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. This time it was during lesson 23 and most of 24. Meaning I didn’t do them exactly. There is something very primitive and primal about these Pimsleur lessons. I can’t look at anything while I am doing them or I get distracted, so it is a very inward-turning activity, which means everything else gets turned off, including sometimes my awakeness.

Late tonight, as I redid and then continued on with Pimsleur lessons, I contemplated the following:

  1. As I’ve said, to be successful with Pimsleur, you need faith. When I first hear some of these words and phrases, they initially seem impossible. In fact, I have that same reaction—“This is impossible!”—over and over. But then those words and phrases are ultimately not impossible. I am reminded here of the thing that makes A students, very annoyingly, say they failed tests. Then, when they get them back, they gleefully come up to you waving their latest A papers and you want to smack them. (Speaking of which, I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that I was never an offender of this type.)
  2. Pimsleur people must have had a big pedagogical challenge with the different verb forms for men and women. As I mentioned, gender shows up even in past tense forms and first-person present tense verbs. To make it work, on the recordings they have to prompt the listener to speak sometimes as a man and sometimes as a woman. They actually say things on the tape like, “Now, as a woman, say…” or “Now, as a man, say…”

The gender role-playing is rather interesting.

Comments (2)

Kris L. • Posted on Mon, August 19, 2013 - 5:27 pm EST

You were very ambitious to start with Russian first! and that you were able to continue shows much success!  I would/am starting with a language that I am more familiar with….German and then Spanish…

I think if I started Russian first I would probably be hiding under my bed with my cats!  Too scary!

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Mon, August 19, 2013 - 5:35 pm EST

Well, I really wanted to see what a new alphabet would do to my brain. And it is truly like magic to see previously indecipherable script slowly become readable! But German is fun, too! I have no objection to German! Or Spanish either!

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