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Learning Russian with Heart: An Interview with ICLS' Inspiring Teacher, Anna

Did you know that our Russian classes at the International Center for Language Studies (ICLS) are consistently packed and boast the highest retention rate? The secret might lie in the passionate instructor behind them! Today, we meet Anna Pechnikova, the mastermind who makes learning Russian an engaging and rewarding experience. Our social media manager, Justin, sat down with Anna for a one-on-one interview to delve deeper into her unique teaching methodology, captivating style, and the infectious passion that fuels her connection with students. 

Justin: Hello, Anna. It's time our audience learned more about you. Would you mind telling us about your role here at ICLS? 

Anna: Hello, Justin. Thank you for having me; it's my pleasure. I'm Anna Pechnikova, a linguist; teaching languages has always been my passion. It all began in high school, where I volunteered as a language teacher at Sunday school and secondary school. During the 90s, there was a teacher shortage, so they hired student volunteers like me. It quickly became apparent that teaching languages was what I wanted to do. 

Justin: Wow, that makes perfect sense! Your name has been highly praised around the school for your exceptional Russian language teaching skills. My question is, what's your secret to success with your students? 

Anna: I don't think there's a single secret. However, with some students and groups, there's a natural chemistry; it takes more effort than others. I'm fortunate to have a strong chemistry with many motivated, bright ICLS students who know what they want from the class. They come in motivated and with a clear goal. Some are learning for the joy of it, while others are learning for a job. Ultimately, the goal is to succeed and see the language as a tool, an instrument they can use and explore. 

Justin: What are your methods of teaching? And how can new teachers implement that into their teaching style? 

Anna: It all starts with listening to the student's needs. During the first class, I asked them, "Why are you here?" and "What are your goals?" Many students will answer that they want to learn to speak because they have Russian-speaking partners or family or are interested in engaging with literature or ballet. Once you hear their needs, the ICLS syllabi allow for great flexibility. They're designed to enable teachers to adjust the curriculum based on student needs. It's all about tailoring the process to what students want to achieve. 

Justin: What drives you to be a great Russian teacher for your students? 

Anna: Seeing my students progress and succeed is the greatest pleasure I receive from the process. Especially at the beginner and intermediate levels, it's incredibly rewarding to see students develop their speaking skills and construct sentences. Russian requires a lot of sentence structure, even for simple gestures. With Russian, you have to think about the verb form, the conjugated form, the cases, the endings, and whether the word's gender is animate or inanimate. Seeing students at their own pace begin to process all of this and start using their sentences gives me a lot of encouragement to keep on working. 

Justin: My last question is: What advice would you provide to teachers who are new to the field? 

Anna: Use more authentic materials, even from the very beginning. Start introducing cartoons with Russian sentences. Play authentic film clips. Introduce the culture of the target language. Show them what they can do with the language. Language is not just about textbooks. 

Justin: Any last words of encouragement? 

Anna: Absolutely! Study languages! Every language is a key that unlocks many doors. Think of it like a bank. The more effort and time you invest, the richer the rewards you'll reap. Be prepared to work hard, but remember, it's a pleasurable journey. It's exciting and truly broadens your horizons. 

Are you ready to begin your language-learning journey? Don't hesitate, start today! Click the link to learn more about all of the languages that we offer.

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