Tuesday, May 21, 2013

No Native English Speakers in Russia

Watching Adventure Time on the train.
You know what I haven't heard in person for the past month?

A native speaker of English.

Wait! I did hear it. I heard it once for five minutes from the mouth of Mike de Seve. He was an American (or was he German?)  lecturer at a festival I was attending – he's been a writer for Beavis and Butthead (it's fun hearing Russians say that one with a Russian accent) and Sesame Street as well as a director for SNL back in '75. I didn't converse with him.

But, besides this lecturer, I haven't witnessed any Americans, that I know of. I haven't heard English without a sweet-Russian/Norwegian/German/Ukrainian accent to accompany it.

It's rare that I find someone that I can speak at a fluent rate with and, when I Skype back home to check on Grandma, I find myself still carrying on the speech patterns I use here in Russia.

I'm used to talking to people who don't have English as their second language. I know it's helpful to them when I separate my words and carefully choose my words, avoiding slang and uncommon idioms. More than one person has remarked that it's easier to speak to me than most native English speakers. I figure that it will help them progress with English further if they can understand all of what I say as their mind transitions to thinking in English. It's better for them to be able to understand and comprehend than for me to speak rapidly.

This is not, by any means, a complaint and a statement that I miss speaking fluent English. If I needed that, I could go back to America. I don't mind at all. In fact, I'm grateful there are people that speak my language and I do not take that for granted.

Sometimes I'm frustrated that I haven't learned Russian, yet (will I ever?). So far, I've been able to communicate everything I've needed to say, whether by acting it out, using the German language, a phrase book, or the very little broken Russian I've learned. I'm starting to learn the phrases that people most frequently used with a young woman American travelling alone.

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