diary

Diary Entry #4 - learning never stops

The academic year has well and truly begun. The streets are now teeming with students and I think it is high time I became a student again and 'kick-started' my Russian. Start to practice what I preach a little bit more!

After studying French at school, I, like so many of my fellow countryman, wasn't interested in learning another language. One is enough was the mantra! But for some reason, over 8 years ago I decided I wanted to learn Spanish. Well actually, earlier that year I had went abroad for the first time in over 10 years and unsurprisingly it was to Spain. 

I thought it would be pretty easy. Spend 30-40mins a day with my Rossetta Stone CD-rom, learn a few thousands words and then voila new language at my disposal. I worked my way through the different levels of their program and I felt like I knew quite a lot. My accent was terrible of course, but I could recognise different sounds and I could quickly tell you the Spanish for "cat", "gentleman", "hat", "open". "close" etc.

So now it was time to buy a one-way ticket to Spain. I literally did - from Luton or Stansded to Santander. But before I left I felt it was prudent to have a few conversational classes. I found a wonderful native Spanish teacher living in Birmingham and had 5 classes. 

I remember getting to my hotel in Santander and completed the formalities with the receptionist with relative ease. But, that was pretty much the only success I had on my whole journey! I could answer all the questions in the app but couldn't express any idea myself and had very little idea of what was being said to me. Back to the drawing board. Or rather, put learning Spanish on the back burner and focus my attention on something else.

However, fast-forward 6 years and my enrolment in a Russian course for foreigners at the Minsk State Linguistic University. Out of the frying pan and into the fire! New alphabet, some hardcore grammar (there can be 24 different words just for one adjective) and some crazy sounds. 'Hard' is not an adjective that does it justice. 

But now I've become an English teacher I feel much better equipped to make good progress. I also know that learning a language is not bloody easy. It's a long road and my expectations are much lower than 9 years ago. I'm looking forward to my weekly Saturday classes and finding YouTube videos in Russian and Instagram accounts to troll.

I'll report back my progress in July.

Diary Entry #1

I thought it would be a nice idea to write a little diary entry now and again and just write about anything that takes my fancy. It will mostly be all the irreverent stuff that happens to me here and it will be liberating for me to write it in such a way that is designed per se for learners of English but will be 100% natural.

Anyway, so today, for example, it wasn't my intention to get caught by controllers but I did (I suppose it's no-one's intention to get caught by controllers). As always, I left my flat in a bit of rush and quickly grabbed my things included some small change because I knew I had to buy a ticket for the bus.

The bus arrived as soon as I crossed the road directly opposite my building and as I got on the bus I started to count my small change and it turned out I had only 52 kopeks. 8 kopeks short of a ticket bought from the driver. Oh well, I thought and decided to sit down and check some things on my phone. Needless to say, two stops later the guys with navy blue waistcoats arrived and started to check everybody's tickets and travel cards. 

One of them approached me and said something. I showed him my travel card something like "it doesn't work. it must have ended yesterday" and then from my hand I showed my change including a couple of round pink tokens for the metro and said "I'm short of money". 

I had no idea how he was going to play he was in his mid-twenties. But, the controller guy counted the money said something i didn't understand and then gave me 3 kopeks and told me to buy a ticket. I was, of course very grateful, and offered a "zhiton" in return (metro ticket) he refused, I said thank you and walked down the bus to get off at the next stop to buy a ticket with my 55 kopeks (it costs slightly more if you buy a ticket from the driver). As a got out I heard the other controller in the middle of argument with a woman who had a young child with her.
I'm glad I got the younger guy and not the older one!
I also miss the good old days of 'conductors'.