These Strange People

Podcast Show with Marie Staroverova
and Native Speakers Club
#5 Кто такие "white trash"?
Добрый день! Я, Мари Староверова, приветствую вас на шоу "These strange people - Эти странные люди", которое мы делаем совместно с проектом Native Speakers Club.

Native Speakers Club - это уникальное пространство для погружения в иностранные языки в самом центре Москвы.

Сегодня говорим с Джесси, как изучать иностранные языки. Джесси делится своим полиглотовским опытом, рассказывает, как он учил испанский и русский. Из подкаста вы узнаете, кто такие "white trash" и что критично важно, если вы хотите говорить на английском.

Приготовьтесь слушать подкаст на английском языке!
Рабочая тетрадь для занятий по 4 подкастам
Мы не отправляем спам и не передаем ваши контакты третьим лицам
— Hello, Jessy! There is an opinion that a person can study a foreign language simply by going to the country where this language is spoken.
Undoubtedly this is the best way to learn a language -- by immersing yourself in the culture and traditions of the people who speak this language. However, unless you actually apply yourself -- that is - to work hard at it -- you won't learn much and your experience will probably be a disappointment. Some people live half their life in a foreign country and never learn more than six phrases. Other people speak fluently after just a year. It all depends on your goals and on how hard you are willing to work. Some people think luck has something to do with it -- but as Gary Player once said: "The harder I work, the luckier I get."

On the other hand, I have met Russians who have never lived abroad and they speak English wonderfully! But, perhaps they were the ones who, instead of studying hard, simply went fishing and caught golden fish. And when the fish asked them what wish they would like granged, they of course said: "I want to speak English amazingly well!"

— You lived in Columbia, Mexico and Argentina. How did you learn Spanish?
When I was very young, in Columbia, my mom would write out words in Spanish and tape them to the object -- like door (la puerta), car (el coche), cell phone (Teléfono móvil), no, wait a minute, we didn't have cell phones when I was a kid. Hat (sombrero), Let's party! (vamos a la fiesta!)

After living in Columbia for two years we went back to Canada where I went to school and started learning English, Math, Science and even a few words in French. In 6th grade we moved to Mexico and I resumed learning Spanish. This is where I realized that I was a polyglot -- even though I didn't really know what that term meant. I thought it was a kind of rare South American parrot that liked to eat a lot. Polyglot. It's a strange sounding word.
— You've been living in Russia for quite a long time. Do you speak any Russian? How did you learn it?
I speak Russian quite well, thank you very much.--- Здравствуйте товарищи! Баня Гатов? Пойдемme! I just wish I had taken the time to study more Russian grammar when I first arrived. And this is a point I would like to stress to all language learners: studying grammar is indispensable to correct speech. If you don't believe me, just ask the "White Trash" or "backwoods" folks who --- don't know nuthin 'bout no grammar. We all done jus' fine 'way we are. We ain't never read no books -- takes too much time, 'sides, the words 'r' too small -- hurts 'r' eyes. But we can sure watch TV good, we're real good at that. ---

Now, I don't mean to marginalize anyone, and in defense of what we might term "American White Trash" most of them are good people. But, how much better to expand one's mind and explore the world! And, yet, let us not displace kindness with too much useless knowledge. Let us also remember that English is not the only global language -- Kindness is really the most universal language of humanity. As Mark Twain said: "Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
— Is Russian a difficult language?
Yes, it was quite difficult for me when I started learning it. The main challenge is that it has almost no similarities to English or Spanish, so I had no reference points to work from. Everything was new to me.

But, I hate living in a place and not being able to understand what people are saying -- especially about me -- and not being able to properly communicate my thoughts -- especially about food and philosophy.

So I took a basic course in Russian, got a notebook and started writing down everything I saw as I was traveling around Novosibirsk. My Russian friends helped me a lot, and with their help, I was able to make rapid progress. As I did my mind began to open up to the Russian world around me. It was an amazing journey of discovery.
— There is a short movie where they speak artificial English. It was filmed to show how English sounds to those who do not understand the language. And how does Russian sound to you?
I can understand pretty much any conversation in Russian now. But when I first arrived it sounded to me like everyone was arguing with each other all the time. I remember the first time a "Babushka" yelled at me. It was my second day in Russia and I was taking the Moscow metro to Red Square to buy my first "Ushanka".

As I was coming into the metro station the "Babushka" standing guard at the gate started yelling and shaking her finger at me. She was terribly severe and I thought surely the KGB would arrest me any minute. Yet I couldn't think of what crime I had committed. I hadn't even jumped the metro gate.

I asked my Russian friend about it and he said that actually, she was "looking out for my well-being." The fact is that it was freezing outside and she had noticed that I wasn't wearing a hat. She was just trying to keep me out of the hospital, bless her soul. But I never forgot my lesson and always wore a hat whenever any Babushka was nearby.
— Why do you think people learn foreign languages?
I'll tell you why I learn foreign languages.

I find people to be the most interesting subject on earth, and being able to understand and communicate with people from different cultures is one of the greatest joys. I have learned so much from the people I have had conversations with. Everyone has something to add, some piece of this puzzle we call life. Even "White Trash" have something to add. And even though they "ain't read no books or nuthin; they know plenty 'bout forest critters, cleanin' huntin' rifles and makin' cornbread 'n' beans.