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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Russian is not an EU language

Russian is worthwile studying because it is one of the 23 official EU languages, I read yesterday on one of these language school websites. Well, that is definitely not true.
TRUE: Russian is worthwile studying.
TRUE: there are currently 23 official European Union (EU) languages.
BUT: Russian is not one of these 23.

If you are now curious which languages are among the lucky 23, you can find them on

For those wondering: the languages mainly used internally by the EU institutions are English, French and German. So it is not the case that all internal documents are written in 23 languages.
But everything that is law or concerns the EU citizens directly, is translated in all 23 official languages. That is the language policy roughly explained. And I consider it fair, despite all the resources needed for this, because you should be able to find out about your rights and obligations in your own language. Not every citizen masters a second language.

On the webpages of the European Commission, you can find more details and the piece of legislation on which this language policy is based. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Show me the beauty!

While I was adding a book to my I can recommend page yesterday, I wondered why certain books or dvd's did not make it to my shortlist. I had a quick look at the unfortunate ones and concluded that a lot of them have in common that they focus on the dark side of Russia.

It is my impression that it is in - especially among (mostly male) correspondents, journalists, photographers - to show anything but the beauty of Russia.

I am certainly not going to plead that we should ignore the problems there are in Russia (as well as we shouldn't ignore the problems in any other country). I understand people do freeze or drink themselves to death, there is prostitution, maffia, a huge gap between the poor and the rich.

But showing only the poverty and misery doesn't give a correct image either. It leads to situations where people wonder why on earth I am interested in Russia as it is such a grey, cold, poor country. And isn't that a missed opportunity?

On the same square...


Friday, August 19, 2011

Deutsch Deutsch Deutsch - piece of cake
If this were Twitter, I wouldn't have the feeling I had to add anything to the title (and could go to bed now).
But this is a blog, so a few words...

I'm completely immersed in German. Hausaufgaben jeden Abend... I have been preparing my second oral presentation tonight. Next week we also have our final exam already.

There are definitely pro's about this concentrated way of learning a language (every morning for three weeks). My level is improving at lightning speed. I already watched a few good movies in German last week and I started reading a detective in German yesterday, all very doable.

Of course, it helps that German is so similar to my Dutch and it turns out that once you have learned a language before (I learnt German during secondary school), you don't forget it - you just have to find it back in your memory somewhere and then upgrade it.

When I think about how I struggle with Russian sometimes, this German course is like a piece of cake. It gives my selfconfidence a boost :-)

(Maybe I shouldn't say this before I have succeeded in the exam... the bear and the skin, you know... which makes me decide to go to bed now so that I can study tomorrow morning... so: Gute Nacht!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hip hip... 1st anniversary of 'The pleasure and pain of studying Russian'

One year ago, on 9 August 2010, I bravely posted my first little text on my brand new blog.

The goal then was to narrate about my 4th year Russian in evening school and whether I would make it, once more, also for that fourth year. I succeeded :-)

Mission accomplished. Will I archive/delete this blog?

 Nooooo.... In the meantime, I got the hang of writing for my own little blog. I enjoy it too much to stop.

The topic of this blog also broadened. We went to Saint Petersburg with our class for instance, which led to some extra posts. I also added these extra pages with links to related websites and with books, films, documentaries I enjoyed.

Last year, I also discovered some other interesting forums and blogs on the web. You find them under My blog list or on my page Also on the www. I am sure these lists will only grow in the future. Just as the whole process of learning a language is one of GROWTH!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Competition is tough, dear Russian

I had the intention to do some self-study Russian during my vacation. I have interesting material: another coursebook than the one we use (to compare), a course on CD (to improve my speaking skills), Russian easy reader books (to finally start reading a complete book in Russian; I would be utterly proud). But none of these plans materialised. Competition is tough. There was the Santa Montefiori novel during my holiday. And I did some other reading and dvd watching as well. You find the books and dvd's I enjoyed on my page I can recommend.... I am currently reading The Master and Margarita of Mikhail Bulgakov, very intriguing. And July is only about 4 weeks after all...
I love scanning covers...

My plans won't materialise in August either. Do you remember my flirting with the other language in February, when I prepared for the placement test of a German course? Well, the real cheating will start as of next Monday. For three weeks, I will have German classes every morning and the course ends with a test so I will really have to focus on German the coming weeks. Wish me good luck... (although, now that I am learning a language with 6 cases, I surely can handle one with only 4, right?)