I’ve been triangulating! I never even realised I was doing it until I read Richard West-Soley’s latest blog post on Avoiding the Translation Crutch where I learned that you can triangulate your language learning by linking two foreign languages.
A few months ago, via Twitter, I was encouraged to try out the site italki, , not for formal studying, but simply because I was looking for an informal opportunity to speak French for half an hour a week. French is my best language, my degree language and the one I am most at home with, but I rarely get a chance to speak it these days, although I read and write it frequently in my day job. I thought it would give me a confidence boost if I could have a pleasant French conversation each week, reminding me that, OK I do struggle with my B1+ Russian, but you can’t take my C1 French away from me !!
So I searched through the community tutors on italki and found a very pleasant teacher, Ana G… and just as I was booking the lesson, I noticed it said she spoke fluent Russian. Hmmm.. my usual habit of googling everyone I encounter online kicked in and I discovered while Ana is a native French speaker, she comes from a Russian family and is also a native Russian speaker. Oh joy!
So each weekend now, we have a relaxed discussion in French for half the session and then move to Russian – I can feel my stress level increasing even though it’s very informal – and whenever I am stuck for words, I just give her the French and she provides me with the correct Russian translation. No English exchanged at all. I end the session feeling refreshed both in French and Russian and enthused to continue my quest to feel as comfortable in Russian as I am in French. Since I started learning French in 1970 and started learning Russian in autumn 2016, I only have another 46 years to go 🙂