Is it true that the Russian language is among the most difficult ones to learn? Students from which countries know grammar and pronunciation peculiarities best? Sergey Trunin, the teacher of Russian as a foreign language, answers our questions. Sergey is a Candidate of Philological Sciences, Associate Professor, Professor of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, who has been helping foreigners to learn Russian language for 10 years.
— Sergey, in your opinion, can Russian be called the most difficult out of today existing language?
— Yes, in my experience among the world’s leading languages Russian is the most challenging one. And the thing is not in the number of grammar cases or conjugations – the basics of grammar are generally mastered within a year. The challenges are in numerous exceptions, which the language of Lermontov and Pushkin is bustling with, a range of peculiarities, language semitones — the things that we, basically, face every day.
— What is the thing your students remember from the very first mentioning and what are the things you have to work on during a longer period of time?
— Undoubtedly, the grammar cases are the most difficult ones. But to name what students remember the best is a little bit harder, because European students and students from China have a different perception of the Russian language. The parallels with the mother tongue are the primary things that affect the time of mastering a foreign language (in our case Russian). For instance, it takes less time to master Russian for Eastern Europe residents – Polish citizens, Czechs and Slovakians. Then there come the representatives of Western Europe and, in the end, the most difficult Russian is for Chinese people. It’s no wonder, taking into consideration a huge gap between Russian and Chinese grammar.
— Students from which countries have you been teaching?
— I’ve been teaching people from China, India, Nepal, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Poland, Korea, Pakistan, Sweden, and Nigeria. I have not probably mentioned all the countries – there are plenty of them.
— What three words describe the Russian language precisely?
— Fascinating, multi-layered, comprehensive.
— Are you a strict tutor? What techniques do you use to interest students to attend your classes over and over again?
— Yes, I am rather strict with my students. I do my best to teach my students and expect them to give the maximum in return. This strategy is justified, and a person who’s really come to learn the language understands it rather quickly that strictness and demanding attitude from me is benefiting for him. About making a student interested: the most crucial is not only to give grammar basics but to show that a language is a live, dynamically evolving organism. That’s why at my classes I tend to shift tasks from grammar exercises to working with texts and dialogues. We often listen to audio records for the students not to get used to the voice and intonation of the tutor, but to adapt to other voices and speech tempo.
— Do you master any other foreign language? Does there exist any formula of success, which can let anyone master a language in as short period of time as it’s possible?
— I know English, Czech, Ukrainian, German and French. Not at the same level of course, but I’m able to express my thoughts in each of them. The formula of success is pretty simple – learn as much as you can and don’t be afraid to speak up in a foreign language.
— Mr. Trunin, can a foreigner learn Russian in each and every detail?
— Frankly speaking, not every native speaker knows the language in every detail, to say nothing about the foreigners. However, I’ve met some non-native speakers who were speaking Russian practically fluently. Success lies in practice and determination.
— Do you have any dreams for the future?
— Of course I do, just like any human-being on this planet. But I’d rather not share my dream for it to surely come true.