As you will see, I haven’t touched this blog since September. I promise I have a good excuse, lots of them, in fact!
Dima (my son) is all over the place. Moreover, if I do do any blogging it’s usually on my personal blog for relatives who really only want to see pictures of the baby. Needless to say, however, that blog hasn’t been touched in several months as well.
2. Graduate School
I just finished my coursework for my graduate program, now I have to start working on my thesis. My thesis is on intonation (a love of mine) and whether students can use intonation in Russian to 1) ask a question and 2) emphasize the word in the question that they have been inquiring about. I’ve gathered 30 samples of students speaking and I plan to have native Russian speakers in Kiev rate these samples when I go there in July.
3. Teaching Russian
In addition to graduate work I also teach undergraduate classes at the university where I am studying. It has been lots of fun. I’m actually learning a lot. I was never in a Russian classroom really. I pretty much taught myself the language and then signed up at the university and only studied grammar twice a week, but that was in Russian. So there’s a lot about Russian that I understand intuitively but have never really had to sit down and come up with an explanation as to why it is that way.
I’m a pretty creative teacher, I think. I love Russian culture and language and it shows in my enthusiasm in class. At the start of every class period I have a poster or plakat for the students to look it. The poster will usually demonstrate the grammar that we are discussing that day or week. I ask the students in Russian, “What do you think is happening here?” They try and answer. Then we discuss the cultural/historical significance of the poster. They seem to really like it.
4. Learning Ukrainian
To graduate I need to know a third language and to eventually get into a Ph.D program I will need to know multiple Slavic languages. So, because I already have a special place in my heart for Ukraine, I decided to learn Ukrainian. It’s coming along wonderfully. I’m planning to do a two week language course in Lviv (where most people speak Ukrainian rather than Russian) in July. Following my course in Lviv I will go to Kiev where I will do the research I mentioned above for my thesis. I figured this is my last chance to have such an adventure. My husband’s mother, who doesn’t get to see Dima very often, will come babysit him while I’m away. Then I’m going to come home and maybe start working on baby number 2, write my thesis, graduate, and do more blogging, of course!
I have found some amazing language friends via the following websites and I have to tell the world about them. If you are learning a language, especially if you are doing it on your own, these websites will revolutionize the process! You can meet people on both of them and then help each other with the language via Skype. I keep our written chats and go back through and make them my dialogs that I use to learn new words and phrases.
Lang-8.com On this website you submit something written and people come through and correct your grammar, word usage, syntax, etc. You can add friends and exchange messages with them and then arrange to talk on Skype.
Livemocha.com This website is also amazing. You can go there and take beginning lessons for any language. I didn’t think the lessons themselves were all that realistic or useful. But you submit writing and speaking samples and natives will critique you. But the best part is that you can find people from any language who are currently online and are looking to practice. They are desperate for English speakers, so be ready to do some quid pro quo. I chat with the friends I’ve made on that website several times a week and I look forward to meeting them when I go to Lviv!
I hope I don’t offend any of you pure-blood Russian lovers, but I plan to do several posts on the process and interesting aspects of learning Ukrainian through Russian. I believe that the Slavic languages are like children. Sure, the first child/language will always have a special place in your heart, but just because you start learning another language doesn’t mean you love the others any less!
I also hope to do some blogs of some of my fun lessons that I do for my students. Although starting in a week I’ll be teaching Russian 101 again, which is hard to teach because you have to avoid the cases. I hope you’ll hear more from me soon, all 8 of you, my dear, faithful readers.