Siberian Bridges’ Secretary-Treasurer Judy Boudreau shares her experiences on auditing Russian 101 at the University of Minnesota this past Fall.
I’ve been wanting to get a better handle on learning to speak Russian. My options included Community Ed (tried that in the past), exposure to Russian speakers (my ear does not pick up nuances) or taking advantage of the University of Minnesota’s Senior Citizen auditing-for-free classes. Needing the structure of learning from the start, I chose the audit option this past Fall.
I entered the class a little late because I was on the wait list. But the instructor went out of his way to get me enrolled. It was a fun class of young students (6 of whom grew up with native Russian speakers but who never learned to read/write in Russian). After getting the Cyrillic alphabet down, we learned a lot of vocabulary and how to write in cursive. We worked on the four basic skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. We also learned the intricacies of many cases and endings. I was re-energized about visiting Zabaikalye again (I visited Chita with Chuck Ritchie in 2012).
Fun class activities included games, songs, videos, apartment searches, and sharing information with classmates. But there were definitely challenges: the frustratingly slow process of learning a new language at an advanced age, balancing 5-days a week of class time in between my job and other life responsibilities, and homework!
In the future I definitely want to move on to the next level, but am unable to fit it into my schedule as I prepare for retirement. Meanwhile, my plan is to stay in an active learning situation with my Siberian Bridges Board members who speak Russian as well as with some native Russian friends!