn the language, I wouldn't recommend it. Very few Russians can converse in English and they are unsympathetic to those who don't speak the language well. It's not quite as bad as the situation in Britain but almost. You'd be alright in TEFL circles and in the ex-pat community in Moscow but these are numerically very small and everyday life would become an unbelievable chore.
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a minimum, learn the alphabet, otherwise you'll get lost straight away.

Zorba did well to get to fluency in four years- that's exceptional. The US intelligence rating supposedly puts Russian as an 8-year (to native-level fluency with intensive studying) language, with Spanish at three to four.

I studied Gaelic and French in school for years and years, and never got much further than a few basic oaths. I picked up Russian at university within a few weeks. It has a certain logic to it, but the place to begin is with the grammar, as you can't work anything out from word order. There are a lot of cases which substitute prepositions (I believe Finnish has no prepositions and 16 cases, of which 14 are used) so without knowing case endings, life can be tough!

Best to learn the basic everyday phrases- stopping marshrutkas, asking directions, buying things in shops etc, so you don't end up eternally riding round in circles, getting lost, and buying horseradish instead of bread.
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zaneth



Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Location: Between Russia and Germany

PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would second that about the beauty of the language. When I was visiting the states this summer I really missed it.
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peder



Joined: 30 Jan 2003
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2004 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks for all the input but let me ask a more specific question. Out those of you who have experience teaching in Russia, who came there without any knowledge what so ever of Russian. Personally, I know quite a bit about Russian history and I am also a dostoyevsky fanatic (one of the reasons why I am drawn to russia, kind of like dublin with Joyce). If you were in the same boat as me a couple of years ago an oppted to go to russia I would greatly appreciate any wisdom that you could share with me.
A little background info about me, so you know who you are sharing your priceless wisdom with.
I am in Lithuania right now and have been teaching at a gymnasium for the past three months. I got the placement through my university back home in Minnesota. After I am done (next week) I will have by B.A. in English Lit. I am most likey going to take a CELTA course in Krakow in Jan. So I will be certified.
Thanks in advace for the help.
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Postmodern



Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2004 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love the Russian langauge and unlike what some might say, it is not very difficult to learn. In fact, it is just as easy or just as difficult as any other langauge. I speak it pretty well and have been to Russia. It is not an easy place to live but if you have an adventurous heart, you'll do fine.

Docvedania!
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Postmodern



Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2004 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way, try to go to Saint Petersburg if you can. It is absolutely beautiful!
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Postmodern wrote:
I love the Russian langauge and unlike what some might say, it is not very difficult to learn. In fact, it is just as easy or just as difficult as any other langauge. I speak it pretty well and have been to Russia. It is not an easy place to live but if you have an adventurous heart, you'll do fine.


Well, not everyone finds it easy! I have known people who are fluent in two or more European languages who simply shook their heads in despair after a couple of years trying to learn Russian. Others found it easy. Now there's a big problem I've had in corporate teaching- having one or more bosses who speak fluent English, and dismiss the fact that not everyone is predisposed to learning the language.

Peder, come to Saint Petersburg- it's the cultural capital, and a good place to get immersed into Russia.

While I started here with (basic) Russian, I didn't use it in class at first. I still only use it when it saves a lot of time or ambiguity in explanation, or 'passively', to confirm that a student has chosen an appropriate translation for a word or expression. Go for classes from pre-int/intermediate upwards and everything will be fine.

Your love of Russian literature will serve you well, and your qualifications should take you far. If you survived Lithuania, I think you'll cope with anything here. Consider applying directly to the more prestigious schools- British Council, Liden & Denz for example. If you have finances to support you for a period of poor pay, I've heard that state university teaching positions are very interesting. You might even get a chance to tutor some of the local teachers there.

You're only a bus ride, or a few bus rides, away from St. P.

All the best!
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kazachka



Joined: 19 Nov 2004
Posts: 217
Location: Moscow and Alaska

PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, it's not impossible to learn Russian. I think much depends on life experiences and how one uses it oustide the classroom. I began taking Spanish in 6th grade and minored in it in college.I've never been to a Spanish speaking country and my ability in the language pales by far compared with Russian. I first came to what was then the Soviet Union as a sophomore in high school on an exchange in 1990. I began formal study of Russian when I majored in it at college. I spent parts of my summers visiting the friends I met on my high school exchange in Krasnodar so I was getting valuable in-country exposure. Without question, it helped me pick up the language much faster. I learned to tell time when people saw I was wearing a watch and constantly asked me on the street. Having studied Spanish did make learning Russian easier. No, it's not a piece of cake, but I was very motivated to learn it as so many of my friends in Krasnodar spoke little English. I'll admit though, it wasn't until grad school at MGU in 98 that I was able to flip on the TV and understand 100% of what was being said. After my junior year in Krasnodar, I was about 80% whan it came to listening to TV and radio. There are many Russian rock bands I've been listening to since high school and this has also helped. I did my MA in Russian between Middlebury College and MGU. At Middlebury, one gets kicked out for speaking English so one makes a lot of progress in little time. As far as my friends in Moscow, most speak absolutely no English. One is taking classes at one of the BKC schools and two others speak it because they taught English at the Russian embassy school in Cyprus. Aside from my teaching and helping my friend who studies at BKC, I speak little to no English in Moscow. Learning the language had enhanced my life in Russia in so many ways over the years. I've met some of my best friends in the world with the help of knowing Russian. I've also been teaching it along with ESL in Alaska for 9 years.Most of my ESL students are Russian and Ukainian. Parents speak no English and I am constantly interpreting for someone. So, it's a blessing that when in the US, I'm not allowed to forget the language:D Very Happy
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OlgaLaoshi



Joined: 04 Feb 2005
Posts: 13
Location: China, Taiyuan

PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2005 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another tip - if you do go to Russia, don't use this username there, because in russian it is derogative for "gay".
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