I haven’t blogged for over a month now. It’s because I have simply been getting on with the job of learning Russian, working with Lilya on Monday, with the UCLAN group on Tuesday and now – just started last week – with an optional conversation class on Friday, also at ULCAN, this year with Vlad, from Ukraine.
I recall in previous posts I have bemoaned my (self-perceived) lack of progress, my (self-perceived) ongoing lack of fluency after ONE WHOLE YEAR of Russian studies 🙂 Yes, I know….
But then one afternoon I was composing my weekly homework ( including this time, an essay on the life of Viktor Tsoi) when I sat back, considered my paragraphs so far and realised I was, without thinking about it, using perfectives and imperfectives without a struggle, applying case endings without needing to look them up, relating anecdotes without having first to check everything on Google Translate… and it dawned on me I’d crept, quietly, across a threshold, or, paraphrasing Myer and Land, I’d gone through a Portal from which there is no return. I can’t unlearn this now. How could I have struggled so much with Perfective v Imperfective? How could I have not known genitive plurals? Since when could I hold a conversation, in Russian, for almost an hour, as I did with Vlad last Friday? And he replies at normal speed with normal Russian – and I got what he said? As Didau puts it:
.. For most of us, this dramatic shift goes unnoticed and unremarked; it just happens. But it transforms us..From then on we are incapable of experiencing […] without this knowledge….once we’ve passed through this particularly elusive, troublesome threshold, it all seems so obvious and changes us so utterly that we find it hard to recognise a time before we knew how to [do this]
What does this mean for me? I no longer think I am not learning fast enough. My brain – my memory – has opened itself up so that words are becoming much easier to assimilate. Of course I still forget; of course I still make mistakes; of course I still have a lot of learning to do. But I can’t unlearn Russian now -the only way is Forward. Вперёд!
By way of a celebration here’s a song by my new hero, the legendary Viktor Tsoi:
Didau, D. (2015). What if everything you knew about education was wrong?. Crown House Publishing.
Meyer, J. and Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.