OK children, now that we are all settled down, it's time to learn Russian. No talking at the back...
I'm absolutely serious. With a bit of creative thinking and by using a variety of free internet resources, you can pick up a good command of the Russian language in 1-2 years without breaking too much of a sweat, or ever parting company with a single pound note, or entering a classroom of any kind.
- functioning brain.Chances are that if you are able to read this far without glazing over and needing to check FB, it is up to the task. Mensa IQ not required. Don't worry, if you are starting to glaze and are reaching for the youtubes - they have lolcats in Russia too, you will be relieved to hear!
- ability to memorise stuff.Rote. Learning. Works. Sorry. Look, this is a prerequisite, I'm afraid. That doesn't mean that if you don't have it you should stop. It will likely just add a couple of years, during which time you'll learn something even more awesome - the ability to remember stuff! Chances are you can already remember your name, the words to God Save The Queen, any number of dreadful pop songs, half a dozen film quotes, Monty Python Sketches, jokes (OK, they are hard to remember...), football players names, and so on. All the techniques I list here can be used to learn things in your own native language. You just need to be bothered to do it...
- commitment.You have to want to do it. If you just want to impress hot Russian chicks with a few phrases and then let your bodies do the talking, be honest with yourself and do just that. A Google search for "common Russian phrases" will get you everything you need - this post isn't for you. OTOH, if you have reached the end of the Internet and need some other internets to read, then Russian internets might provide a pleasant diversion from the endless pointing and shrieking in the Anglosphere. If you can commit to an hour or two most days, either during work breaks or evenings, doing all of the things you would normally do - listening to music, watching films, reading books, poems, etc, but in Russian, you will be amazed at how quickly a garbled stream of interminable consonants and alien looking letters becomes vaguely recognisable words, which then become almost comprehensible. Don't expect too much, allow your subconscious to do the work...
- interestIt could be that you already have an interest, business or personal, that you want to pursue. Or could be that, like me, you just have a vague interest in the music and culture that you wish to explore. Regardless, there are plenty of things that will no doubt grab your attention if you have any interests in anything at all
- good lateral thinking / boredom avoidance strategies.
Chances are that modern life has already prepared you for this, with the thin gruel of aesthetic, intellectual, moral, mental and spiritual pablum that it attempts to force feed you on a daily basis. Unless, that is, you have decided to join the various hierarchies and classes of the perpetually outraged and embrace SJW-hood, in which case chances are you don't value a thing as bourgeois as genuine intellectual pursuits anyway...
In case you haven't guessed, this isn't an all inclusive, comprehensive education system that places a high value on things like diversity or inclusiveness, but rather an elite pursuit based on rather antiquated values of dedication and hard work. The good news is that simply knowing that it is possible to immerse yourself in a progressively more understandable series of works of various kinds will probably be enough to inspire a good number of people put off by the previous paucity of material between the empty promises of the simplistic "learn to speak Russian (I.e. order a beer) in 21 days" type courses and the dry as bones course books that typically would have to be accompanied by classroom hand-holding by a tutor to maintain the will to live.
Truth is, you have already learned one language already, so the apparatus is there. The difficulty comes in adapting those tools to learning an entire new language. I have disproved the commonly held assumption that you need to "immerse" yourself in a culture to learn its language - going to live there, by learning the Russian language in around 18 months in my spare time. The other commonly held myth is that children, or adolescents learn faster. For example, whilst I was amazed at how quickly my two year old learned to sing the periodic table of elements song by Tom Lehrer, but then again, it wasn't quicker than me! She undoubtedly has superior recall memory, but I had visual help, being able to read the text on a piece of paper, over and over. She has a much more creative imagination, but I have better associative memory functions.
The point I'm trying to across is that children learn language in a different way - by taking advantage of the evolutionary mechanism that has us classify certain types of behaviour "cute" when done by children that would otherwise be annoying or insulting when done by an adult; behaviours such as mimicking and endlessly repetition, for example. Once you accept that you will likely not have any rewarding interaction in your chosen language with another person for a year or so, you will be able to get on with the enjoyable task of learning without the need for all the attention seeking clowning about or preening that you would likely end up doing if you were to try to learning by the same methods children use.
Hopefully this inspires a few people to realise that it can be done. I will publish posts periodically on tips for learning foreign languages, with an emphasis on Russian.
(By the way - I lied. I have a total plan to stop the #ImminentFinancialCollapse. Watch this space for details; I will probably need some help along the way...)