великий (velykyy) – большой (bol’shoy)- big (false friend: великий means great in Russian)
це (tse) – это (ehto) – this/it
кава (kava) – кофе (kofe) – coffee
горілка (xhorilka) – водка (vodka)- vodka (Ukrainian “г” has a different sound: “xh” not “g”)
Comparison of Ukrainian and Russian alphabets:
Did you know about these Ukrainian words? I’d love to hear from you!
One more thing before I conclude this post: Yes, I am interested in Ukrainian! This year I have also decided to learn some Ukrainian. I won’t be learning the grammar formally like I have done with German, Russian and French, but I do want to learn some basic words and phrases. The language is personally interesting to me since I lived in Kiev and got to know Ukrainian people and culture. Plus, it’s fun to compare the similarities with Russian. I really like Ukrainian so far ❤ Since I don’t plan on studying or working in Ukraine, I don’t see any need learning the language past a B1 level. At most, I’ll probably reach A2. I’ve got a phrase book and two vocabulary books. And I use Duolingo and YouTube. As I go on, I may use other websites and language learning apps. Even though A2 isn’t that high of a level, I look forward to using some Ukrainian the next time I visit Ukraine!
I wanted to share a quick post today with two exercises for improving your German vocabulary. You can use the exercises for any of your target languages, but since I have a B.A. in German, attended all sorts of classes to learn German, tried (nearly) every method to improve my skills, and lived in Germany for a year, I wanted to do a language-learning post for German 😀
My specialty in life would have to be German grammar 😉 Most people are indifferent when it comes to grammar, but I love it! It’s interesting for me to learn about the structure of different languages, so it’s no surprise that I have predisposition for liking (German, Russian, French) grammar. German grammar seems difficult in the beginning for most learners and that’s the popular opinion around the world, but, in my opinion, it’s much more reliable and logical than French or English grammar.
I’m not sure if many German learners read my blog, but if you are learning German and have questions, or want recommendations for German learning resources, please feel free to ask in the comments.
With the little introduction aside, let’s move on to the two exercises:
Write a text in German. For example: a diary entry, a letter to a loved one (imagined or real), a report about something, or an essay on a particular topic.
Try to think and write in German only. There may be some words that you still need to translate, so make a list of the words you need to know.*
Group words from the list together. You can group verbs/adjectives/prepositions together, or words that belong to a particular topic such as “university life.”
Study these words and re-write the text. Here is an essay checklist for writing correctly in German: Essay Writing Checklist. Here is a list of transition words to help with the structure of your essay: Aufsatz Phrases (pdf). Finally, here is another resource that discusses common mistakes students of German make in their writing: Grammar and Usage Advice.
*why should you start with German instead of translating? 1) If your goal is to speak German, you have to use German before you get really good at it. Actively using a language is the only way to become “fluent,” so it helps to start thinking, speaking and writing even the most basic phrases and sentences when self-studying. 2) You want to avoid awkward translations. By using German only, you are helping to develop a feeling for correct, natural German. Also, if you are just translating a text instead of trying to see what you know first, your progress will be very slow. 3) If you are an upper intermediate or advanced student, I would suggest translating an essay you have written in your native language into German. You have already developed a feeling for the language, so your main concern is no longer major translation mistakes, but rather limited vocabulary. You may have good grammar and know many words, but are you always repeating them over and over? Translating a text you have written in your native language will give you plenty of opportunities to learn new words and to compare your writing ability in your native and target languages.
Select a topic (for example: animals, nationalities, professions.)
So, how else can you improve your vocabulary in a foreign language? a) Listen daily to native speakers by watching TV shows, the news, films, or YouTube videos. b) Read daily— you can actively look for new words, or just enjoy the story. Exposure and practice are key.
More blog posts I’ve written about learning foreign languages:
As I mentioned in Part 1, Russian is a difficult language to learn. It doesn’t come overnight. You need to be consistent and organized. You have to repeat, repeat, repeat. It also helps to have different resources to keep you engaged; you don’t need to torture yourself–using fun learning options will motivate you so much more than dry grammar theory or difficult texts.
6.) Find a song you like and look up the lyrics. Read the Russian text and English translation. I suggest copying the song by hand, but even just reading the text is useful in developing listening comprehension. Your accent, vocabulary and grammar will improve, too. I thought that my love for Russian language was unrequited until I found the band Kino & some Soviet-era films. I studied кино’s lyrics by analyzing grammar, picking out vocabulary words & singing along to get myself speaking more Russian. Now, I can understand songs by the group without having to look up the lyrics.
7.) There are so many things happening with Russian grammar. So, memorizing phrases is the best way to get you speaking. Learning 150 nouns (see my article on the topic here) & the conjugation of verbs (+declination of nouns) will also be useful as you go on to build more of your own sentences, but it will be challenging to go from scratch. That’s why it’s useful to build a dictionary of phrases.
8.) Russian and English express themselves differently. Trying to translate your English thoughts into Russian speech will require effort. It may lead to slow, incomplete answers. Once you can think in Russian, you won’t have to translate and will be able to speak more naturally. Until you reach this level, however, I suggest that you work on conversation topics. For practice, you can speak daily or write a diary. Think through some basic scenarios, too–like ordering coffee, saying excuse me, and asking different questions. I would try to think/write in as much Russian as possible then translate a few words or ask for corrections.
9.) I mentioned in the first point that regularly listening to music in Russian would help your speaking. Another great thing to do if you want to improve your accent is to read aloud. You have to get past the alphabet and focus on reading some basic words first. But it’s easy to transition to short texts and, later, simple stories. Reading aloud will really improve your flow of the language. You can work on trouble sounds and try to make your accent more Russian by comparing a recording of yourself to native speech.
10.) Russian requires some dedicated time spent studying the old-fashioned way. Use books and websites to study grammar. I recommend:
A) a LOT of study—patterns, structure, nuances, roots a.k.a grammar tables
B) memorization—apply to speech, do exercises, & quiz yourself.
C) practice—find a speaking partner, write a journal, speak to yourself daily, read something or learn a few new words every day
My post Why I’m Learning French has been one of your favorites. So, I wanted to share how I am getting on with French 🙂
French is the third foreign language I have studied (after German & Russian.) One thing working in my favor is that I already have my own methods for learning a foreign language as well as experience speaking these languages in Germany, Russia and Ukraine.
However, maintaining multiple languages means not being able to give each individual language as much time. Getting past the beginner’s plateau takes patience, love and hard work no matter how “easy” the language is. 🙂
This post–as you can tell from the title–will cover my resources (all books) for learning French. If you aren’t learning French, I would still recommend sources like these for beginner students of European languages. Together, they function as a system: textbooks, workbooks, dictionaries, and so on. (Also, I consult online articles about grammar pitfalls and YouTube for a variety of French-teaching videos (a great resource to improve your listening skills.)
I am going to share a bit in this post about how I use these books when I study, but… I have another announcement!I have a few learning challenges that I want to do and then share with you guys.
The first will be about vocabulary:Does studying the most common 200 words help you to start conversing in your target language faster?
The second will be about my self-study methods: I am going to measure my French grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking ability, etc. to see how fast my French skills develop from my self-study methods. In this post, I will share in more detail how I learn certain topics or work with different resources. I recommend studying in 15-minute sessions and giving yourself a 5-10 minute break after every 30 minutes. If it becomes boring or difficult, move on to something else. I also recommend looking for ways to blend your studies into your everyday routine like studying vocab in the subway, or thinking to yourself in French when you go for a walk.
Third will be like the former one, but I will work with an individual teacher and measure how I progress in French after 5, 10, 20 hours of private lessons. I will also describe how the lessons went, how I prepare for them, and how I review them. I suggest recording the lesson or taking notes, asking questions and receiving corrections, speaking as much in your target language as possible, and doing homework to review what you did during the lesson.
That is how I plan on improving my French! I would be happy with reaching B2 in French and if I really love the language, maybe even C1. By April of this year, I hope to make it to B1 and no longer be a beginner student!!
**As of January 8, 2019 according to this online test, my French is B2 level. Although I think I am A2 and am just a good test taker 🙂
Without further ado, here are the books I am using to learn French:
Let me know what you thought of this post and if you are interested in the language challenges mentioned!
Part 2 & 3 of the series are coming soon, but, for now, I wanted to share some useful and free sources for learning Russian.
To learn a foreign language you need a system, organization and motivation–but, behind that, needs to be some solid resources for you to blend into your language-learning-routine. These Russian teachers will have you motivated to study hard and can guide you along your language journey~
(by clicking on the photos below, you will be taken to their YouTube channels)
If you are a Russian teacher or know of resources that weren’t mentioned, please share them in the comments below~
“Language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides.” – Rita Mae Brown
1) A great way to learn authentic modern language is to find a language partner. I personally like learning through real conversations because I unconsciously/effortlessly add new words to my vocabulary without thinking about grammar or pronunciation.
I don’t think idioms, slang, sayings, proverbs, quotes, usw. can be learned from long lists. Some books may use stories or pictures to illustrate them, but we don’t learn idioms or slang from books in our native language; we pick them up from speaking with others. And I find this approach effective with acquiring specialized vocabulary in foreign languages.
Furthermore, a language partner will help you utilize what you already know. You can talk with your pets if you are too shy to find a language partner online/in-person–or with yourself in the shower–for this practice. Ask them basic questions, tell them how your day is going, and train what you recently learned.
2. Another important tip I have is to find a private teacher. Receiving corrections is important, so ask your teacher to correct your speech and turn in writing assignments to them as well.
A good teacher should also boost your motivation and be able to guide you as you progress in the language. Together, you can find your weaker areas and reach your learning goals.
Use this time with your private teacher to converse in the language and get yourself accustomed to different speaking situations. Your accent, vocabulary and grammar will rapidly improve.
3. Third and final point is concise: to use I) context to your advantage and II) immerse yourself in the language.
I) Using context: instead of lists of words with no examples/related words, find something that is interesting and relevant to you… read an article in your target language about your favorite band and study new vocabulary by memorizing whole sentences. Translate a short text that’s on your level and re-read the original and the translation several times.
My project “Austauscherfahrungen” has been active for more than a year now. To celebrate this occasion and reflect on the roots of this blog, I have put together this post—My First Trip Abroad in Photos.
There are two ways to “read” this entry: you can either start from this page and click on the photos that interest you, or you can start by clicking on the first photo and then go from photo story to photo story.
The first time I went abroad I was 18 years old. I went abroad the summer after my freshman year of university. It was not an organized trip with my university, nor was it a group trip through an organization offering study abroad opportunities to American students. I signed up for a summer language course with an international language school, Goethe-Institute.
I was from a small (southern) American town and somewhat bad at directions. Naturally, I had some expectations of Europe, but I was open-minded and unafraid to travel to Germany by myself. I wasn’t too nervous before I took off—I only worried about organizational matters. At first, it was a challenge to navigate train stations and flow with the pace of Germany, but I soon met friends at the language school and spent a fantastic summer abroad.
Some quick tips I have are: to enjoy the small things and give yourself time for reflection. Also, you have to be bad at something before you can be good at it, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Ultimately, I gained a strong motivation to study German further and changed my major to German once I returned home. For more on my study abroad in Germany summer 2015, check out this article~Getting Started with Studying Abroad
Introduction aside, here is My First Trip Abroad in Photos:
1. Reading is a great way to improve your vocabulary, accent, rhythm and overall relationship with a new language. There are many methods to learn from reading: by reading aloud and training your accent, by finding unknown words in a text, and, simply, by immersing your thoughts in a new language you are helping your brain to connect different channels of information, so that you can use grammar and vocabulary naturally when speaking.
2. Writing a diary or stories to take some authorship. Do you just want to be able to introduce yourself and order food, or do you want to be able to converse about daily life, describe a special memory, talk about your hobby, or discuss your beliefs? Write about the things that are important to you.
3. Speaking and thinking in your target language before actually speaking. Many performers–let’s say dancers–will review their routine by quickly running through it before they go on stage. Take a few minutes and go through a scenario in your head about a possible conversation topic. This way you will be better prepared the next time you have a chance to practice and you can discover where some gaps in your knowledge are, so that you can later fill them with more studying.