Learning Russian – In Anger

In my other life, I loiter on the outskirts of a geeky, developery community where the term ‘in anger’ always amuses me. It has nothing to do with being annoyed, but refers to doing something for real, rather than just playing at it. For example, you use a Moodle plugin ‘in anger’ instead of just experimenting with it on your test site.

The time is approaching where I need to think about learning Russian ‘in anger’ – upping  the pace a bit, and thinking about my future intentions. I’m nearing the end of the Oxford Take off in  Russian book (link to previous blog) which has formed the basis of my daily practice, along with a variety of exercises from the useful Red Kalinka site and, of course, my daily dose of Duolingo.

The other day I did some sample GCSE Russian listening and reading papers – just out of curiosity. I got 46 out of 50 on the Listening and 42 out of 50 on the Reading. (In fact, I was surprised at the slow speed of the listening, contrasted with the Oxford Talk Russian CD) While that was encouraing, there is no way I would reach an acceptable level in speaking or writing yet – although it made me realise it is achievable. But do I want to achieve it? What purpose would it serve other than being able to say I had a GCSE in Russian?

Alternatively there are the Test of Russian as a Foreign Language (TORFL) exams. My son already has one and is currently working towards the third level exam. I could try the Basic level – but again – is there any point?

I don’t need to be certified to be motivated to learn; the pleasure of being able to communicate is enough for me. As for upping my pace, I start on Monday with weekly private lessons via Skype with Lilya, whom I met in St Petersburg. These will supplement the face to face lessons (which are fun and involve real human contact 🙂 ) and I hope will help me move on from the Take off in Russian book. Which will get a full review shortly!


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