Thursday, March 25, 2010

How I Learned Your Language – part 3 Russian

This is going be to be the saddest and shortest of my posts in the series. Despite many of the similarities between my mother tongue, Polish, and Russian, I never learned to speak that beautiful language.

I started my Russian classes in grade 5, just because the school couldn’t find an English teacher. I don’t remember a lot from that period – we learned the Cyrillic alphabet, the teacher was strict and we dreamed of learning English.

Russian returned in high school. As the majority of students were total beginners, we learned the alphabet again and the teacher, hmm... For three years she was constantly watering the flowers in the classroom making us, at the same time, create various dialogues in pairs. I don’t remember learning anything more than the present tense.

The classes, as you can imagine, were identical and dull. It was very easy to get the highest grade as the very rare tests she had been preparing were extremely easy, not to say banal. Consequently, none of us made any attempt to study or revise the language at home and our level of motivation to learn Russian at that time was close to zero.

Looking back, what an utter waste of time it was.

I came across on opinion once. The person who expressed it claimed that students’ motivation is inherent and the teacher cannot influence or change it no matter how hard s/he tries.

What are your opinions on this matter?


  1. Hehe, sounds VERY familiar :) Both French and Russian. I've also heard this opinion about student's inherent motivation but I'm not convinced. I met some students who would be a proof that this theory is correct but on the other hand I met even more of those whose motivation changed incredibly in the course od study. So I wouldn't be so sure. Sometimes I think that theories of this kind are created by teachers who fail to motivate their students. Sorry... :)

  2. Hi Marta and thanks for the comment!
    'theories of this kind are created by teachers who fail to motivate their students' - I couldn't agree more on that! :)

  3. A teacher needs to match the motivation level of the student. If there's a disparity, one party is bound to suffer.