Teacher Interview – Lyubov’
#meetourstaff continues! This week, I was introduced to Lyubov’, who has been with Liden & Denz for quite a long time. The interview was challenging to transcribe, as Lyubov’ speaks really quickly, but by patiently listening to my slowed-down recording a few times over, I managed to get it all down for you today. Enjoy!
Hello! My name is Esther.
Hello, Esther, my name is Lyubov’.
Nice to meet you! We will start with a few questions about you. Where are you from?
I’m from Petersburg.
And when did you become a teacher?
I finished university in ’95. At first I started working in a school, with children, but in ’96 I was already working with foreigners. My first students were musicians – students from South Korea, who would first learn Russian and then begin studying music in the Conservatory.
I started working in this school in 2004.
What makes Liden & Denz a good school, according to you?
To me, it seems like a school which never stays in one place, it always looks for new modern methods, uses a lot of technical tools, online lessons, we use AppleTV nowadays.. It is always a dynamic school: we place the accent on conversational language, and we integrate the communicative method with new, modern textbooks; also, we as much as possible listen to music, watch films – it’s a very creative atmosphere.
What do you like about your job?
I like to relate very different people, different cultures, different philosophies, different traditions of communication. It’s very interesting to me to see how my students build relationships among themselves in class, from different countries, different worlds, using Russian to make each other’s acquaintance and explain how they see the world; it’s a pleasure for me to help them make these connections in Russian.
Do you speak any other languages?
Oh, unfortunately, not very well. I studied German in school, but unfortunately there we didn’t use a communicative method, we would mostly read, translated papers, some articles… But I started learning English here.
Do you have any hobbies?
Well, actually right now not, because my second child was born recently, a little son.
Thanks. Well, so all my free time is spent with my child, so my hobbies are pretty much just children’s entertainment. We find where to spend time, somewhere to go, children’s clubs, theatres, new or not so new methods for the development for children, such as the Montessori [method], stuff like that.. That’s my world, right now. It’s very interesting. It’s my second time, actually – I already have a daughter of sixteen, and I already forgot, of course, how all that was. Now, once again, the world of children has opened to me.
Of course, it must be quite different now, too.
What’s your favorite dish?
Favorite dish? Well, my favorite drink is coffee – different types, from different places. As far as food goes, I guess at the moment I like different salads. Currently I eat less meat and fish, and I like to taste different new greens, fresh salads.
Are you vegetarian?
No, I eat meat but, simply, it seems to me a bit of a novelty compared to our tradition, because earlier our salads always had mayonnaise, they are heavy. Today there are more vegetables we didn’t have before, greens we didn’t have before, so I like these … experiments of today.
Your favorite film?
Well, I like the period of Soviet – call me old-fashioned – good Soviet films of Eldar Ryazanov, like Ironiya Sudby, Sluzhebny Roman, films you watch again with pleasure, at home and with students at class. I like the humor, the language – it’s a very rich language, that’s why I love to share these with my students.
I like Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago, I guess it’s my favorite novel.
What should new students know when coming to Saint Petersburg?
Or Russia? Well, it seems to me that many today leave their country, maybe, maybe I’m wrong, with a slight fear that Russia is a bit dangerous, strange, yes? And then when they arrive they all say the same thing, it’s not dangerous, it’s like any other big European city, nothing dangerous, so I guess the most important thing is to not be scared. Don’t be scared of not knowing the language, don’t be scared that there are strange people, or dangerous situations. Everything is quite normal, so one should be open, calm, here people help you out, you won’t get lost, everything will be fine.
Three “must-visit” places in the city?
I think, Ploshchad’ Isskusstv, it’s a beautiful complex, near here, with the Pushkin center. Of course, the Izaakevsky Cathedral and the garden around it, and.. the Peter Paul Fortress.
What’s the hardest part of learning Russian?
Depends on one’s level. For absolute beginners, probably the most difficult, first shock is the number of forms, right off the bat. Mine, yours, I have, my name, millions of forms and in the beginning it’s scary to see how it will be. Further on down the line, the verbs get to be very difficult – the aspects, verbs of motion, prefixes…
What’s the most effective way to learn Russian?
Of course, first of all: live in the country or city, second: don’t speak English.
Don’t expect that you will now get a translation, just don’t expect it. Start getting used to understanding everything in Russian alone, that’s the fastest way. I don’t speak English very well myself, and for some years I’ve been working only with absolute beginners, and I see the difference, now, with other groups. My students, already after the first week, on Friday, are already used to understanding me in Russian, because they get used to it from the first lesson, the first minute, and they are not psychologically nervous, they don’t expect a translation if they don’t understand. That doesn’t happen. You just have to be calm, later you will understand, just wait a little. In principle you get good results that way. I think it’s kind of a psychological problem, when we expect to be helped in our own language.
How can students continue learning on their own?
Online, and of course, reading – there are many books for all levels, from A1 to C3; watch TV, films…
Almost done. For our Petersburg students: any activities or places where you like to spend the time? Like a café or bookstore?
I myself really love Dom Knigi, to spend time, the café is pleasant, it’s a quiet place. I also like Biblioteka. [Also on Nevsky Prospekt]
Great. That’s all, thank you for your time.
Good luck! Bye-bye!
This interview is brought to you by Esther – intern and student at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg.