As promised, I am continuing my account of my experiences studying Russian with Boris Shekhtman.
At this point I have been meeting once a week for three hours with him for one-on-one tutoring. The lessons are very focused on my specific needs and idiosyncrasies in learning.
As Michel Thomas explained to me, if a student is having any problem learning, it is the responsibility of the teacher to remedy this. There are no bad students, just poor teachers. Boris, who had never heard of Michel before I mentioned him to him, told me exactly the same thing on our first meeting.
What has amazed me is that he truly lives this philosophy when it comes to our lessons together. He is never in a hurry to get me to go beyond where I am holding in anything. If I have a problem then he stops everything and makes sure that I understand what is going on and how to proceed. He does this by first of all making sure that I am fully aware of what has happened. I often will notice that there is something that I don’t understand. He wants me to recognize this. Then he helps me to figure out the solution which is really wonderful.
If I don’t get his method of teaching something he will switch into another mode of teaching until he figures out how I learn in such a situation. Then he will emphasize this mode of learning until, at some point, he realizes that something different is needed. That’s when he reanalyzes what is happening and changes course accordingly.
Boris is a really inspiring example of a master teacher.