Russian Language For Foreigners – Story 15 – In Love With Russian Language
Russian language for foreigners has never been more enjoyable than to listen to this story.
Written and read in perfect Russian language by one of the most (if not the most) experienced teachers of Russian language to foreigners.
This is the story about the People’s Friendship University (Росcийский Университет Дружбы Народов; РУДН) and the pioneers of teaching Russian language to foreigners.
Stories in Russian Language – Story 15 (of 15) – Russian language – my love
Summary in English
Russian language – my love
Recently, Russia has got a new day of celebration, “Day of the Russian language.” Many writers and poets, musicians, artists, scientists, and we, teachers of Russian, dreamed of such day of celebration. Once one of the famous actor said: “We should thank God for what he has done such a fantastic gift to us – gave us an excellent Russian language. The great Russian scientist Lomonosov wrote that in Spanish you can speak with God, in French – with friends, in German –to the enemy, in Italian – with women, but in Russian we can speak with everyone. Really, it’s an amazing language – rich, handsome, lively and tuneful.
Of course you know that the founder of modern Russian language was Alexander Pushkin. Not surprisingly, the Day of the Russian language will be celebrated on the sixth of June, the birthday of the great Russian poet.
Peoples’ Friendship University
And today I want to go back and tell you about my good fortune – in fact my whole life is connected with the Russian language. It so happened that summer of 1960 I graduated from university and became a philologist. And on February 5, the head of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, while in Indonesia on an official visit, made an important announcement. The Soviet government decided to create a Peoples’ Friendship University specifically for young people in those countries where it was still difficult to obtain higher education.
It is clear that above all it was necessary to organize the Russian Language Department to teach foreign students to speak, understand and write in Russian. For this new case were called upon the young Russian teachers who know different languages. It was a happy coincidence in my life. I just graduated from university where I studied not only Russian but also English. I was very fortunate to, in big competition, became a teacher at this new University.
It took only seven months from the decision to establish a Moscow Peoples’ Friendship University, until the first bell sounded in its classrooms. From start, one hundred and twenty teachers worked in the Russian language department. At that time there were no textbooks or teaching methods. We were young, enthusiastic and keen to see foreigners come to love our country, our culture and our language. What a great time it was! To us came students from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Arab states – young people with different traditions, different religions and different languages. We became for them not only teachers, but also friends, sisters, and then after many years like their mothers.
Model for the future of the world
Let’s go back to the early years of the University. Imagine a future model of the world – a multi-ethnic society where Catholics lived together with Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus, white, black and yellow. We did not even notice the difference! Brazilian Carnival was a celebration for all of us, as were Indian, Arabic or African holidays. And the young people, who came from 105 countries, celebrated our Soviet holiday with the same interest and pleasure as they celebrated their own. We all had the respect and love for each other and, of course, for the Russian language.
One of the favorite events for our students was called “We speak and sing in Russian.” Together we prepare for each event, often ending with a rehearsal very late. And then all of us, teachers and students were happy – how much humor and fun was at these gatherings. And even now, after 50 years, this old tradition continues at the University.
Last year, was a great anniversary evening at the Kremlin, attended by very important guests. Many of our old students were there. They had become scientists and academics, lawyers and doctors, engineers and agronomists. Some of our first students are now well-known politicians and members of government in their countries. And just think! They all spoke perfect Russian. It is very difficult to put into words what we felt then.
Difficulties, joys and victories…
A long time ago, it’s frightening to think, half a century ago, it was hard to imagine that we could teach our students such a complex and interesting language. What should be done? Where to start? We started to work, forgetting about our young husbands and small children. The first joy – yes, they already understand and speak a little in Russian. And the first disappointment – the terrible six cases, the types of verbs, verbs of motion, etc. How to explain it all and make lessons productive and not boring? I remember our sleepless nights when we could think only of the Russian language and our students. Finally, the first fruits of our collective work. I can proudly say that we managed to create a new methodology, textbooks, and various educational materials to help foreigners learn this difficult language.
I will never forget some funny episodes from his university life – and there were so many! My first group of physics students from India. I was 22 and they were 23 – 25. I explain something. It is very trying for them to understand me. I asked: “Do you understand?”. They shake their heads. I explain again, the second, third time. They shake their heads again, looking at me with his intelligent eyes. And finally, I understood, that this gesture (shaking heads) means: “Yes, of course, everything is clear!”. How often then we laughed together, remembering that! The first group – this is my first love. All of my students (there were five) after a few years, spoke in Russian as if it were their native language. They all became well-known specialists in their respective countries.
I remember another other funny episode. It happened when my son was two and a half years old. One of the students from Africa (his name Isao) asked my son: “Are you afraid of me?”, and heard in response: “Why should I be afraid of you?”. “Because I’m black”, answered Isao. “Are you afraid of me?” – Asked little Pavlik. “Of course not – Isao surprised – why should I be afraid of you?”. “Because I’m white!” – Pavlik said. What a joy it was in the eyes of Isao. Then this story was told among the Africans for many years. And my son, who was born together with the University of Peoples’ Friendship, forever remained an internationalist.
I can talk endlessly about our favorite students. But back to the hero of our story – the Russian language. Since Russian language was taught in all the countries of Eastern Europe, we were often sent there, so we could help the teachers of Russian language in these countries. Every summer, one month I worked in one of these countries. I met wonderful interesting people.
The Three British “Musketeers”
A few years later I was invited to teach Russian language at a university in England where I came to live for two years. About this period of my life, I can write a single novel – so many bright and wonderful things have happened in that time.
When I started working there, I was invited to conduct seminars on novels by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. In the Soviet Union his books were banned, so I could not have read them before. Therefore, I had to read Solzhenitsyn’s at night and learned a lot of new things about my country.
Of course, I was not easy to live and work in England without my husband and son. At that time, it was not possible to invite a family there. Yes, it was difficult, but very interesting! I am grateful to all my colleagues, friends and, of course, the students for their excellent attitude towards me.
I remember the farewell party. The next day I’m going away forever from England. Everyone is very sad. I go back to my apartment at three o’clock in the morning. I opened the door and start to cry: the whole apartment – floors, tables, bed – all covered with flowers. A few minutes later there are three of my students (I called them the Three Musketeers), excited and happy. Together we start to cry and laugh. Is it possible to forget this?
After graduating from the University one of them, Chris, was appointed at a very prestigious and important work thanks to his excellent knowledge of Russian. A few years later he came to Moscow, where he lived for 17 years, working as the president of a large company. A second British student, his name is Patrick, became a rector of an English university and professor of Russian language. A third, Stephen – known London banker. Maybe someday I’ll write a great story about my life in England and my English friends.
Russian language in space
Today, when the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight, I remember with what interest we have taught Russian language to American astronauts, who were preparing to fly into space together with Soviet cosmonauts. It was a very important task. While in space, they should have a good understanding of each other.
In 1989, the University and the Ministry of Education sent me to work in China. I taught Russian language at Peking National University. My students were Chinese scientists of different specialties, who were preparing to go to the USSR for scientific work. It was a completely different country with different culture, and I was already an experienced teacher. Again, new difficulties, new methods, joys and sorrows. Then finally the victory as they were able to overcome the difficulties of our Russian language. I had great colleagues – teachers of Chinese, some of whom have studied language in the USSR. In Beijing, I have friends that I will always remember. Interestingly, I went to China from the Soviet Union, and three years later, I returned to the new Russia.
Life goes on!
I thought that when I leave the University and become a pensioner, I’ll start a new life – I will have plenty of free time, and I can go to museums and theaters, concerts and exhibitions. Enough of teaching Russian language! But it turned out that I just cannot live without it. Without teaching Russian Language, I’m starting to slowly die. Russian language – that is my life and my love. Very soon I began to teach foreign diplomats and businessmen from different countries: Japan, England, India, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Finland and France. And again a new experience – from the literary and scientific language to business and politics. The new technique, individual work with each, which requires very thorough preparation. How exciting it! Again I sincerely love my “boys” and “girls” who are well-known politicians and businessmen. I rejoice with them in their success in work and in studying the Russian language.
Teaching Russian language – that is happiness
I can say that I am a very happy person. I have a wonderful family and a favorite work, it is even uncomfortable to call it work – because I’m getting such pleasure from it.
I go to visit friends in different countries, and everywhere I am asked to read poetry or prose in Russian. I have read Pushkin and Tolstoy in the heart of Paris, on Trafalgar Square in London and in the snowy mountains of Finland. And to my Norwegian friends on the beach in southern Norway, where I spent hours reading them Lermontov and Bulgakov, Pushkin and Chekhov. Is this not happiness? I love all my students and am infinitely grateful to them. They will always live in my heart. I continue with the same enthusiasm to teach the Russian language. I hope that until the last minute of my life, I will be continue to be surprised at the beauty and uniqueness of the Russian language. I often think how wonderful fate has been! I was born in a beautiful country, and Russian language – this is my native language.
Listen to a couple of sentences from this Russian story by clicking the Play Now > button below.
Here are a few examples of Russian grammar in this story.
глаголы “казалось” и “оказалось”
… мне казалось, что …
… но оказалось, что …
и глаголы “начинать – начать” + imperfective infinitive
… я начинаю умирать …
… я начала преподавать …
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This story in Russian language for foreigners will help you to drastically improve your Russian pronunciation and intonation. If you are a complete beginner who just started out speaking Russian, it will make you get a feeling for the beautiful Russian language and its musical variations. Even a fluent or native Russian speaker can enjoy the interesting story.
Listen to the recording and read the text in the PDF-document. Listening while speaking Russian, is one of the best ways to surprise your surroundings with the fast improvement of your Russian language.