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Всем привет! There’s a new Russian blogger in town. My name is Pat, and I am proud to introduce myself as Transparent Language’s new Russian Language blogger! This opportunity to contribute to one of the most innovative, effective language-learning systems ever created is an honor. I am poised to give readers the best my knowledge, experience, and background can offer their Russian-learning journey.
I’m an American born in Wilmington, Delaware, but grew up mostly in Chester County, Pennsylvania, which is a rural area about an hour west of Philadelphia. “Philly”, as we call it, is the fifth-largest city in the US and was actually the country’s first capital! It’s also where I attended college, at the University of Pennsylvania, studying linguistics. Having just graduated in May, I’m entering an MA program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies this fall at Stanford University. After I complete that year-long program, I hope to secure a fellowship to travel to Russia or Central Asia (during which time I look forward to continuing to blog!) I also taught Russian for a year at International House Philadelphia, a vibrant intercultural community in West Philly. Teaching imparted to me a great deal about how best to present new information, how to overcome the challenges of learning Russian, and how to keep students motivated. I am confident these lessons will translate well into my blogging for Transparent.
Among the most exciting reasons I can cite for choosing to join Transparent Language are the company’s commitment to helping the US government master critical languages, its support of endangered language communities, and its advancements in remote teaching. My hope is that my articles serve as a gateway for readers to explore Transparent’s software for learning Russian, which they can use to help build upon the valuable knowledge they gain from this blog.
I also admire the “get serious” mantra of Transparent. It appeals not only to experienced language-learners like me, but also to new language-learners who are committed to improving their professional, academic, or personal lives through language study. There are too many companies that downplay the complexity of the language-learning process and what it demands. Transparent realizes the immense potential of technology to transform the language landscape, and I as a linguist commend them for recognizing what science can contribute to language learning.
I began learning Russian five years ago, a time at which I never could’ve dreamt how far a study of the language would take me. Though I’d now consider myself a language-learning fanatic, I was somewhat of a “late-bloomer” when it comes to studying languages; I have studied German from the 7th grade on, but didn’t really become committed to building fluency until my first year of college. Around the time I began taking immersive German history and culture courses that first year at Lehigh University, my first college, I also became interested in studying Russian. My basis for studying Russian was my interest in Russia-US relations, especially during the Cold War. I was also fascinated by Soviet Union’s role in World War II and the profound effects of that conflict on the Russian people. In addition to that, I found both the vast geography of the country as well as the lifestyles of its diverse peoples mystifying. From a linguistic perspective, I found Russian beautifully complex, challenging for an English speaker but simple in its own way.
In the winter of 2012 was when I first began studying Russian, deciding to take a stab at the language after bingeing on Cold War documentaries in my dorm room. I found a channel on YouTube called “Russian World”, which was a 90’s Dallas high school course. While Russian World was a great start to my learning, I craved contact with native Russian speakers, so I registered on Interpals, a social networking site for language learning. I also joined an intermediate class (skipping the beginner year) just to be able to interact with a native-speaker. I will never forget the thrill and marvel of hearing my teacher, Olga, speak Russian right in front of me for the first time. Around that period, I began learning Turkish as well. I also wanted to find more sophisticated online resources for self-teaching, which led me to Transparent Language.
Once I transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, I became completely self-taught in Russian and focused my linguistics research on the language. I also did extensive research on language-learning more generally, publishing a piece on the role of motivation in language learning.
My mind is buzzing with ideas for the blog. While I have focused on vocabulary in past posts and will continue to provide word-related pieces in the future, I also want to discuss interesting aspects of Russian grammar, as well as expand into areas of Russian culture, history, and geography. Still, the staple of my blogging has probably been presenting vocabulary in the context of Russian life, which is a trend I plan to continue, though I am definitely open to feedback from readers. In terms of providing incredibly useful and straightforward information, Maria’s recent post about the difference between “для” and “за” is a perfect example of the quality of post I want to create going forward.
I would have to say that I’m most excited about providing readers with the insights and lessons that I wish I had known when I was a beginning or even intermediate learner. I feel as though I made so many mistakes at the start of my learning, or that there are things I should’ve known that I learned much too late. In other words, I want to make the road easier to travel for those coming after me.