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Я понимаю русский
Thursday, June 01, 2006
With all the time we've got before we actually travel to Russia (which believe me is going to be considerable), I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn Russian.

I did some research (I know what a surprise, me do research) and decided to get the Pimsleur program. It's all on CDs and you learn language the way everyone really does: verbally. There's three volumes and each one contains 30 lessons which are on 15 CDs (so all three sets are 45 CDs). Yep, this is some serious Rous-key (roll the "r" and that's approximately how Russian is pronounced in Russian). And let me tell you, they are pretty expensive. Each set costs about $180 on eBay.

I take the CDs and import them onto my iPod. It's great because on the iPod I can pause, rewind a bit if I want to go over part of the lesson again, whatever. Learning Russian is pretty hard but I definitely feel I'm getting better. The first lesson I had to go over like four times. With lesson two I could tell I was really getting it after just my second review.

Anyway, once we're in Russia I really wanted to be able to do more than just ask where's the bathroom. My ultimate goal is to be able to talk to the caregivers at the baby home and answer some of the questions I'll be asked by the judge in court. We will have a translator with us while there of course, but I think it will be cool to be able to speak as much as possible. I also think it will be well received by the Russians we meet.

So far I'm working on lesson three and can say things like "I understand a little Russian, but not very well". Which always cracks me up when I say it because I remember a funny scene in one of my favorite movies, Top Secret (from the guys that did movie Airplane, btw). The lead actor, Val Kilmer, is sitting with a girl in a restaurant in Germany and the waiter comes over and starts speaking German. Val Kilmer says, "I'm sorry I don't understand German" and the girl says, "I know a little German. He's sitting over there." And a German midget stands up and waves at them.

Oh and by the way, the title says "I understand Russian."
posted by Steveg @ 9:49 PM  
  • At 7:53 PM, Blogger Lisa said…

    Hi Steve, I think it is great that you are learning Russian. I studied Russian for two years at Stanford (continuing ed aka night school); one year before and one year after my first Russian adoption (out of two).

    I wanted to make sure you know that, by Russian law, you are allowed a 'statement' at the end of your adoption court hearing. I wrote and studied a speech that I wanted to say for the court record and the judge. It is a wonderful part of family lore now, including how smart and beautiful my daughter(s) are, and how my whole family and circle of friends welcome them. Just have your translator in Russia know that you want to do this. One funny aspect, I had my teacher in the US (who was actually Polish) check what I wrote for grammatical errors. In Russia, I asked my translator (adoption #1) to check for cultural issues. One thing I planned to say was that "together we make a perfect family" and she told me that I might want to change that to "wonderful family" since Russians don't actually believe in perfection. Well, I kept otleechnaya (perfect). During my second adoption, the first question from the (same) judge was how well daughter #1 and I had bonded, and in English I said, "Fantastic!" and my translator says to the judge, "Otleechnee! (perfect). I just loved it.

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I'm Steve and this is my wife Stefanie. This is our story, mostly seen through my eyes, of the journey to create our family by adopting a child from Russia.

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