Of course, I wasn’t expecting the ancient generation to speak English. On the other hand, I was taking for granted that young students would be able to communicate with us. But for must of them, even saying « left » or « right » seemed to be an issue.
So, whenever I could, in a nicely way, I was asking Russians who know some English to tell me why nobody seems to know the language. And systematically, the answer has been:
« There is English at school but Russian students are lazy ».
A bit intrigued, I did my homework. Here are my findings
(If you are interested: http://pubs.sciepub.com/education/1/3/6/).
1° Indeed, Russians don’t speak English. Whereas 38% of Europeans speak English, only 5.5% of Russia’ population does.
2° English has been made mandatory, and teachers face substantial lack of students’ motivation.
3° Teachers demonstrate a distinct Russian accent when speaking English – due to objective reasons, such as lack of academic placement in foreign countries, limited communication with foreign peers, and strong influence of their native language. The students subsequently reproduce this accent.
4° Teachers behave formally in a classroom, using traditional textbooks, loading their students with homework, and the stressful atmosphere creates communication barriers between students.
A little bit like in France!
Yesterday though, I was having breakfast in a nice coffee shop and one of the waitresses was speaking English pretty well. She told me it’s because she watches US series a lot to improve her level… When there is a will there is a way?