Eduard Khayrullin: “Tatar lessons helped me to discover it for myself in adulthood”

Learning the language of Gabdulla Tukay and Musa Dzhalil in 8 hours for free: the project produced by the press secretary of Minnikhanov has been launched on YouTube

An unusual project that allows you to learn the Tatar language for 8 hours has been recently launched on YouTube — famous polyglot Dmitry Petrov is ready to teach the language. The correspondent of Realnoe Vremya found in the first video lesson Tatar girls who cannot speak their native language fluently, an African, and even Head of the press service of the President of Tatarstan Eduard Khayrullin, who produced these lessons, including for himself — to “awaken the genetic memory of grandmothers and great-grandmothers”. He told our online newspaper more about the “Tatar project”.

Learning to speak the Tatar language for 8 hours — for free

The first episode of the unusual project The Tatar Language with Dmitry Petrov has been recently posted on YouTube, in which the famous translator, Kultura channel presenter, polyglot who speaks up to 40 languages, gives lessons of the Tatar language by its unique methodology. Note: for free.

The YouTube channel, which was specially opened for this purpose and called The Tatar Language with Polyglot Petrov, invites to learn the Tatar language in just 8 hours. The first episode-lesson lasts only 20 minutes. The other lessons are also going to be short. In the preview, it is noted that Petrov, who can “decompose any language into atoms in order to understand its structure, matrix”, has already mastered the Tatar using his methodology and offers it to master to anyone who wants finally begin to speak Tatar in 24 lessons: “To master the foundation of the Tatar language, to overcome the psychological barrier and acquire communication skills in the Tatar language, to create “fireproof” vocabulary and begin to speak Tatar with their friends, colleagues and superiors. And understand what they say about you.”

“The most important thing is to feel the taste of the language,” so Dmitry Petrov begins the first lesson and promises to avoid the Russian accent in the Tatar language.

Tatars who cannot speak their native language fluently

A real Tatar, says the online teacher, accurately recognizes the Russian sound “A” in the word “yaratam” (translated “I love” from Tatar). In the “classroom”, the school desks are arranged in a semicircle, at which eight people sit, from a Nigerian man to... Press Secretary of the President of Tatarstan Eduard Khayrullin, who folded his hands like a diligent student, and attentively listening to the teacher. In front of him, there are only a notebook and a pen.

All students are living or used to live in Tatarstan. Petrov offers not only and not so much to “teach” the Tatar language as to “recall” it. It is significant that among the students, there is a Tatar girl in Muslim attire — Elza Khusnutdinova, the creator of the speaking puppets on Tatar Tele. She would like to speak her native language fluently and pass down her knowledge to her children. Dinara Vurgaft, the Miss Tatarstan 2014, now working as a TV journalist, who is a native of the Bashkir city of Neftekamsk, also has the same motivation.

Another Tatar girl, Alsinur Safarova, also admitted that she, alas, cannot freely speak her native language. She would very much like to learn it, first of all, for her profession: she is a journalist and often communicates with Tatar-speaking people. Another student, Russian-speaking Sergey Ivanov, wishes to learn Tatar because he used to live in Tatarstan and seeks to learn the language, “better understand the culture of the Tatar people”.

Eduard Khayrullin: to awaken the “genetic memory” of grandmothers

Eduard Khayrullin sat at his desk, he admitted to the teacher, “to pull out of the subconscious warm words of grandmothers, great-grandmothers, when they invited me to drink tea and eat buns”:

“I think I have it in me. And I'm counting on you, hoping we can get them.”

“To awaken genetic memory?” Dmitry Petrov clarified from the press secretary of the president. “It's serious, it's deep.”

Arina Sudakova, a member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Youth Affairs of the Republic of Tatarstan, also sat at the desk to prove to herself: she will be able to learn a language that is not native to her and “will not awaken genetic memory”. The next four tribes of her family, she explained, spoke Russian.

Petrov in response to this noted that people in Russia, in Eurasia, “are so mixed together” that any of us in the genetic memory has a share of “Turkic blood”, “Slavic blood”. Every language that we learn, the polyglot believes, “we recall”.

David Olise: “I'm from Nigeria... but maybe I'm from Tatarstan too”

“I don't know if I have Tartars in my memory,” Nigerian David Olise shrugged to the laughter of the class. “I just love learning new languages. I'm from Nigeria... but maybe I'm from Tatarstan too!”

Learning any language, Dmitry Petrov warned, is always a challenge — especially in such a limited time frame. The Tatar language, he noted, is not the easiest, but not the most difficult. However, each language has its own iron logic, and the task of his students is to penetrate deep into the language, not just learn some words.

The main thing — to overcome the barrier and, overcoming fears, to speak a new language. Tatar cuisine, Tatar music, Tatar nature — all these are also certain aspects of the Tatar language. And all this should be remembered when studying it.

“We purposefully chose YouTube so that people could watch the lessons at any time”

YouTube channel has become possible, as it is written under the first video, with the support of the president of Tatarstan: the link goes to the Instagram account of Rustam Minnikhanov, who in response posted a post with the words: “Polyglot Petrov speaks 50 languages, including Tatar!” The head of the region posted a video of the first lesson, which has already been viewed by more than 41k subscribers. Perhaps, this is the most popular post of the president since the elections to the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan. The author of the project is the head of the presidential press service, Eduard Khayrullin. The correspondent of Realnoe Vremya learned from Eduard Khayrullin about the details and found out why he decided to sit down at the desk.

Mr Khayrullin, how exactly did you come up with this idea? Sitting in the kitchen, watching YouTube — and suddenly it dawned on you?

No! I was studying at Stanford University, a year ago we were sent there by Rustam Minnikhanov, and there we were taught to look at everything outside the box. I thought that in the republic there are many teachers, but the result... is always different. Maybe we should get out of the situation and look at it from the outside. And Dmitry Petrov, who knows everything about languages, will be able to decompose the Tatar language into its component parts? And to show that learning the Tatar language is easy, simple and anyone can do that.

Did you purposefully choose YouTube as a platform because the younger generation watches it preferring to get information from short videos?

We purposefully chose YouTube so that people could watch the lessons at any time, around the clock. Well, more video tutorials are going to appear on the channels of the republic. We wanted to reach as wide as possible layers of the population: grandmothers, the middle generation, who still watches the TV. And if you wanted to study more, they could “go to YouTube”.

“If a person from Nigeria learns this language, you understand that nothing is impossible”

On which channel of Tatarstan will the lessons be rebroadcasted?

On Tatarstan 24, starting today (26 September — editor’s note). One episode a day with a repeat. On Saturday, all the series that came out during the week will be shown (it is possible to watch the special project The Tatar language with Dmitry Petrov on ANV channel from 26 September — editor’s note).

Are you going to urge officials, your Russian-speaking colleagues who do not understand Tatar, to watch these 24 lessons with Dmitry Petrov?

We want to use a radically different approach! To make it clear to everyone that there is no violence here, precisely because learning the language will be interesting, informative and easy. Here we need only the free will and desire of a person, his or her motivation.

Would you advise these YouTube Tatar lessons in schools? To teachers, maybe directors of educational institutions?

Of course, we will give all copyrights on them to the ministry of education of the Republic of Tatarstan, and they will use them at their discretion. In general, we ourselves will spread these lessons through all channels, wherever possible. And invite to them. If a person from Nigeria learns this language, you understand that nothing is impossible.

Targeting a wide audience: from urban residents of Tatarstan to Tatar diasporas around the world

If we talk about the study of the Tatar language in schools, do you think it is better to teach the young generation in the “stylish, fashionable, youth” way through YouTube channels, or still using workbooks? Or is the project intended more for adults?

Workbooks are used by schools, but we would like to attract an adult — mature, understanding why he or she needs it, and trusting this teacher. It seems to us that this format — online, with Petrov, who has an undoubted authority in languages and a large army of people who have learned foreign languages thanks to him — is interesting. Using his authority and the motivation of the people themselves, we would like the lessons to be relaxed and natural.

What coverage or audience does the project expect? A Russian-speaking representative of the young generation from Siberia, for example, who has never been even to Kazan?

Everyone, starting with people who, like me, grew up in a city, and maybe they did not have grandmothers in the village to immerse themselves in this [Tatar] environment, who are interested in it, but just did not have the time for it. And ending with people in general in Russia, the world, in the Tatar diasporas, for example, who would like to improve and learn the language better. The vast expanses of the Internet allow us to hope that there will be as wide coverage as possible.

By Sergey Afanasyev