July 31, 2009 | Russian

A French Detour

After being reminded how much my French sucks, I review.

I just got back from Brandt’s play (same one as before—A Night at the Kremlin). It was the fifth performance of a six-night run in the Midtown Theatre Festival. While there I talked to the English…

August 2, 2009 | Russian

Pimsleur Theory

The theory behind the Pimsleur method.

Here’s a weird thing about the vocabulary for “year” in Russian: year = god (pronounced somewhere between English “god” and “goad”) 4 years = 4 goda 5 years = 5 lyet From god to goda to lyet. How mysterious. I…

August 3, 2009 | Russian

French Ascending?

Brain cells are awakening. Perhaps.

I did not do as much much studying as usual today. I did, however, speak a lot of French, at Brandt’s cast party for his Russian play. I spoke to Irina, the playwright’s wife, in a…

August 4, 2009 | Russian

Russian Grammar and Spelling Challenges

Russian grammar requires some deep thinking.

In a language with many cases, such as Russian, grammar knowledge helps so much! In my current Russian grammar, which is organized (bizarrely) by part of speech, you wouldn’t even be able to find information in the book without…

August 5, 2009 | Russian

Sleeping as Learning Technique

In which dozing off provides language benefits.

On my way to teach a writing session downtown today, I had an amazing conversation in Spanish with a family from Spain consisting of a mother, father, and son, who was maybe about 15 years old. It was the best Spanish…

August 7, 2009 | Russian

A Grammar Blow

An unexpected grammar complication arises.

I got some really bad news about Russian today: most verbs have two infinitives. That explains a lot. I have been having dictionary troubles with verbs, not understanding why I am being given multiple similar translations when I look up…

August 7, 2009 | Russian

Language Role-Playing

I am learning to talk like a Russian man.

In Unit 67 of my grammar book, I am learning something called simple future. It is strange and hard, far from simple, and is freaking me out. I dozed off on the job again today. On the Pimsleur job, that is.…

August 8, 2009 | Russian

Status Report

My vision is ruined by the Russian alphabet.

I’m exhausted. I hardly ever sleep enough these days. I am too riled up by this language project. Since July 1, I have done 69 units in my Russian grammar book, plus 55 Pimsleur lessons. To help me go to sleep, I…

August 10, 2009 | Russian

On the Eve of Pimsleur III, Russian

I will soon be graduating from Pimsleur Level II.

This morning I went through Pimsleur lesson 28 (Level II) for a third time. I absolutely could not understand the opening dialogue (these lessons always begin with dialogues), despite listening to it about 10 times. It is something about a man trying…

August 11, 2009 | Russian

Sex Organ Soundalikes

The Russian word for "important" sounds like a female sex organ.

In my Pimsleur lessons, I am being asked repeatedly to say “important meeting” in Russian. And I am having terrible trouble with the phrase. The Russian word for “important” sounds like “vagina” to me,…