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Russian Summer in Switzerland

Max L.

Interpreter Student

До свида́ния (*insert expletive*) - those are the first Russian words I remember hearing. The protagonist in the action flick I was watching with my dad as a little kid let the bad guys know he’s not to be played messed with.

I've always had an affinity for the language, which sounds like my mother tongue German spoken backwards, and the incredibly vast country (I've always loved maps!). Russian is also what triggered my passion for language learning in the first place and ultimately ended up steering me into what is now my profession: interpreting. I studied French and English full-time for a year in Munich and decided to work in the francophone part of Switzerland during the summer at the world's biggest Jazz festival. During my three weeks in Montreux I lived in a tent on the close-by camping grounds. It was a perfect summer, right on the shores of Lac Léman, just around the corner of the massive Mont Blanc.

However, I wanted more and signed up for a Russian course at the Moscow Region State University in Moscow for the week immediately following the festival. There would be a placement test at the beginning of the three-week long summer school program and I needed to get beyond knowing merely the alphabet. Quickly.

This is when I discovered Glossika. As if it were a romance, I jumped into it on a gut feeling and was ready to see where this would lead me if I took it seriously. I followed the recommended schedule of repetition, dictation, recording and interpreting on a daily basis. It was the first thing I did every morning after going for a dive in the lake. It took me roughly 2 hours daily. I stuck to the regime for six weeks before leaving to Moscow, not having had a Russian conversation. I had supplemented my Glossika training with basic vocabulary lessons and an audio program I listened to on my walks to work. When the time for departure came I was confident in that I had learned a lot but was not sure how that knowledge would translate in practice.

As soon as we arrived I knew the focus had paid off. Not only could I understand the signs at the airport and on the way to the hotel but could also have a basic understanding of the incessant ramblings of the taxi driver that picked me and other students up from the airport. The placement test split the array of international students into three groups. To my delight I was put in the intermediate group with students who had been learning Russian for 1-2 years at university – after just a bit more than a month of using Glossika! What impressed me even more how my Russian skills skyrocketed when I continued my routine after having lived in Moscow for three weeks. This has been the most effective learning method for me yet, beyond tandem partners, spaced repetition systems and even university courses!

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