Meet: Irina Mozelova. Irina lives in Moscow where she teaches and blogs about Russian. She told us how Russia is getting ready for the World Cup, linguistically and culturally.
“The whole of Russia is very excited about the World Cup. Russians love football, even if they don’t play it that well, and the country is looking forward to meeting fans from other countries. Russians really love foreigners and are always keen to meet new people and make friends from all over the world.”
“When it comes to finding your way around, Russia has prepared well. For example, the signs in all the Metro stations of World Cup host cities have been printed in English as well as Russian and staffed with English speaking employees, so that fans should be able to find their way around without having to learn the Cyrillic alphabet.”
“Learning Russian is a challenge for people whose native language is English and who don’t speak any Slavic languages. However, I believe that if a person has motivation and desire to speak the language – everything is possible. I know several people whose native language is English, but have learnt Russian fluently. Some even read Russian literature, which is quite difficult, even for Russians!”
“Learning Russian can be fun, and a bit of an adventure. Learning the alphabet is not as difficult as people think. In fact learning Cyrillic letters are not that hard for English Speakers. Some words are very similar. For example
мама – mom
спорт – sport
такси – taxi
метро – metro
кофе – coffee
бар – bar
банк – bank
Америка – America”
“Russian is full of additional meanings: meanings that change with inflections or with context. It is also full of words that come from funny places. Take the word “cемья”. It means “a family”. This word consists of two syllables “семь” (means seven) and “я” (means “I”). So basically “family” means “seven me’s”, “seven people like me” (me, mom and dad, 2 grandmothers and 2 grandfathers). Russian is full of words like that. It is so funny to explain it to my students.”
“Learning a new language is like learning a sport. You need to do different types of exercise to get a full workout and to really achieve success. Yes it is important to improve the vocabulary, build grammar usage and improve pronunciation. But working only on grammar or only learning new words will not help people to communicate. Yet communication is what most people really want to achieve: Most people want to be able to communicate with Russian people. They don’t want to read Pushkin or Dostoyevskiy.”
1. Ask yourself why you want to learn Russian (knowing the answer keeps you motivated!).
2. Find inspiring role models. People who have successfully learnt Russian and now can use or even work in it. Ask them how they did it! – every learner has a story.
3. Practice every day, even if it’s just a little bit and even if it’s passive learning. (5 minutes of listening to the radio, podcasts in car, Russian music, movies, youtube blogs etc).
4. Find somebody to speak to in Russian. Find a language exchange partner or a Russian tutor, so that you can regularly speak the language and practise what you have learnt.
5. Come to Russia!
“I think Argentina, Germany or France have high chances for the victory.”
Thanks Irina for all the tips and advice. We wish you a very enjoyable World Cup in Moscow!
For more great ideas and information about Russian and Russia, have a look at Irina’s blog.
Language learner, teacher and contributing author to the Rosetta Stone magazine
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