Friday, October 24, 2014

Learning Russian + Teaching English via WOOFS in St. Petersburg. Russia

Aliska is all saddled up and
ready to ride her horsey
Her doting and loving parents gaze upon their four year old Aliska with profound pride and love.  She's cute, confident, and quite mischievous, loving the opportunity to taunt and wind up the large playful dog who's paid her family a visit for the week,
I'll be sitting, minding my own business, and I'll feel a scratch on my arm or leg.
"Woof," the dog (probably a Labrador) softly acknowledges he's being harassed.
Aliska retreats for a moment, then sneaks up again, trying to incite her new friend to play "Woof! Woof! Woof!" cries out the poor dog. The large dog curls back into a ball on the floor, or goes back to eating from his dish, or continues chatting with his lovely hosts, leaving a gentle growl lingering in the air as a warning.
Once again, Aliska momentarily shies away, then attacks with more ferocity, tickling the dog mercilessly. "WOOF! WOOF! WOOOOOOFFFFFFFFFFF!!!" responds the agitated pup while tickling Aliska to her great delight for upwards of 30 seconds, before slowly withdrawing, leaving the little girl with a huge smile etched across her face.
Wait two minutes ... repeat. The pup might growl, but he clearly has no bite.

We get along famously, but as our primary communication is in woofs and laughter, we invent a new a new game to teach other our respective languages. Sitting across from one another, I hold up various objects. "Appelsin," I'll announce in Russian as I roll the fruit to Aliska. "Orange," she'll state after a moments reminder, as she tosses it back to me. Repeat numerous times then switch to new items ranging from balls (myatch), to stuffed rabbits, to apples (yablacko for those scoring at home.)
I'm proud to be teaching Aliska a proper language.

here is Aliska's and Richie's language learning game

Believe it or not, I benefit as well.
Few Russians speak English, so my learnings came in handy when we went to the grocery store and an employee casually approached asking if he could help. "I don't speak Russ-- wait a second. Aplelsin! Appelsin!  Appelsin!!" I cry out excitedly pointing to the oranges attracting the attention of the entire store wondering what retard could get so excited over fruit. Even at the age of four, Aliska's face matches the shade of the nearby beets from all the extra attention I brought us. What a proud moment.
And finally, might I thank Aliska for being so awesome, playful, and even occasionally thoughtful and kind (a slippery slope for most 4 year olds.) I had so much fun with you, and I know there's an excellent chance my you've forgotten my English lessons, so let me express how much I miss you in the one way I'm certain you'll understand: "WOOF! WOOF! WOOOOOOFFFFFFFFFFF!!!"

St. Peter, the horse dragging Aliska's carriage, then yours truly playing airplane with her. She demanded so many flights you'll excuse me for having got quite dizzy

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