Let me tell you about the single worst course I ever used as I was studying Russian. It had one of those slightly hyperbolic statements like, “Become Utterly Fluent in Russian Before You Finish Reading This Sentence!” I don’t remember the actual name, but it was two cassettes in a small red plastic container, with an accompanying booklet.
Here are some phrases I do remember from the course. I actually wrote these down, simply for the laugh factor:
“I have six buckets!”
“The goats were running quickly along the sidewalk.”
“Uncle Vanya is sleeping. Don’t flush the toilet.”
These three were in a row, one after the other. Aside from the ridiculousness of the phrases, there was absolutely no organization to them. A compilation of completely random sentences, with no explanation. I’m amazed the speakers read them without laughing. Actually, I’m sure they probably did laugh. I’d love to hear the outtakes!
Whatever course that was, it was the worst, hands down. I actually had a similar experience here in Sevastopol as I helped the owner of an English language school create additional materials for his course. He wanted me, a native speaker of English, to record a list of words and phrases. It started well enough, with the names of foods, then body parts, and so on.
Then came phrases.
Mind you, I took home the sheet I was reading from, so I’m just re-typing. In this section, the phrases were “If/Why” constructions. The first few were reasonable: “If you’re hungry, why not have lunch?” and so. But the sixth one down was:
“If Fred is late, why is he singing?”
I couldn’t really concentrate after that. The question plagued me. I kept thinking about Fred. Like, what’s up with that, Fred? Here you are, late as always, you have people waiting on you, and you’re all happy and singing? I had to keep reading into the microphone, but Fred was always on my mind…
“If it’s dark, why are you reading?”
I bet they’re talking about you again, Fred. First you sing when you’re late, and now you’re reading without the light on. What’s gotten into you? It’s like I don’t even know you anymore…
“If it’s hot, why not let it cool down.”
Why not? Because Fred’s a rebel. I’m sure he likes eating food that’s way too hot. That’s how he rolls. Would you expect anything less from a singing late guy who reads in the dark?
I think I’ll mix those two courses together, and create a whole new one. That horrible course I bought to “Master Russian”, and this one where I was reading all those sentences. Make my own crazy phrases. I’ll call it:
“If Uncle Vanya is sleeping, why did you flush the toilet, Fred?”