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I am learning two foreign languages at the same time. Well, not exactly at the same time. I started with Afrikaans over seven months ago, and I’m using Pimsleur Russian just this month. The Russian is coming along very slowly. Not because it’s particularly difficult, just because I’m lazy. The Pimsleur comes in about 25 minute doses, which is just compact enough to tackle per sitting. I should but I don’t study it daily.

The Pimsleur site says that if I know about 80% of the material in the current lesson, it’s okay to move onto the next lesson. Otherwise review this lesson again. I was stuck on Lesson 1 thinking I had to master it, but I forged into Lesson 2, which repeats much of Lesson 1. Then it was onto Lesson Three and Four. It’s like eating chips. I could not stop.

For a day, I sidetracked at looking into Cyrillic , so that I might read the words I was pronouncing. Once I got used to seeing the different types of letters, it didn’t seem too hard to read, but the writing of the letters is intimidating.

Afrikaans is relatively easy, given the relationship of English to Dutch. Russian is as far a language as I can imagine and is for me, rote memorization. But Pimsleur makes it amazingly painless. This is an excellent system of interval teaching. The first few lessons were straightforward, “excuse me, do you speak English.”

Then there’s a bit that had me cracking up, toward Lesson Three. The narrator says “tell her you understand Russian”. I say it in Russian. The Narrator says “but you’d better add ‘just a little.” I say that too, in Russian. Finally he says “and ‘not very well.'”. I don’t know why this made me laugh, but it seemed like a twist of humor they inadvertently injected in what was otherwise a dry dialogue.

Also, at this point, I was getting a touch of mental fatigue, and instead of Russian, I answered back automatically in Afrikaans. “but you’d better add ‘just a little'” To which I answered “net ‘n bietjie.” The mind is a terrrible thing to waste.

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