Matryoshka（マトリョシカ） Tutor Interview
- Q. Hi Naru! Would you kindly give a brief self-introduction to the Cafetalk community?
A. Hello! I am Naru, a Russian tutor from Kazakhstan. My mother tongue is Kazakh, but from the age of 5 I started speaking Russian. My mother decided me to go to a Russian class at school, since it was the time, when my country just became to an independent nation and there were no that much opportunities in reaching as much information in Kazakh, as it was in Russian. Therefore, I am able to call myself bilingual.
I started my teaching experience two years after I graduated university. At first it was tough, I have to admit it. And it was not because of lack of knowledge in Russian, not at all, I was very confident about it, but because I did not realize that learning the language is totally different than teaching it especially to foreigners. But the more I taught the more I started feeling that this is what I really want to do! And now I enjoy teaching the grammar, speaking, listening through dialogs and other things that I do on my lessons.
- Q. Tell us a bit about where you’re from. According to your profile you were born in Kazakhstan, and that’s also where you currently live. Can you tell us a bit about your country and its culture?
A. My homeland is the 9th largest country in the world, it is 7 times larger than Japan, but there is another fact that might shock people from island nation, which is that Kazakhstan is the world's biggest landlocked country, which means we have the smallest access to sea.
The culture of Kazakhstan is a good mix of all the nations that live here. Kazakhs, Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars, Koreans and other ethnic groups that in total contain 131 nationalities. So, I can assure you that our people are open-minded, loyal and they say we are friendly and warmly welcoming.
- Q. And what about the city or town you currently live in? What kind of place is it?
A. I live in South West of Kazakhstan, in a city surrounded by beautiful Tien Shan Mountains called Almaty. It is the most modern city in Kazakhstan, served as a capital in its various forms from 1929 to 1997. I love my city; it is green and cozy. People here are creative, energetic and have an active attitude to life. We are hard workers who also love to take breaks and enjoy relaxing, hiking and eating tasty food with families and friends. If you decide to visit Kazakhstan, I definitely recommend you to spend a few days here in Almaty.
- Q. You are also fluent in Japanese! Can you tell us when and how you started studying Japanese?
A. Well, I first started learning Japanese at university. To be honest, I was not that interested in the language before that time. But then on my second year I opened to myself the huge world of Japanese dramas! Since that moment I started being really into Japan and its culture! And I am so glad I have chosen Japanese from the very beginning and now I am still in love with Japan, just like in 2007!
- Q. When you are not teaching on Cafetalk, what are you usually up to? Do you have any special hobbies or interests?
A. Sure, I have a lot of hobbies. I love sport very much, I spend a few days at the gym. But my favorite work out is running, when I have free time I go to the stadium that is near my house for a run. I recently participated the Almaty marathon and covered the distance of 10 km. Another thing I have been interested since the primary school is drawing. Also I am a graphic designer, so I spend most of my time working in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
And of course I would like to introduce you my beloved dog. Her name is Iris and she is a German shepherd. And as you can understand, she needs a lot of attention.
- Q. A lot of students are probably curious about the atmosphere in your lessons. What can a student imagine a lesson with you to be like? What’s your “lesson style”?
A. The style, certainly, depends on the level of Russian. But I would like to assure you that I use every minute of a lesson to make it interesting and easy to understand. I make a lot of visual materials by my own, such as: tables, figures, and pictures which cannot be found in textbooks. I also provide the student with video content followed by Russian text for improving listening skills as well as their vocabulary.
I love talking to people and making them to feel comfortable, I believe that smiling and politeness are the best ice breakers. Furthermore, my knowledge of Japanese and the culture is a definite advantage, since majority of my students are Japanese.
Every student, who takes my lessons, knows the lesson plan in advance: I always explain what comes next and what topics will be covered. On my lessons, students feel free to talk, ask as many questions as they want as many times as they need. Overall I consider myself as an experienced tutor, who knows how the lessons should be done, since I have been teaching Russian as a foreign language for more than 5 years.
- Q. Despite your young age you seem to be a very experienced and passionate teacher. Do you use any special teaching methods or materials in your classes?
A. I feel comfortable taking the lead and helping to explore new world of language and culture with students. I believe I am extremely passionate about teaching because I think Russian is the second most beautiful language after Japanese. Since I speak Russian and know its culture from my childhood I can teach the language from the Russian culture point of view. Since I admire Russian classics, love watching TV shows in Russian and always have been involved in their customs and celebrations, It would be pleasure to me to introduce this beautiful world for everyone who wants.
I like talking to people, love seeing their progress. I try not to bore student with one method only. I make my lessons productive as well as interesting and entertaining. And all textbooks and other material I provide myself, so there is no need for students to purchase.
In terms of special methods, yes, I use a few that have helped me in learning Japanese back in my university time. For example, to make sure that pronunciation is right, we repeat everything several times. Also, I know some techniques of remembering long words and even whole sentences.
I support every student even after a lesson providing them with audio files, dictionaries of new words we have learned during the lesson, and other extra materials if needed. I consider my students’ success as my own: Nothing could be compared with a student, who began with alphabet and now able to speak.
- Q. Your most popular lessons are your pack lessons, meaning that students seem to enjoy studying with you long-term. What is your trick to keeping your students motivated in the long run and not give up on their studies?
A. This is a very good question. I think, when it comes to language, there is no such a thing like one time lesson, especially if a student’s goal is to learn a language properly and become fluent in it.
My students are successful people who know that the key of any success is constancy, whereas I do my best to make them feel comfortable and efficient in their study. So I cannot consider any of these as tricks, it only depends on motivation of a student that keeps him or her interested in studying and a teachers that highly value students’ time.
Also, since I am a freelance worker, I try to open as many hours per a day as I can, thus students, who have bought lesson packs will able to use it up before the limits and choose time that suits their schedule.
- Q. Finally, would you like to leave a message for your current and future students?
A. Sure! As I mentioned earlier teaching has been my passion for more than 5 years. So if you are interested in either solid grammar study or having fun and speak Russian, I would be happy to help you. I am always open for any kinds of requests in terms of teaching style, pace, topics, videos, etc. Finally I believe partnership and communication will make our lessons more productive and I am all about individual attention to students and methods that will suit them. I do my best to make the study fun and efficient. Together we can make things work!