In over my head

German class went well today, so I was feeling confidant.  I felt like I could learn any language I wanted to learn.  I felt like I could even learn more than one language at once.

So, after class, I got excited when I noticed a Russian class on the cultural center’s calendar.  I studied Russian for about 3 years each in high school and college, but that was a long time ago.  I remember the basics, but I’ve forgotten enormous amounts of vocabulary and grammar.  I’d love to refresh my Russian skills, and this class seemed like it might be a golden opportunity.  I didn’t know if the class would be basic first-year stuff or advanced conversation and literature, but I decided to crash the class and see if I could pick up some useful conversation.


There were six students in the class: all girls about 13 years old.  From what I could tell, they all have one German parent and one Russian parent, and the parents send them to this class to help them retain their family heritage.

So, these girls knew Russian better than I ever did at the height of my skills.  I could barely read along with them, but I was just sounding out the words in my head; I had no idea what 75% of the words meant. All conversation in the classroom was in Russian, and it was happening too quickly for me to have a hope of keeping up.  Also, the teacher treated them like the young students they were, not in a way that I would appreciate as an adult student.

I left after 35 minutes.  I guess I’ll have to be content studying one foreign language at a time.

About Lance Finney

Father of two boys, Angular/TypeScript developer, Ethical Humanist, and world traveler (when I can sneak it in). Contributor to Grounded Parents.
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2 Responses to In over my head

  1. Lance Finney says:

    The German class is introductory German for foreigners. It started out at a very basic level.

    I didn’t know what level the Russian class was supposed to be. In fact, I stil don’t know what level it is, but I do know there was a lot of vocabulary in those readings that I either forgot or never knew in the first place.

    I was ok with some of the grammar, but not all. It would have been a stretch.

    My Russian is definitely better than my German. However, I expect that not to be true by the end of the four-month German course given the gradual degrading of my Russian.

  2. Rob says:

    Having a parent who’s a native speaker really helps your language skills.

    Is the German class considered beginner while the Russian is intermediate or something like that? You don’t have large amounts of German, I would have guessed that going into the class your German was weaker than your Russian. Is that not the case or the classes are targeted differently?

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