Languages and Living
After three weeks of Russian classes and living in Kyrgyzstan I’ve found that rather than getting languages confused, I’ve actually created clearer boundaries between the languages. Turkish doesn’t creep into my Russian anymore, and I’ve started to recall a lot more than I learned (but didn’t learn to use) in class at Chicago. However, I’ve found that having eighty minutes a day isn’t really enough. For the first few days it was great, as immersion helped me recall and step back into using my Russian. But now I find the pace too slow, the class not intense enough for being just once a day. Before my classes at London School kept me incredibly busy – because I was just starting to learn a language that was bombarding me in everyday life, and busy because I was taking twenty hours of class a week. And unfortunately it seems that the classes are crafted for full-time study, with not a lot of work and review expected of students outside of class. It may also be that my young teacher is tired by our two pm class, and can’t do much more than go through the textbook, which is classically so soviet style with its focus on “student life” in Moscow, excursions to St. Petersburg and Sochi, and old Russian writers and tennis stars. I have yet to find a Russian textbook written for Central Asia, or anything more pertinent to current life here. Even our textbook in Chicago was written in 1992.
Nevertheless, these past few weeks I’ve started to feel a lot more linguistically comfortable living in Kyrgyzstan. It’s not just learning to use the language; it’s also automatically reading the language around me, following an overheard conversation, understanding my surroundings.
Turkish I haven’t had as much time to actively study (though I discovered the marvel of memrise, which is the perfect way to spend a bus ride), but the vocabulary is sinking in and, while I may still fumble in speech, I’m understanding a lot more and am starting to follow conversations without needing to ask for translations.
So, in sum: I wish classes at the London school were a bit more intensive, and it is possible to learn two languages in which you have relatively equal abilities at the same time.
Languages and Living