Monday, December 14, 2009

Learning Russian - Monday, 23 November 2009

I love my 5th graders (have I mentioned that before?)! I tell them that I am learning Russian just like they are learning English. Except that they don't understand my difficulties--the Russian language is so easy, they say!

Today I asked them how to say "I'm hungry." And Kozhabi, just an amazingly wonderful student (yes, I LOVE my 5th graders!) told me something that I tried to repeat. Then they all started laughing, "No, teacher, don't say that!" He had taught me a bad word (or something bad, I didn't learn what it was. Maybe I was just saying, "I'm a chicken.")

Then they taught it to me correctly.

He wasn't being rude, he was laughing and he obviously knew he wouldn't get away with it, that I wasn't going to go off and use that word in front of, say, the vice principal, and get in trouble and/or look stupid. It was very funny and I'm glad that we can joke like that, without the kids getting out of control.

I think, also, that it is important for them to see (a) that the foreigners appreciate their language and culture, and (b) that a teacher is struggling with learning a new language, just like they struggle with learning English.

But I've already forgotten how to say "I'm hungry." I can say "I want to eat," however, which does get the point across. And I can say, "Breakfast is tomorrow"--"Zavtrak zavtra" because I think it's funny how similar the two words are. (Yes, I know that English has tons of words that are rather similar as well as actual homophones. "The deer is dear" is a fun sentence to say, too.)

Languages can be fun. And my 5th graders are great!

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