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.

 

Saint Petersburg 2016
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.

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