Learn Russian on Skype with the elderly native speakers

If you’re learning a foreign language, I’m sure that at least once you wondered how long would it take to speak fluently or to understand all the different shades of meaning typical of each language. And especially if you’re studying Russian you have probably already thought that it would be much easier if you had the chance to improve your skills with a native speaker every time you want. Except for who have Russian friends in their native country and can practice every day (lucky you!) or can afford many courses abroad, for the rest of us, poor students, apparently there’s no easy system to learn more everyday Russian. Or maybe there’s and it is called Lingualink of Generations (“Язык поколений”). I’m talking about an interesting online project that will be launched in September and that would be really useful for students who want to have real conversations in Russian from the comfort of their own homes. You will have the possibility to speak with native Russians and know more about their culture just using your Skype account.

“But with whom will we speak Russian?”

That’s the most interesting part of the project. You will have the chance to get to know one of the Russian babuskhi or deduskhi (grandparents) who has decided to subscribe to this program and he/she will be your partner during the entire program. This is not only an exclusive opportunity to learn how to speak in a “Russian” manner, but it is also an easy system to hear first-hand histories from people who grew up in the Soviet Union. Therefore, this type of communication also benefits Russian seniors because it solves a very serious social problem, loneliness among the elderly, using contemporary technologies. The students involved in this project will not review grammatical structures or Russian verbs of motion, but they will have the chance to hear how people spend time with -30 °C outside, what kind of plate they usually prepare for Christmas or what was the life like in the Soviet Union. According to the creator of this project, it will be easy to find pensioners interested about subscribing to the program because many of them are aware that even during the old age it is possible to do a lot of activities. Indeed, nowadays many “grandparents” travel a lot and always want to start something new. You may have the possibility for example to know ex-teachers or cultured people and treasure their advices. It will be as if you have your own Russian grandmother for a while!

On the official website it is possible to obtain further information and subscribe to the program. This project has already won its first prize: the 2016 KlvO Award. The executive director of the project has already received 15 applications from English, French, American, Chinese and Thai students and he wants to increase the program up to 30 couples by the end of the year.

As I’m going back to Italy in a few weeks, I think that I will totally consider this option in the future. It will certainly help me speaking more fluently and it will also remind me of my first great experience in Russia. And you? Are you ready to razgovarivat’ (talk) with your own babushka?

Lara Malacarne

Posted by Lara Malacarne

Hello! I am Lara and I'll be interning until the end of August at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg, writing about this wonderful city and the local culture.

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