New Discovery in Kiev

I got to see a new part of Kiev today! A permanent flea market with an open-air book market. It was wonderful to dive into the stacks of books.. to test my knowledge of reading Russian and to discover some books in English, German and French. My buddy also found a book he had been searching for!! Schwein gehabt 🙂

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Despite the cold, rainy and grey weather, I had a great time. I feel like most big cities have these layers. As short-time tourists, we stay on a level of tourism.. only seeing attractions but not getting to know the city as it lives naturally. Ordinary parts of a city aren’t so ordinary when you find something you like. Like going to a book market as a book lover. I enjoyed myself and am glad that I keep finding new things to do and see.

For those interested, the book market along with the other flea markets there are directly at the station Pochaina (formerly Petrivka) on the blue line of the metro. In my post about Kiev, I mentioned a collection of shops at an underground crossing near Arsenalna station that sell a decent variety of new books, but this area is a typical flea market with a huge collection of used books especially in Russian language. Likealocalguide.com says that it’s the biggest book market in Ukraine with books of all genres and an authentic atmosphere. And I agree! It’s an authentic place with so much history and so many beautiful stories waiting to be discovered –> Petrivka Market

Best Wishes

~ Stephanie F.

Tips for Native English Speakers Learning Russian (Part 1 of 3)

“Повторе́ние — мать уче́нья.” (= Repetition is the mother of learning.)

Learning Russian… you need to master a new alphabet then move to reading syllables until you can read words and short sentences—but that’s not the hardest part! Russian grammar is very complex and there are few Russian-English cognates (mainly modern vocabulary dealing with tourism or technology.) Being able to speak Russian even on a lower intermediate level is a big challenge because, for most English speakers, it takes a while for basic Russian speaking-constructions to stick. Not to mention, Russian is highly-productive and can be very exact offering many options to one English word or phrase. Both the literary and the spoken language are rich and idiomatic. Therefore, building comprehension is a lot of work. Furthermore, there are many exceptions and various nuances (like stress in Russian words) that make the language challenging for non-native speakers. Russian language is a world of its own and, if you want to speak the language well, it helps to also study Russian history and culture. However, despite the many challenges, I still believe that learning Russian as a native English speaker is a rewarding process. I’ve never met a Russian who isn’t proud of their language and it should be easy for you to find speaking partners online. Russian literature also inspires many English speakers to study Russian. So, if you’d like to begin to use the language effectively, the following tips will help you out:

 

russian meme 1

 

1. The number one thing I can suggest is immersion. What do I consider immersion? a) Having a good teacher and regular lessons based on an effective system. b) Passive learning & natural usage (minimum five days a week) such as watching films, listening to music, reading literary texts, and communicating in Russian. c) Teaching yourself the language: use YouTube videos and free websites to learn vocabulary and grammar d) Practice & usage: think to yourself, record yourself speaking Russian, write stories and essays, and do A LOT of listening.

 
2. The second most important thing is repetitionstudying, reviewing and applying what you know. And reviewing again after applying what you know. Learn something new and forget about a topic then come back to it. This is the only way to succeed in learning Russian. Also, try not to isolate vocabulary or grammar when studying or reviewing, but always work on the two together—this will help you to learn the correct conjugations of verbs, the declination of nouns, etc., that you can apply correctly in your speech.

 
3. The next thing I would suggest is learning how to write Russian cursive. It will be very hard to continue to learn Russian vocabulary if you still write block letters for your notes. If you want to be able to use Russian to produce your own speech and writing, you need to learn Russian cursive and get corrections from natives.

 

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The Winter Palace @ Saint Petersburg, Russia

 

4. Another suggestion I have is to skip American or European textbooks for learning Russian and start with materials directly from Russia. What I don’t like about non-Russian textbooks is that they are either oversimplified or too complex. Now, I don’t think that American or European textbooks are completely useless, but I find the Russian system of learning Russian to be more effective in the long run.

 

5. The fifth and final point is to believe in your success and to have the desire to learn Russian. It helps when you have an encouraging teacher and make use of fun options like films, music, or literature, but the motivation has to come from within. Find something that inspires you and think about your goals. Keep working hard on the language so that you don’t have to ask yourself if you’re making progress, but you will naturally feel that you are advancing in the language.

 

That’s it for this post! Good luck with your Russian 🙂

For more language learning: Language Learners‘ Toolbox

 

~Stephanie F.

Blog Update

Dear readers,

As my blog continues to grow, I am trying to improve as a travel blogger. I want to record my memories for myself, but tell them in a way that is inspirational for my readers. I love exchanging ideas with others and picking up good habits from different people. Moreover, I want my travel posts to be just as interesting as they are informative. I’d love any feedback, tips or further comments about travel blogging. Why should we write about our travels? What do we gain by sharing our travels with others? What does travelling and writing mean to you?

Sincerely,

Stephanie F.

Why I’m Learning French

Hello hello!

Learning a new language is hard work and a big time investment, so we better have good reasons for why we want to do so. Knowing why helps us with our goals in the language (making learning it more structured) and will also help keep us motivated.

Here are eight reasons why I want to learn French:

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1. I had French for a few years in secondary school. I didn’t go that deep into the language, but I still had some interaction with vocabulary and basic grammar, which will make the learning process a little easier. Not to mention, French classes and other materials are relatively accessible in the USA, so it will be quite doable to learn basic French in the States.

2. It’s the second most popular foreign language after English. This means that I could speak French with friends (who already know it) and meet new francophones. It’s not the most popular language now, but it still holds its status as a lingua franca. It will always (or so I think) be regarded as a beautiful, romantic language that is part of a nice, prestigious culture.

3. It won’t be easy to read and write, but I like the pronunciation. (And, as I am learning more French, I like how French grammar expresses itself differently than English or German grammar. I am learning new vocabulary/new ways to think about the world, too.)

4. French and English are (sometimes) similar, so it won’t be as big of a challenge as learning, for example, an Asian language (or even Russian for that matter :D) There will be a lot of new vocabulary (and false friends) due to the Latin roots of French, but it will make it easier for me to learn another romance language in the future.

 

 

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5. The language has crept into other European languages (French used to be the language of government and the language of the elite, so other languages borrowed many French words) and knowing French will help my reading comprehension in general humanities. Therefore, I will understand history better and also improve my vocabulary.

6. I like a few French scholars already and would have access to even more scholars, writers, artists and the like.

7. After learning German and starting with Russian, I just wasn’t satisfied. Learning languages is one of my hobbies and it is something that I enjoy–not just to say that I speak the languages, or just to be able to communicate with others, but because I enjoy the process of learning them. Speaking multiple languages also makes travelling easier and more interesting.

8. Learning French will make it more enjoyable to travel in France. I can’t wait to see the beauty of the country, enjoy tasty food and get to know the culture (art, literature, customs) better.

 

So, guys, what languages do you want to learn and why?

~ Stephanie F.

 

For more language-related fun check out–>How I learned German (A Bilingual Text) & New language, new life

Ten Tips for Learning Vocabulary in a Foreign Language

Dear language learners,

I want to share my top ten tips for learning vocabulary in a foreign language. Each language is rich in vocabulary and it’s a necessary part of language learning. These tips will help you to learn vocabulary more effectively.

Let’s begin!

  1. In addition to writing down the new word, also make note of the grammatical information (part of speech, plural form, declination, past tense for irregular verbs), a translation or definition, and an example of the word in natural context.  ” Although I love children, I love babies more. I have been working as a baby-sitter for two years.”  baby (n.)- babies (plural); “a very young child, especially one recently born.”
  2. Break down words into familiar elements. regardless: regard (n.)- attention to something; -less (an adj. suffix) meaning without; regardless = “without attention to the present situation despite the prevailing circumstances.” This will help with productive languages like German and Russian, which sometimes results in very long words that seem challenging at first, and, once you understand how the main prefixes and suffixes in a language work, you can use the language more creatively.
  3. Learn words with their antonyms. You make it easier for yourself to memorize new words with this method.
  4. Memorize words in small phrases. This makes a difference when you not only want to understand a language, but also produce it without a major struggle or much hesitation. Thank you for the flowers. Thanks for your help!” You may be surprised when, at an advanced level in a foreign language, you struggle to respond quickly and fluently in basic situations like saying sorry or thanks because you simply haven’t practiced them.
  5. Add images and audio to online notecards. Images will support visual learners, and listening to correct, native pronunciation will help you speak with a better accent and be better understood. This is especially important for beginners and languages with less predictable pronunciation such as French.
  6. Try to have your notebook, deck of notecards or list of vocabulary words always on you. Practice them when you lie down to sleep, when you ride the subway, or when you have a break from school/work.
  7. Instead of learning random lists, learn words that have a connection to each other. Some example topics include: school or university, family, human communication, government, etc.
  8. Look around your environment and try to label things in your mind. This way you are learning vocabulary that is relevant to you.
  9. Take it a step further and put labels on objects in your surroundings. This is most useful for beginners or those who are struggling to learn new vocabulary in their target language.
  10. Train yourself in drills. For example, write down the ten words you are trying to learn and recall the translation without looking. Or create a story with the new words. Language production is the key to memorizing vocabulary deeply!

 

Conclusion: When learning a new word, your goal should be able to use the word. Grammatical information as well as an example in natural context are ways to boost your chances of using the word correctly and easily. Another important thing to do when learning vocabulary is to repeat. Do not forget to learn correct pronunciation with audio and try searching the word in Google images to get a clear picture in your mind. A great way to improve your comprehension in a foreign language is to do a lot of reading and listening—it helps connect the pieces and after a lot of input you will develop a feeling for the language. Many teachers say that you should at least try to learn one new word a day, but don’t overwhelm yourself with hundreds of new words in just a few days–stick to small goals.

Stay tuned for future posts on tips for speaking and listening in a foreign language and click here for more language-related posts that you don’t want to miss!: Language Learners‘ Toolbox

~ Stephanie F.

 

Countries Travelled (Year-Exchange in Germany)

#places visited while living in Germany

Hello everyone!

I’ve left Germany already and my first three weeks in Kiev have flown by! I’m enjoying my Russian lessons here and am staying busy. I’ll be sharing some new stuff soon 😉

In the meantime, I wanted to do a short, fun blog entry.. about the places I went while living in Germany! To make it more interesting, I’ve also listed each country’s name in the languages that I speak/study in order of decreasing fluency (English, German, Russian, French.) The only country that I had been to before was Germany**.

 

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countries visited

  1. Germany – Deutschland – Германия -Allemagne
  2. Slovenia – Slovenien – Словения – Slovénie
  3. Switzerland – die Schweiz – Швейцария -Suisse
  4. Liechtenstein – Liechtenstein -Лихтенштейн – Liechtenstein
  5. Austria – Österreich – Австрия – Autriche
  6. Lithuania – Litauen – Литва – Lituanie
  7. Greece – Griechenland -Греция – Grèce
  8. France – Frankreich – Франция – France
  9. Poland – Polen – Польша – Pologne
  10. Hungary – Ungarn – Венгрия – Hongrie
  11. Czech Republic- Tschechien – Чехия – Czechia
  12. Ukraine – Ukraine – Украина – Ukraine

 

I hope to tell you about the amazing city of Kiev soon.

Best of luck! ~Stephanie F.

 

**Note: this is not a full list of all countries I’ve ever visited. It only covers places travelled during my year-long exchange in Germany 🙂