Here is the full text and summary of Marc Green’s talk titled “How to Talk Like a Native Speaker” at TEDxHeidelberg conference.
Marc’s passion is the study of languages, their manifestation in local dialects, as well as their expression in poetry and folkloric song. He has acquired a near-native proficiency in six languages and their sub-forms and has given various musical performances.
My story starts in Moscow. I was 15 years old. My best friend and I, we were part of a group of Westerners, visiting the Soviet Union. This was in 1987, a few years before the fall of the communist regime.
We were given an official tour guide who was assigned to us. And the tour would start in the morning, and we were checked in to our hotel rooms for the night. My friend said to me, ”Let’s go outside and look at the city.” I thought it was a great idea. Dumb idea.
So we grabbed our coats, and we snuck out past security and into the street. We found the entrance to the metro. The Moscow underground transportation system is the deepest one in the world. The ride down the escalator took a full minute.
Once we were down there, my friend headed right to an open train, and I pulled him back and said, “Wait! Let’s write down the name of the station so we can find our way back.” So I had a notepad, and I took a notepad, and I wrote down the letters of the station, and we hopped down the train and went on train hopping. And that was fun because – Well, actually, it was weird.
There were a lot of people, probably all coming home from work. They were all dressed in brown and gray clothes, and it looked very, very different from what we were used to at home. But the stations were lovely. There were stations with statues, with paintings on the wall, and glass displays. It was really like museums. We would never have expected that.