I wrote an e-mail to my Russian prof and asked her for some poetry of the Russian masters. I asked for something simple so that I can learn to speak it better. I did not tell her this, but the dialogs that we recite in class mean nothing to me. She gives us poetry that children recite which is just little rhymes. They mean nothing to me. Chances are, I will not go to Russia in this lifetime. I am a mother with nine children and it's just amazing that I am even competing my degree. I used to want to travel, but now it seems as likely as me traveling to Mars. I don't give a rat's ass about the dialogs. I care about the poetry.
When I was younger, I had a bad stutter. I joined the debate team in high school because I wanted to get over it. My coach, for whom I named my first child, would later tell me that she went home and cried. I was so excited to be on the team, but my stutter was a huge hump in public speaking. It was painful to listen to me, but I so badly wanted to join the team. Debate teams over here do more than debate. They have drama events and she got me into mime so I could compete while she gave me poetry to practice for dramatic and humorous interpretation events. I read Shakespeare and Wordsworth and modern humorists and everything that she gave me. I overcame my stutter by learning the rhythm. I would stand in the hall after school and practice my works while kids ran indoors for the running team. I know I seemed weird but the same athletes who I was in class with noticed that when I read even when they good naturedly teased me and ran circles around me or tried to mess me up, I wasn't stuttering!
Once in a class another teacher called on me and asked me a question and I tried several times to answer him, but my stutter was bad that day and I stopped and asked to go see the school nurse because I had started to cry. One of the runners said, "Tea, you don't stutter when you read. Pretend you are reciting Shakespeare in the hall after school!" After that, I started getting better. Three years later, I was impossible to beat when I did my speaking events-- and I lost my stutter.
I hope the professor doesn't tell me that I have to memorize only the children's rhymes and dialogs and then get the poetry later.
In my German classes in high school, we only learned dialogs and I think that if she had taught us some poetry from the great German writers, I'd still speak it. Poetry is Art. Dialogs are lame and only useful if you get to travel and if the speaker deviates, you get confused. I read poetry for fun in English. I think that I would still speak German had I been introduced to it. Poetry has rhythm and there is a cadence to it. Poetry can be historical. You don't do poetry for a grade-- you do it for the sake of doing it.
Poetry teaches the structure of the language; it is like practicing katas in martial arts or doing compulsory figures in ice skating. Children's rhymes don't do it for me and dialogs depress me as I will most likely not travel to Russia.
I am not making any sense. She is going to laugh at me for even asking for something simple from the great writers, but that is what is relevant to me.