Russian with tears. March 2019
More Word Mazes. March 2019
Word Mazes with International words. March 2019
Помидоры. September 2018
Ты или вы? January 2018
Да или нет? January 2018

6. Russian with tears. March 2019

Dear Teacher colleagues,
Sometimes I receive very saddening comments from learners of Russian. Here is from an email that I received the other day. Doesn't it make you weep!

"The teacher was very unfriendly. She skipped most of the pages. Homework was not marked most of the time. There were 20 in the class and so we were allowed just about one sentence each to read. She made a comment to us all that we could not read very well. It does seem that she is not very interested in teaching. Most students did not re-enrol. We really cannot say much at all in Russian. This is very sad as it was very expensive".

This was from a beginner. In my opinion it is probably more difficult to teach Russian to beginners than to more advanced groups, especially for native speakers who haven't had to experience the joy and the pain of learning the language themselves. (This in spite of the fact that the pay for teaching beginners groups is often less than for advanced courses!).

5. More Word Mazes. March 2019
Thanks for the Facebook likes and for the nice emails that I have had about word mazes for beginners. I have written 12 more mazes using international words, names, places and other Russian words that are likely to be familiar to beginner learners.

They are available here: 12 more mazes.

Please use them and let me know if they work for you.

Here is another example:

4. Mazes with international words. March 2019
I have started teaching a small group of beginners this year and had forgotten how difficult it can be. But great fun! I don't like spending a lot of time on the alphabet, so for the first few lessons my students often find letter recognition difficult. I had used letter maze puzzles before, but had not thought of the idea of using only international words...

Learners can guess new international words that they haven't met before, which makes the task more fun and gives them a chance to expand their vocabulary. Here is one of the mazes and the answer keys. I will be putting more on this page in a few weeks.

"International words" are not just English words that are used in Russian, but also familiar words from other languages and Russian words that can be used in English.

The exercise is ideal for pair work - learners read the sounds of the letters aloud until they realise there is a new word. Of course the teacher has to go through the exercise at the end, to correct pronunciation and point out the stressed vowels.

A useful activity to add ten minutes variety to a beginners' lesson.

3. Помидоры
In April a friend bought me two tomato plants labelled "Black Krym" from a car boot sale in Oswestry. I checked online and found a variety called "Черный Крым". They were planted in the greenhouse and grew very slowly. In June I nearly threw them away, they were so slow to grow.

But then came the record-breaking hot summer and by the end of August they were starting to ripen. I now have some huge fruit, and they are delicious. They have a wonderful thick fruity texture and are very sweet. You can see the size by comparing them with the 20 pence piece in the picture.

A Russian visitor told me they were probably not "Черный Крым" but "Черный Принц". Never mind. Now I am going to try to save some seed and grow them every year.

2. Ты или вы?
This can be difficult for English speaking learners of Russian as we mostly stopped using "thou" and "ye" many years ago. The best advice is to take the lead from your Russian friend or acquaintance, but this doesn't quite work if you are of different ages or status.

The flow chart below was produced by Tatiana Klimova for her excellent website and is reproduced here with a small adaptation. It was intended as a bit of fun, but is really very good.
For learners, the English version is below.

Back up to the Russian version.

17 January 2018 ____________________________________________________________________

1. Yes and no and да и нет
What could possibly be easier? You might think that yes and no are the easiest words to learn in a foreign language. But in Russian it is not quite that simple.

In Russian, да can mean "Yes, you are right" and нет can mean "No, you are wrong". This can lead to a misunderstanding for English speakers when a Russian asks a negative question.

See how it works in Ruslan 1 Lesson 2 dialogue 1:

Иван: Здесь нет метро?
Людмила: Да, нет метро. Вот стоянка такси, а там автобус.
Иван: Спасибо.

In English this would have been:
- There is no metro here?
- No, there isn't.
But a Russian would normally say:
- Yes, there isn't. ("Yes, you are right, there isn't.")

This isn't just a pedantic point, it can lead to all sorts of confusion and could even have led to the end of the civilised world as we know it. Imagine Khruschev and Kennedy in the Cuban crisis in October 1962 if they had tried to sort it out on the phone without interpreters:

Kennedy: You are not going to press your button are you?
Khruschev: Yes, ....

Nikita Sergeyevich was going to say "Yes, I am not", but it was too late, JFK had already pressed his button...

3 January 2018.