Tips for Native English Speakers Learning Russian (Part 2)

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—>

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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

 

 

~Stephanie

 

Update ~ 150 Most Useful Words in French

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January 2019
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I’ve been working a lot on creative projects this year
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Die Qual der Wahl/ the agony of choice: Still not sure where my many interests will lead me but I hope to get back to travelling soon and decide my next plan (teaching English, master’s degree, writing or activism) 

 

Dear readers,

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??

In my post, I made a mistake and said 200, but it is indeed 150. Here is the list of words I used: Top 150 most useful frequent nouns

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 use the spaced repetition technique, which is very talked about in the polyglot community. Taking the time to hand-write the cards and search in a dictionary can’t hurt your memory either 😉

This is how I am making my cards: I am using a bilingual dictionary for translation and recording correct, natural sentences since my goal is to be able to use these words in my own speech. For this I recommend: Tatoeba, a collection of sentences and translations.

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

Tips for learning vocabulary in a foreign language: Ten Tips for Learning Vocabulary in a Foreign Language

Series on improving your speaking in a foreign language: Improving Your Speaking in a Foreign Language

I also recommend three more language learning articles on my blog in this order:

  1. How to Learn a Foreign Language
  2. 7 Common Mistakes Language Learners Make + Some General Tips
  3. Quick Tips for Achieving Fluency* in a Foreign Language

 

Sincerely,

Stephanie