August 19, 2009 | Russian


On the move with Dr. P.

I did Pimsleur on the run today. Or rather, on the walk. Specifically, for a couple of hours, I ran errands around New York (funny that in this expression you say “ran” instead of “walked”) while simultaneously doing language lessons. I went to Niketown, a watch repair place, and various other exciting destinations.

Niketown on 57th Street

Doing Pimsleur on the move was extremely effective. As I’ve said before, I do my best by far on lessons if I am walking. It is better if it is not too noisy (Manhattan traffic can be a problem), but as long as there aren’t significant distractions and I really can just walk on autopilot, my brain seems at its best while my body is en route to somewhere.

What I can’t figure out is this: if I do better on lessons while walking, do I also learn them better for future non-walking purposes? Will skills acquired during walks remain at a higher level in the future regardless of whether or not I am actually walking while talking? Or do I merely perform better while on the walk, and after that my nonwalking conversational skills drop down to the same level they would have been at had I done the lesson sitting still? I am inclined to think the former. It feels as though the Pimsleur pours into my brain more thoroughly and instinctively if I walk while learning. It’s bizarre.

Another thing I noticed with Pimsleur: I often get the grammar of a sentence right, but then mess up the proper nouns. For example, if I am asked to translate, “Does your friend’s husband often travel to Moscow?” I might say in totally grammatical Russian, “Does your friend’s husband often travel to Washington?” Or vice versa. Strange.

I ran a road race in Prospect Park tonight. It was phenomenally hot. Despite all the sweating, I still managed to do grammar book exercises on the subway to and from the race.

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