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Chapter 28. Superlearning > Launching Language

Launching Language

Sputnik changed my life. In 1957, the Russians surprised and inspired the world by orbiting the planet's first artificial satellite. This precipitated a change in how Americans viewed space, viewed Russians, and viewed brainy, science-minded young people. Until Sputnik, I was an unappreciated misfit. Almost overnight I became an appreciated misfit.

And I decided to learn Russian. There were no classes, so I ordered the newly published, but already obsolescent “Living Language” course on three LPs. The box copy promised quick, easy mastery of a difficult language. Over several months I reached a point where I knew the Cyrillic alphabet and could garble a handful of stock sentences, but I didn't learn Russian. That's hard and takes a lot of time. In fact, it took three consulting trips to Russia before I could get by on the streets of Moscow and Leningrad. Even then, they thought I spoke Russian with a Bulgarian accent.


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