Russian and Ukrainian are approximately 60% similar. So, knowing one does help with comprehending the other. However, there are many things that make each language unique. Such as the alphabet, the vocabulary and the grammar. Keep reading to learn more about these differences ❤
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:
If the grammar blows your mind, you get tongue-twisted by common words or you still seem to not be able to express yourself, you’re not alone–you have to work hard, but a rich cultural world opens when you understand Russian that will ultimately enrich your life. Immersion is the best thing you can do to unlock this world. Therefore, I suggest these learning options for students of Russian:
For tips #1-5 click here—>
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
First I want to say thanks to my new followers!! I appreciate your support and am glad to share life, languages, & travelling with you all.
I love the idea that someone searches something on Google and they end up on my blog! Writing also makes me feel good and I am so proud of how far this blog has come! =)
I have learned a lot about this platform and blog design/writing in general and maybe, one day, I will use it somewhere else. But for now, I still have a lot of content in mind to share on Austauscherfahrungen. I will try to post once a week.
Introduction aside let’s get back to this language learning post!
My latest post was about how I am learning French–specifically which resources--and I also shared some learning challenges. This post is an update about one of the learning challenges: learning the most common/useful 150 words–can I converse faster in my target language after mastering these words??
While these words aren’t necessarily the highest frequency words (those are a bit different in all languages anyway and are often grammatical words like “the, an, at, on”)
and they also aren’t necessarily your first five-hundred A1 vocabulary words according to the European Framework—
they are practical words for adult conversation instead of lists of different fruit names or abstract words which would be better for someone with a higher level.
—The man who created the list is an experienced and talented polyglot (you can read more about him on his website which I linked above.)
Personally, I think it is extremely useful for beginners to master 100-500 words in their target language by not only learning the translation, but also grammatical information, related words and how to use the word naturally in a sentence. Creating your own sentences with new vocabulary and finding related words is so much more useful than learning thousands of words with only the translated equivalent.
It immerses you in the language when you create sentences and your brain can work a lot better with the context, so that when you want to speak your target language you don’t have to translate anymore. And, by making flash cards or easy-to-read lists, you can easily review problem words. Taking the time to hand-write the cards and search in a dictionary can’t hurt your memory either 😉
This is how I will study with them: 1) I am going to stop other study methods like YouTube videos and working with other books. How else would I know whether it was the cards or my other materials that benefited me? I am going to review my A1 textbook though. 2) I will practice reading aloud when I study and my goal is to go through all cards at least twenty times. Along the way I will measure how my speaking improves!
I will update you again after finishing the cards and memorizing them. The next learning challenge will be about my self-study methods: how I am studying to make fast progress in French 🙂
More posts that may interest you~
My resources for learning French/ recommended beginner books for students of European languages (with a little advice on studying): My Resources for Learning French
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.