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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Advancing in Russian Language

learn-russian-language-2Many of us with children hailing from Russia would like to preserve some of their culture and customs.  While we don’t wish to urge them to steal American Super Bowl diamond-studded rings (alleged by New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft of Pres. Vladimir Putin), nor wish to encourage them to learn how to poison foreign heads of state (alleged dioxin poisoning of Ukraine’s Pres. Viktor Yushchenko when running for office), Russian conversational or cooking skills might be nice.

In a Russian-American-Italian family like ours, and adopted at older ages, the kids can’t avoid knowing some Russian.  Problem is, it might be just enough to get them into trouble.

I’ll never forget returning to Russia to pursue our second son, friend of our first son, and “lost” (on purpose) in thematrioshkas system for several years.  But we tracked him down to his high-security institution, body and mind practically shot after intervening years of mistreatment. There the three of us were, in those halcyon days of traveling with less than a tribe, and the Russian Passport Control agent set her eyes on our now 11-1/2-year-old son.

We said hello in businesslike Russian.

“From whence did your flight originate?” she asked him in rapid-fire Russian.

300px-00Russian_Alphabet_3He had just awakened after transferring planes in Europe and falling fast to sleep.  All this following the excitement and anticipation of being allowed to see his friend after four years apart.  His bleary eyes squinted up at the official.

I racked my own brain, wondering if she was referring to our most recent flight, or from where we originated in the U.S.?  We probably appeared both stupified, and stupid-looking, and the official asked me if my son was okay.

“Dah, ohn horoshoh,” I assured her as she repeated her question for him.

“Ah,” she said to me in Russian as though the light bulb had gone off, “he’s deaf.”

“He is not deaf,” I shook my head.  “Ohn oostahl” (he’s tired).

Fast-forward to years later.  Our four Russian kids are keeping up their Russian, except for our youngest, Sashenka,SONY DSC who refuses to participate in anything that might use up her valuable brain cells.  She’s on more of a conversational level, whereas the others would be around the high intermediate level.

They work with the occasional Russian tutor, unfortunately, weekly Skype sessions in Russian with my father ceased after he passed away last summer.  So we watch videos online of babushkas talking about their cats or dachas or gardens, some news briefs, or even the Russian cartoons, which will not exactly help them with any university studies….

languageSo here’s a nice resource I found and would like to share.  “Russia Beyond the Headlines” has the infrequent Russian tutorial which might prove helpful to those looking to advance their Russian speaking, reading, or writing abilities.  There’s one on writing a business letter: http://rbth.ru/blogs/2013/04/09/lets_write_a_business_letter_24837.html.   From invitation letter, to refusal letter, to acceptance letter, each is read for you in the podcast, and written out in Cyrillic and in English. 

Quite handy, particularly if you have any toddlers intent on becoming entrepreneurs, or teens like ours, with ideas galore. 

I’ve found that having our teens practice reading at a fluent pace, along with the podcast, is helpful.  Also, copying business letters or dialogs keeps up their Russian penmanship.  Any Mac computer or i-Phone can familiarize older kids with the Cyrillic keyboard.

For beginners, you can click on nearby links to learn about how to talk about food in Russian (http://rbth.ru/blogslanguage2/2013/05/30/how_to_talk_about_food_in_russian_26531.html), how to start a conversation, say greetings or goodbyes, and so much more.  We’re talking boatloads of summertime fun for children who dare to admit to boredom-!

Viktoria May is the author of these gems and offers weekly grammar tips and other resources.  It’s free, it gets the little gray cells working, and it emphasizes the positive points of Russian culture and language.

Learn Russian now, and let them earn their own Super Bowl ring later.  “Prestupleniye nikogda ne platit” might not be found in most Russian lessons, but it’s worth learning, too.  “Crime never pays.”

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