Myths vs Reality

How often do you come across myths? I’m not talking about ancient stories that explain unfamiliar natural phenomena or teach us something — for example, the ancient Greek myths of Prometheus, Heracles or Perseus. Rather, I’m talking about fancies that generate dubious notions of any activity without their confirmation in practice — for instance, myths concerning what helps children to learn Russian quicker.

In life, I often encounter different parents’ views that I’d like to comment on and dispel from the perspective of teaching experience. In the article, I consider the four most widespread myths.

Myth #1: Language can be learned by watching cartoons.

If you read a “Cartoons” article, then you remember that cartoon level should match language level. I also draw attention to the fact that we use cartoons only as an additional assignment. Before watching it, we are to drill all unfamiliar words and phrases so that children can hear them in speech.

Myth #2: Speaking Russian with a child will make him speak it, too.

Imagine that you came to Norway and need to ask the way to the hotel. You see the first local man, approach him and ask. You expect to hear the answer in English, but he starts talking Norwegian. Will you understand him? I don’t think so. The situation will be the same if you suddenly start speaking Russian with your child. Shifting sharply from one language to another may evoke embarrassment and stress; that’s why it’s better to do it gradually. For instance, start with separate words and then add phrases. When the child gets used to how the language sounds, you can try to make sentences out of familiar words. Believe me, if your child comprehends you a little bit, he will be interested in learning language.

Myth #3: Learning poems by heart and reading Russian literature help to master language rapidly.

You should understand that the language of Russian writers and poets is replete with words and expressions. If the child is not acquainted with them, he won’t understand the content. Certainly, you can read masterpieces of Russian literature; but without understanding, it will be in vain. You can begin by reading adapted tales that correspond to the interests of children. Later on, as you master the language, you can read the same tales but at an upper level — the higher the level, the more details you know and the more fascinating the process is.

Myth #4: Knowledge of the rules doesn’t ensure a correct speech.

There is no guarantee that if you learn the rules, you will speak without mistakes. Why? Because at the moment of speech, we don’t have time to recall the right rule. That’s why we need to make the pronunciation of words and phrases automatic. You can read how to do this in the “Introducing Language to Speech” article.

To sum up, it’s a private matter to believe or disbelieve myths — but please, don’t take everything you read or hear at face value. You can always check information in professional groups or dedicated forums.

As they say, trust but verify. All the best!

Soroka. Russian language for children

One thought on “Myths vs Reality

  1. Thank you for an interesting article. Just wanted to share that I learned Russian entirely by watching TV shows from a young age. I grew up in Lithuania during the USSR times and all the TV shows were in Russian at that time. I still remember the excitement and amazement I felt as a child when I realized I could understand most of what I was hearing. Even though I could understand really well, I didn’t start speaking Russian until my early twenties, but now am fluent!

    However, I spent 10+ years officially learning English and German and haven’t reached the same level of fluency. I think early exposure is key, even if it is just from music and TV.

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