Monthly Archives: April 2012

Russian or Bust – Learning a Language Online.

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!

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The Adventure Begins

Hello. My name is Alasdair Lawrence and by nature I’m an extremely hesitant sort of chap.

Why do I tell you this? Because it’s taken me the better part of a day to sit down, create a blog and write these words you’re reading. Not, however, because I was planning out my big introduction with a script and research or anything as excusable. No – I was sitting in front of the screen. Staring. Waiting for some spark of divine genius to wash over me and provoke me to write the first 100 words that would secure me fame, success and a readership that would match the Bible. Faced with such fantasies rattling around my head it’s not surprising that any combination of words I could spill out onto the web felt insufficient for the task at hand.

And then I thought about my blog’s name. Pioneer of Pixels. It came from a witty little turn of phrase I made up one day long ago and it seemed fitting for an endevour such as a blog. But when I thought about it – it hit me. I wasn’t here to make millions or change the world. I’m a pioneer – an adventurer. I’m trailblazing into the unknown, both in the wide world and on the wide web. It’s a personal adventure. The places and things I’m “pioneering” have been done before. Thousands of times, too. But the point is that I’ve never done it before. I’m a pioneer of the personal, just as we all should be.

This is a blog. Blog, of course, comes from a funny old contraction of sorts. Originally it meant “Web Log” – a place where one could log their experiences. A diary for the whole world to read. So that’s what this is – I’m going to have as many adventures as I can and, at the end of the day, I’m going to sit down and say “Dear Diary…”

Here’s to good memories,


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