I have a confession to make. I’m quite a language junkie. I become as obsessed about learning a new langauge as others obsess over the newest fashion or phone or film coming out. I’m sitting happy with whatever I’ve committed myself to learn and then suddenly Swedish seems so appealing or maybe I could learn Old English…
The result of this unhealthy addiction to learning how to say as many things to as many human beings as possible means that I never get very far in my languages. If you were to ask me I would say that I could speak Hindi but if you put me in a room with a native speaker I’d be absolutely baffled by whatever came out of their mouth. It’s a terrible state of affairs.
At the moment I’ve committed myself (insofar as I can commit to langauges) to Russian. I adore Russian. Я люблю русский язык. I could eat, sleep and drink Russian. I love Russian music especially. The Red Army Choir almost makes up for the fear of thermonuclear war that hung over the latter half of the entire 20th century in my mind. Almost.
So when I want to learn Russian I know to learn from the mistakes of the past. I need to speak to people. As many people as possible. I also need to stop speaking English. Whenever I find myself with a Russian I’ll spit out a dozen or so phrases I’m comfortable with saying and I’ll flip straight back into English thereafter before I even realise it.
Tonight I had a delightful conversation with a chap named Vladamir in Belgorod Oblast, Russia. How did I do this? Through the wonders of SharedTalk, Rosetta Stone’s online language exchange. You can text chat and voice chat with a multitude of speakers in most languages around the globe all eager to meet up with you and practice their English.
This does of course mean part of your conversation will be in English but it does mean, to look optimistically, that part of your conversation will be in the language you want to learn. These aren’t just people in the street who don’t care for your fumblings and confusions – these are fellow language-learners who understand your plight and want to help you just as much as they want you to help them. It’s a perfect enviornment and fosters a great learning atmosphere. I highly reccomend it to anyone out there looking to practice a foreign language.
Одного языка никогда недостаточно!