We may not want the Euro, but as a member of the EU, the UK and its citizens should have a good mind to get hip to some of the other creative languages within the Union, like Russian – especially as they’ll be hosting the World Cup in 2018. But how much do you think you could learn in an hour? When first presented with the task, I hoped I’d just about manage to struggle through the Cyrillic alphabet – that is, until I met my teacher.
Ignaty Dyakov is the founder and director of ‘Russian in London’, a language boutique that specialises in intensive learning for all proficiencies. Classes never number more than five students at a time and last approximately one hour; in fact, Ignaty is adamant that his clients learn better in a one-on-one environment. And it’s true; with Ignaty’s instruction, I not only grasped the pronunciation of 21 consonants, 10 vowels and a number of useful words, but also successfully transposed the Cyrillic version of my name (which is ФЛОРА БЭЙКЕР, if you’re interested).
Ignaty’s students study for a variety of reasons. For many, it’s for business purposes, either with native Russians or within the country itself, while others require extra tuition for university, or purely have an interest in the language, like me. Ignaty focuses his students with additional weekly emails or phonecalls so they can practice their writing or speaking skills. He feels that if Russian remains a primary focus for the student, then there’s a greater chance of steady improvement – and it’s a testament to his teaching style that one client, a British expat, chooses to learn Russian online at the school, despite currently living in Moscow!
Russian is an extremely creative language, where the speaker is able to structure sentences and exchange words depending on their personal feelings. For example, knowing how my name should sound in English means I choose the corresponding Cyrillic sounds, instead of the ‘correct’ spelling. This means a word is written exactly how you, specifically, want it to be read.
Ok, so it still makes my head go a bit fuzzy, but the concept is certainly fascinating, and after a single hour of learning Russian I’m even more set on visiting the country. If you’d like to have a go at learning Russian, visit www.russianinlondon.com for more info. (Words: Flora Baker)