October 5, 2009

Learning Russian

My son has wanted to learn Russian for a couple years. We tried using Rosetta Stone (free through our public library), but it was just too confusing for him. He has not let this go, constantly asking if he can learn Russian, etc. He did the same thing with wanting to study piano -- we gave in on that back in 7th grade, and now he is an advanced classical pianist planning on studying composition and theory in college (hint: if your child begs you to do something and doesn't give up -- give in and let them go for it. You will never know if you have a budding Einstein or YoYo Ma on your hands!)

Last evening, my son said again -- "I want to learn to speak Russian" and then followed that up with another request at lunch today. I was heading to the library to pick up a couple books, so I thought I would visit their language isle. I had looked there previously, but didn't recall seeing anything that would work for us. Our library no longer provides free access to Rosetta Stone. They do offer Tell Me More, but only for French, German and Spanish.

I happened to find an entire series on Russian from Pimsleur. I had looked over Pimsleur once before, but passed it by because it is solely auditory. My son is a visual learner, and I naturally assumed that he would learn language best through a visual mode, like Rosetta Stone. Don't get me wrong, we actually enjoyed Rosetta Stone, we just didn't feel like we learned that much from it.

Case in point: my son grabbed the CDs I brought home today, went into his room, and completed the first lesson. He came out, telling me how hard Russian was to learn, how he couldn't remember how to say "excuse me," and then proceeded to speak to me in Russian. His recall was impressive -- his accent excellent -- and his understanding of the language itself, well, was phenomenal. He explained why certain sounds were necessary, why you pronounce words a certain way, etc. I was bowled over -- completely impressed. Granted, this is lesson 1, but if the next 7 lessons go as well, I can see this kid speaking Russian fluently before he graduates from high school (in two years).

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