21 February 2005

moderate progress

Today a friend asked me how my Russian learning is progressing.


After thinking about her question, I decided that classroom L2 aquisition has a low progress rate for me. By comparison I think that I am progressing faster on my own.

I wonder if anyone else has opinions on whether it is faster or easier to learn on your own rather than in a classroom.

Most everyone will respond that the fastest way to learn is by immersion. I'd agree that immersion has a high progress rate. But if immersion is not an option, then what's the next best choice?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am fluent in German which I learned by immersion, having lived and studied there for 5 years. I am now taking a second run at Russian. It seems to me whether you are learning in a classroom or not, if you want to be successful, most of the work has to be done on your own. I am using some CDs by Primsleur (sp?) that involve the spoken language only. Native speakers say words and phrases and you try to mimic them as well as you can. The idea is that this is how native speakers learn their native tongues. The big caveat here is that the infant learner is quite a bit more flexible in his ability to create sounds he hears around him; he is not influenced by a memory store of familiar and well practiced sounds from another language. Also - barring a bilingual family - he is still totally immersed in his native language. You must have a good ear to be sucessful with Primsleur or other such methods as no feedback on your pronunciation is provided. A second draw back to this method is that you remain illiterate in the language you are trying to learn. In Germanic and Romance languages, both of which borrow - as does English - heavily from Latin, you may be able to wrestle out some meaning from a sign, menu, etc. In a language that uses a different alphabet, you are lost. On arriving in a Russian speaking country, you may be able to understand a little Russian, but the signs, etc. would drive you mad. Possibly the best route may be a combination of something like Primsleur and Rosetta Stone. Then you would get the spoken language and gain a little literacy. However, when all is said and done, to only way to learn to speak a language is to speak it. If you have some linguistic facility, you can build a basis in a language, but if you want to be fluent, you must be surrounded by and dependent on native speakers.