Monday, April 28, 2008

The Russian Word for Goose

I thought that my Unplugged post this week would be about the bird's nest outside of our kitchen window.

But we have yet to see any actual birds near the nest, so I am going to talk about linguistics instead.

I've wanted to reintroduce the Russian language in our home, but haven't decided quite how to do it. Although I can speak and read Russian proficiently, I am nowhere near fluent enough for the kids to learn "natively." I have also been reticent to use Russian text because of the similarity (and therefore confusability) of the alphabets.

Agent 002 gave usthe kickstart that we needed.

For the past few weeks, he has been pulling Russian books off of the shelf, demanding that I read them. Never being a mom to refuse the opportunity to read to the kids, I have obliged willingly each time. His favorite story is Колубок, a Russian language version of The Gingerbread Man with a puffy round pastry in place of the man made of cookie.

Given this new-found interest in Russian language books, I decided to pull out some of our Russian picture books.

Inspired by this week's Unplugged theme, we started with the book about birds -- Птицы.

Agent 002 echoed each words as I read it, except without my Yankee accent. I knew that the Russian phonemes would still be accessible to him, but I did not know that he would be able to pronounce words correctly even without a proper model. Mind you, he had no idea what the words meant, but they rolled off his tongue like it was his native language.*

Agent 004, on the other hand, had a very difficult time pronouncing multiple consonants together. Птица sounded more like "puh-pizza" than "ptitsa." But she sure had fun trying!

It was her, however, that was fascinated to learn the Russian word for familiar birds. Here is what she learned:

  • птица (ptitsa) - bird
  • утка (ootka) - duck
  • петух (petookh) - rooster
  • индейка (indeika) - turkey
  • гусь (goose) - goose
I still don't know where we are going with this, but I am glad that we are doing something. I will keep these books in the reading basket, and see if anyone wants me to read any more.

*I guess it is, in fact his native language, although his English vocabulary was better than his Russian ever was by the time he had been with us six months. And it really did surprise me to hear him speak that clearly.


Kate in NJ said...


Chrissy said...

I love it! What a great way to introduce another language...start reading a few books. Isn't it awesome how early we start building our foundation for language? That's so cool that 002 still has retained a part of his heritage.

Michie said...

That's really cool that you were able to expose them to a different language and work it into the bird theme!

Anonymous said...

How can I get my own copies of those picture books?

Seriously, I have had very little success in finding anything for a preschooler in Russian and this would be wonderful. Princess only knows English but my husband and his family are from the former USSR. She has 2 great-grandmothers that only know Russian. It has been frustrating for me over the years dealing with this language barrier and I've taken it upon myself to learn enough vocabulary to follow a conversation. But now that Princess is getting older I can see her wanting to talk to these women, her family but she can't.

Any resources you can point me to would be greatly appreciated.

reprehriestless warillever said...


I purchased these books in Russia, but I have ordered (several years ago) children's books from

I'll poke around and see what else I can come up with for resources at a preschool level.

Pam said...

That is really neat the way you are exposing her to Russian.

Heather said...

That is so neat. I am going to have to share this with Sam. He loves learning all of these new things. thanks.

Heather said...

That is wonderful that you are exposing the kids to Russian, I have to do more with the Spanish that I'd like the kids to learn. I of course only speak English so its tough!

Anonymous said...

How interesting that your son has retained his ability to pronunciate! How old was he when he came home from Russia?

This was a very interesting bird project.

By the way, Ebay might be a good source for Russian books. I have bought a lot of children's books in French from Ebay. I just haven't been very good about trying to read them to my children! Your experience is very inspiring though.