Today one of my friends who is an English teacher in Moscow hosted a belated Thanksgiving party. I arrived to her flat to see she’d gone all out with preparations for food. Previously I’d thought that there wasn’t anything I missed about America as far as food because there are so many delicious things to eat here. But upon seeing a cooked turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, I immediately became a bit homesick for traditions and traditional foods.
Although we ended up eating very traditional food, the group of people that came together couldn’t have been less what I expected. I thought she might invite a bunch of fellow American teachers who would be interested in participating in a tradition that we all missed from home. Instead there was a group of Russians and a Japanese girl. So the evening was spent with Russians, speaking Russian, celebrating an American holiday. It was a great dynamic to be a part of.
One observation I made though was that when my friend was speaking Russian, she was able to communicate perfectly with the other Russians. She grew up speaking Russian and is pretty much fluent. Although she makes some minor grammar mistakes, the overall meaning is not impeded. In my opinion, that is real fluency! Using the language for what it was meant, getting your ideas across, understanding and being understood. That’s not to say that a certain level of grammar and pronunciation should not be involved, but I often find my desire to speak perfectly hindering how much I speak. If I don’t know how to say it 100%, then sometimes I don’t say it at all or find another way to say it. So my advice to all language learners (myself included) is not to be afraid of being perfect and just communicate! Besides, the more you speak, the more you will improve.