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Russian for Adult Learners


Beating the age barrier  

It is commonly thought that the older the age of second language learners the lower proficiency scores they achieve. That is not true. Two of my pupils have grandchildren. Teaching an adult requires a method based on logic and associations rather than repetition and memory.

Using loanwords and cognates as the foundation for language study breaks the age stereotype. My comparative method is based on associations with the vocabulary in the learners’ native language that normally grows in the course of life. Therefore, the older you are the more English and, consequently, Russian words you know.

You have not had a chance to learn the Russian language at school but now you are going to marry a Russian girl and it would be an advantage to be able to talk to your extended family. Making the week-long trip on Trans-Siberian is on your travel tick list. You are a native speaker of a Slavic language and knowledge of Russian would make a good line in your CV. Or maybe you have always dreamed to read Pushkin in the original because, frankly, there is no even semi-decent English translation - and there cannot be since Pushkin is the "the Sun of the RUSSIAN poetry". Such motivations are typical for adults who decide to learn Russian.


Many busy adults wish to learn the Russian language but cannot commit to a regular schedule for longer than 2-3 months, which is a very short time in terms of mastering a foreign language. This made me think of creating some more effective teaching method based on my research of loanwords and cognates. This method is based on my personal experience of learning a foreign language as an adult when I arrived in London at the age of 33 with a very basic knowledge of English.

I remembered how I managed to improve rapidly thanks to my knowledge of a large amount of Russian vocabulary borrowed from Western European languages. I realised that this strategy can work the other way around. So I developed a method of teaching the beginner level of Russian based on the extended use of Russian-English cognates. This technique is proving to be very efficient as my beginner pupils achieve the intermediate level quickly and consistently. So far the record is A and A* GCSE grades achieved by a group of adult learners after only 6 months from absolute "zero".


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