Friday, February 5, 2010

Getting from here to there... via Russian

I'm sure many of you are wondering why we still keep talking about learning Russian. We've been here for almost 16 months... and we still aren't fluent? That's right... far from it. Our language has been improving and we are pleased with our progress, but the more we learn the more we realize we have a long way to go still. So, here's what we're doing right now in our language studies:

Going how?
We are currently knee-deep in Глаголы движения (verbs of motion) in our language studies. Basically, verbs of motion are how you get around: whether by walking, running, driving, biking, swimming, flying, etc. It's a big switch for us English speakers because we can no longer simply say "I went to the store," we have to be specific and tell how we went, for example, "I ran to the store" or "I drove to the store."
And, it doesn't just stop there. We're also learning 12 prefixes to go with these specific verbs. Here are the prefixes:
в- - in
вы- - out
до- - as far as, reach
за- - drop in, stop by
об- - around
от- - away
пере- - across
под- - approach
при- - arrival
про- - through, pass
с- - down from
у- - from
So far, we've learned 11 out of these 12 prefixes. So if we want to say we went into the store, we know which prefix to use. If we want to say we walked to the post office, but stopped by the store, we know how to say that too. Our talking basically goes like this: "I.... (really long pause as we try to figure out how to say it all)... ran around the park." (Or through the park, or near the park, or away from the park, etc.) Most of the time, we come up with something, even if it's not perfect, but sometimes, it's just too much thinking and we abandon what were going to say and end our "I..." with "... nevermind!" :)
And it doesn't stop there either. For each verb, we still have to learn the six different ways to conjugate each verb in the present tense, plus the three different ways in past tense, plus the six different ways in the perfect tenses.
(I think I wrote that all right?!) Thankfully, our friends are patient people.

On a good day, we understand between 30-60% of conversation. It's a hard place to be... and a dangerous one. We understand quite a bit, but not being able to understand half of what they're saying means we miss a lot as well. We especially feel this when we're in a Bible study or discussion with someone. We think we understand what they're saying, but really, we're just doing our best to guess what their saying. Thankfully, we do our best to work as a team. That means after our conversations, we get together and put together what we understood to make sense of it. So far, it seems to be working... or at least we think it does! Either we are using our teamwork to make sense of it or we're all very creative. :)

Still Getting There...
But, here's the real lesson we're learning and most thankful for: it's not up to us. If it were, we'd all be in trouble and in the wrong line of work. We're learning to do what we can and then leave the rest up to God. I'd love to be able to say we've got that down at least, but... we don't. It's not always easy to leave it up to God. It's frustrating and we're still learning patience. So, like our verbs of motion, we're learning how to get to that point as well... via Russian.


Jenn said...

This is a great explanation!! We always know that there are language barriers when we go to different countries, but thanks for explaining the exact things that you are learning. I love to learn and reading about ya'll and all of your experiences just makes me want to jump in and learn something new, too!!
Keep it up. I'm sure that ya'll are doing SUPER!! :)

Rob H said...

Great post guys. And a big Аминь to everything in it!

Carol A said...

Everyone says English is a hard language to learn, but it sounds as if Russian has us beat to pieces! Hang in there--I'm sure you're actually doing very well!

Kris said...

Goodness! You make it sounds like it's hard or something. hehe. You guys are doing much better than I ever did with my Russian studies. Keep up the good work!

Alison said...

You guys are learning such a tough language. I think you're doing great. We'll pray for your language studies.

Melissa said...

I'm going to say a prayer for you right now!

Mike and Lucy said...

ANd you forgot that you have to choose if it was a fact or something regular you do, which changes the verb! Love ya. You are doing great!

Brandon Price said...

Oh I can't wait to study again! I love that language so much, as difficult as it is!

Love you guys, keep it up!