Beyond Grammar

Photo by Michael Parulava on Unsplash


When I teach a beginning class, I like to ask students why they are there. What led them to choose this language? What are their goals?

And I don’t think anyone has ever said, “To learn about the genitive plural.”

Of course, grammar is important for adult learners; trying to learn a language with no attention to grammar is like trying to climb a mountain with no maps or guide.

Still, most of us take up a language so we can engage more deeply with another people – their history, music, food, and culture and world view. That, ultimately, is what makes learning another language worthwhile.

I’d like to introduce you to two of my favorite resources for learners that go beyond grammar to give a deeper introduction to Russia and its culture. Итак:

Tatiana Klimova’s Russian Podcast features weekly audio or video podcasts on a wide variety of topics, sometimes including interviews with relatives or well-known Russian teachers; recently she documented a trip to the Russian countryside in Karelia, near the Finnish border. Tatiana’s approach is warm, friendly, and encouraging; you can follow her on Facebook, and her site is really worth a visit.

Anastasia Semina is a native of St. Petersburg. Her videos touch on travel tips, holidays, short stories, listening tests based on film clips, interviews… and if that’s not enough, she teaches Finnish as well as her native Russian! You can always find something interesting and fun on her Youtube channel.

So: remember that grammar is just a tool to help you reach your other goals. Be sure to take a break and remind yourself of why you decided to take up this extraordinary language!

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