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Posts Tagged ‘American English’

This Russian is not a teen, and she’s not political. She’s 22 and wants people to learn the natural-sounding American English that she teaches online.

I loved the TikTok video by Lera Sycheva (neurolera on TikTok) showing how one could pretend to be American in a Russian anti-government protest. Like most viewers, I assumed she was all about politics. She isn’t.

After the Daily Mail wrote an inaccurate story about Sycheva, PRI’s “The World” assigned a reporter to interview her over Skype this week. I don’t have the transcript, but I can quote Sycheva’s view of politics: “Politics are dirty. It’s not for normal people.”

At “The World,” Daniel Ofman got the real story: “Last month, leading up to a protest in support of opposition politician and Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, the hashtag #FreeNavalny blew up on Russian TikTok. But one video, in particular, grabbed a ton of attention. In it, a Russian TikToker with the username neurolera explains how to say some key phrases with an American accent, which ‘can save your life, or how to pretend to be American if you get detained at a protest.’ ”

Turns out her TikTok advice on pretending to be an American in a protest was based on something that happened more than a year ago in a different protest. At that time she saw a video on the news in which a Russian police officer left some guy alone because he claimed to be an American. Sycheva saw an opportunity for teaching American English.

If you listen to the interview at “The World,” here, you can get a bonus — Sycheva’s description of her time in Montana, where (unlike Russians, she notes ) people smile all the time.

Now, about the Daily Mail report: They got Sycheva’s age and motivations wrong, but they got it right how people were responding to the TikTok post.

Ryan Fahey reported, “Law enforcement agencies are preparing to suppress nationwide demonstrations after 44-year-old Navalny urged supporters to flood the streets to protest him being detained on return to Russia. Navalny, who was charged with flouting the rules of a suspended jail term, was being treated in Berlin for suspected poisoning with the nerve agent novichok. Soon after he roused from his coma, he accused President Vladimir Putin of orchestrating his attempted assassination.  

“Moscow police today said they would ‘immediately suppress’ any ‘unsanctioned protests’ in support of the dissident in the capital tomorrow. Protest coordinators have planned demonstrations in at least 65 other cities. Several Navalny aides have already been arrested. 

“TikTok user @neurolera, who gives her name as Lera in her bio, posted a video of herself explaining the pronunciation of common American phrases. .. Lera’s first tip is to confidently tell the officers, ‘I’m American’. She then stresses the tone and intonation for the statement to sound as if it’s coming from the lips of a native speaker. 

“If asked for a passport, Lera advises, protesters should tell the police they left it in their hotel room. Lera then suggests shouting: ‘You’re violating my human rights!’ … Finally, Lera advises demonstrators in trouble to pull out a phone and tell officers they will be getting in touch with their lawyer. …

“Teachers, and the Kremlin, have warned schoolchildren against attending. …

” ‘These are Western social networks, they manipulate our children in every possible way in order to bring them to the streets,’ parents’ leader Olga Letkova said. ‘At the protests, there will certainly be provocations and attempts to turn this into bloody massacres. … It is obvious that this is a coup attempt that is being conducted in the West.’ ” LOL.

More at the Daily Mail, here. You need to watch the video. Sycheva’s body language is hilarious. This is how other nationalities often see Americans — obnoxiously entitled.

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