Why learn Russian?

Russian is an international language, used in the post-Soviet space as a lingua franca. Russia has rich literature, and has demonstrated genius and excellence in science, music, dance, and many other fields. Perhaps this genius and striving for perfection is embodied in this performance by these two Russian acrobats. I apologize for the ad that starts it off. 

Learning English in China, the language gets in the way of the tests.

Do tests get in the way of language learning or does the language get in the way of passing the tests. Try reading this article from China Daily about English learning in China. Below is a sample of the dog’s breakfast that is language learning in China. What about just listening and reading and forgetting all this junk. 400 million people in China study English in this sytem, how many speak it?

 from the report…”However, English teaching is designed without coordination for elementary schools, secondary schools and postsecondary institutions. That makes the transition from one stage to the next difficult, especially for students with test-conscious teachers and obsolete textbooks.

College English teaching for non-English majors is divided into six progressive levels, known as College English Test (CET) Bands 1-6. Every non-English major must take 280 hours of English courses – roughly five hours a week for 17 weeks, a semester – to meet the requirements of the twice-yearly CET-4.

Students must pass that test, or risk being disqualified for graduation or a job with the many employers that require a CET-4 certificate. Test results remain the sole criterion of CET assessment.”

That is enough to discourage me from wanting to learn English.


Audiobooks galore from China.

I am just back from China and 20% of the weight in my suitcase consists of audiobook CDs that I bought there. History, philosophy, literature, lots!!, in Mandarin and Cantonese. Some even have the text on the CD. My Czech learning has been brought to a halt by the quality of these resources, and the stimulus of being in China for two weeks. More on all of this later.