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Lingvist's employee of the month #3: July 2015

Every month, one of our team members will get their moment of fame on the Lingvist Blog. This allows you to get to know the Lingvist team better and discover who is helping you learn languages faster!

Summer often means holidays. But not for the Lingvist team.

While you’re out enjoying the weather (hopefully practising your language skills on the beach with the Lingvist mobile app), our team keeps working hard to make Lingvist better and add more languages for study.

A few days ago, we released our French course for Russian speakers, now available on Lingvist. It was therefore easy to pick our Employee of the Month for July: Lidia, who has been working round the clock to make this new course available!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Lidia. I am from Russia, more precisely from the Island of Sakhalin, where I lived for more than 10 years, as Chekhov did before me. Coincidence, you say? I don’t think so!

I joined Lingvist a few months ago as part of the linguists’ crew, and so far I have been working on the Russian–French module, now available! Before that, I was a teacher for a long time: I started by teaching French and English in Russia, then moved to Paris (where I live now) and taught Russian at the Sorbonne and at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilization (INALCO).

Lidia_EOTM.jpg

What was your motivation to start learning French in the first place?

My interest for the French language stems from my passion for 19th-century literature. This language has always sounded beautiful and mellifluous to my ears. The French influence on literature and philosophy has been substantial since the Age of Reason, and learning French gave me an opportunity to dive deeper into it. By the way, did you know that at that time, at the end of the 18th century, Russian people used to speak better French than Russian? Crazy, right?

As a local, can you give our users some advice on the best places to visit in France?

If you’re in France for the first time, you can’t say no to a visit to Paris. Start your trip with “Les Invalides”, one of the most beautiful places in Paris. It is mainly known for being the burial site for some of France’s war heroes, notably Napoléon Bonaparte. And because French and Russian history are often interconnected, you can then walk across a bridge called “Pont Alexandre III”, which commemorates a Russian Emperor!

As a Russian living in France, we can imagine you being a bit torn between the two cultures. Let’s have a quick test:

  • Red wine or vodka? Red wine, of course. Try some French cheese with a good bottle of red wine and you’ll understand!
  • Paris or Moscow? How can I compare the incomparable? Paris is not only beautiful but also quite small. That means you can get from one end of the city to another in 2 hours on foot and see so many wonderful things on the way, like the Champs-Élysées or the Eiffel Tower.
  • Hugo or Dostoyevsky? The Brothers Karamazov is one of my favorite books, so definitely Dostoyevsky!
  • Frog legs or caviar? Caviar – black or red – for breakfast. This is the Russian way!

What would be your main piece of advice for our Russian users who want to start learning French?

The most important piece of advice is: start learning now with Lingvist!

It is actually very easy for Russian people to start learning French because there are so many similar words in the two languages. People often think French is a very complicated language to learn, but I don’t think so. French grammar is not too difficult; the French actually use only 5 or 6 tenses out of a total 19, and you can even use the present tense to talk about the future by adding words like ‘tomorrow’ or ‘next month’. Piece of cake!

There are many stereotypes and clichés about both the French and the Russians. Do you think any of these are true?

  • The Russians are always drinking vodka: Unfortunately, this one is true. But it’s probably because Russia is always covered in snow. And that’s another cliché!
  • The French can’t speak English: Let’s be honest, the French people can speak English. However, their pronunciation is so bad that you can’t understand them anyway.
  • The French are always striking: 100% true. The French are addicted to strikes; probably to show that they are still a country of freedom.

Reading is an excellent way to practise a language. What book would you recommend to a French beginner?

It’s usually easier to start with a book that you’ve already read in your own language, allowing you to guess the meaning without constantly looking up the translation. For example, The Little Prince by Saint-Exupéry would be a good choice.

Any last words for our users?

We are constantly working to make Lingvist better and add new languages. After this latest Russian to French module, we have some exciting language pairs coming up, so stay tuned!