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15101 Michigan Ave.
f2 miles E. of Southfield Fwy.)
Ann Arbor author helps Russian-speakers
learn colloquial English.
readjust their learned vocabulary.
Gillett wanted to offer a resource in
Special to the Jewish News
context, with American characters
and vocabulary that would be more
relevant to living in the United
he taught English in Prague,
worked with Russian immi-
She had the idea of writing a book
grants in an English as a sec-
in mind for several years.
She gained experience by
program in Connecticut
working for the U.S.
and now Amy Gillett is
Foreign Service at the
American Embassy in
from the former Soviet
Prague, setting up trade
Union in Ann Arbor get
shows in Russia for a
a handle on the tricky
parts of the English lan-
venture and working for
various corporations. Then
She's put her teaching
she settled on the idea of
experience into a self-
creating a story, sets of
help book for New
exercises and an accompa-
nying CD to help Russian-
English Like an
speakers with everyday
American for Native
The yearlong process
resulted in a book that has
sold about 1,000 copies
The book explores
colloquial phrases and
"This book is really to
their usages through the
improve your conversations
25-chapter story of an
and your vocabulary and
American family. Their
your understanding when
adventures serve as a
people speak to you," she
vehicle for introducing
said. "When Americans
phrases like "make a
talk with you and use these idioms,
bundle" and "out of this world."
Gillett's interest in the Russian lan- you'll know what they are talking
guage, culture, history and "just
As an American who has studied
about everything Russian" was
Russian, Czech, Serbo-Croatian,
sparked when she studied Russian at
French, Italian, German and Latin,
Wilton High School in Wilton,
Gillett understands the importance
Conn., and visited the Soviet Union
of trying to improve language skills
twice while she was in high school.
to interact with native speakers and
She is always looking for ways to
also understands the difficulties of
make the material she taught more
learning another language.
interesting and applicable.
"I found the material in most of
the textbooks was dated and old or it
just didn't inspire, so I was constant-
She hopes her book promotes a new
ly thinking of my own exercises and
level of communication and confi-
different ways to approach the mate-
dence for the people who use it.
rial to make it more lively and real,"
"That's the goal, that they really
feel better about their English, and
In Russia, textbooks teach British
it's an active process. This book is
English, which has both a different
one piece of the process, and it gets
context and different examples.
people going," she said.
Russians coming to America have to