I'm spending Xmas and New Year in Russia with my new "in-laws".

Dear Colleagues,

 I'm spending Xmas and New Year in Russia with my new "in-laws".  I'm exposed to a non-stop stream of Russian as there are not many English speakers in the family and all the day-to day exchanges are in Russian.  This is fascinating for me  and it is confirming what I always suspected: that motivation increases when needs must!  Inevitably, frustration increases too as I struggle with my limited active command of Russian to make myself understood.  My biggest ally in all of this, and my main teacher, is my partner's grandson, Maxim, aged two, whose vocabulary is at my level and who also benefits from constant repetition of messages from the adults that surround him.  This gives me constant contextualised acquisition opportunities and reinforces my learning in ways that suit me ideally.  Day by day, the 'input' becomes gradually more 'comprehensible', and my own confidence increases.  I also find myself more ready to take risks with the language with a child as an interlocutor than with adults.  I won't be reading Pushkin in the original this trip, but I hope I will be able to read children's stories with some degree of understanding!

I'll try to make one more progress report before the end of the month!

 Best wishes



 Dear Rod,

 Thank you for sharing with us all this curious news while spending these festive days with family and friends in Russia.

I can imagine how attentive you must be to that (lovely) child, Maxim! I think you also deserve congratulations because I guess your learning rhythm/pace has been so fast and you sound a very keen learner of a foreign language. I wish I could read children's stories in Russian in a short run...

A very happy, healthy and peaceful 2009 to you, your family and friends gathered there.


Dear Rod,

Nice to hear from you again and I would like to mention that being with children ,especially one at cute  Maxim's age is really marvellous .What I got from this real story is that researcher should work on this subject:How can we learn a language from a child?

Children learn quickly and we have to mull  this matter over  to find out the strategies of learning a new language,step by step,repetition encouraging,building self-steam ...ETC.Happiness robs off from children to others near them and I understand how you are feeling now.

Wishing you a happy holidays and good learnig.

Best regards

A Mazinanian

I can name all the English language teachers I know who speak a foreign language. For each of them there are a good dozen others.

These puritans are heavy on accurate pronunciation, queens of the immersion technique, and generally contemptuous of the local culture.

I think your blog should be read by all EFLTs. 

As for learning with two year olds, the big question is whether to spare the grey cells to memorise the names of animals (including insects and dinosaurs) or to allow for the vagueties of adults and save those cells  for essential contemporary economic terms that perhaps you, as I, don't understand in our mother tongues, such as post-collateral general prime mortgage fall-out sub-pleliminary deflation escalation (well,  that is as far as I could translate it).


high school teacher, Japan

Dear Nick, A. Mazinanian and Maria,

 Really good to hear from you all; I valued each of your comments.  My time with Maxim is coming to an end but I will definitely remember what I learned from him.  Let's remind ourselves again and again of the power of children and their value to us as warm little human beings who can teach us so much if we complicated adults are only ready to open up to them and their world.

 Very best