Only three weeks ago I returned from another extended stay in St Petersburg, just about managing to keep my head above water with my day job as Education Manager at Moodle HQ and Russian student at Liden-Denz. I was going to return in April for a wedding, and return again at the end of May for another study period and work towards taking the TRKI 2 (official Russian B2 level exam) towards the end of the year. As a language lover, former language teacher – oh and mother of son permanently living in Russia – I was highly motivated to continue.
Now it’s all changed. April trip is cancelled; May trip is highly unlikely and the earliest I can see myself returning is September, optimistically. Add to that the fact that, with the whole world wanting to learn how to teach online, my educator role in Moodle means I am currently never offline. That’s great! I love helping people use Moodle – but…I am really struggling to maintain the momentum of my Russian studies.
I still have my weekly Skype lessons with my wonderful teacher Lilya, and I am still diligently doing my homework. Lilya challenges me to work above my comfort level, something I never encountered at school or university, making this an interesting but salutary experience! However, Moodling in these manic times means I do hardly any Russian at all during the week, and my head is full of English. I end up spending the whole of Sunday doing my homework ready for the lesson Monday lunchtime – and that’s Russian “done” until the following weekend. Gone is my good intention to do half an hour a day with anything Russian – when I take a break from work I just want a lie down!
Of course we can always make time for the things we want to do – and I do want to do Russian every day. It’s choosing a time to fit the half hour in. I can’t really do it in the EU morning because there are usually meetings and (ours being a global organisation) I need to catch up on what others have been doing while I’ve been asleep. I work through lunch, dropping my food on the keyboard but hey.. and then, late afternoon, early evening when I begin to flag from the (great, I am not complaining) Moodle job, my brain is equally too tired to switch onto Russian. In theory, I could devote half an hour after dinner, around 8 , 9 o’clock, although the temptation to have a glass of wine and watch some mindless TV is winning at the moment. (Yes! There are lots of Russian TV serials I could watch, but believe me, in the last three and a bit years of learning Russian I have already watched hundreds of them! I see actors in one show and remember them from other shows they were in that I’ve also watched. Oh – and I’m in love with Kirill Käro. However, yes, Russian TV remains a possiblity.)
I subscribe to the Russian from Russia podcast These are very good, but again, and even with the transcript, I need a time when my brain is receptive in order to take them in. Is this old age creeping in? Likewise, I look forward every week to Michele Berdy’s column The Russian Word’s Worth which I read and listen to, but fail weekly to memorise all the interesting phrases. In fact, I seem to have so much vocabulary thrown at me these days I don’t even try to memorise stuff. I mean – which ones to choose? Grammar is fine now. Just so many words!!
I’m going to have to be strict with myself! Force myself to do something I love and want to do anyway – half an hour of Russian – probably at an easy level – at a specific time each day. Question is: when?