10 Ukrainian Words I Learned in Kiev

 

McDonald’s-ua
Yes, people speak Ukrainian and Russian in Kiev. But advertisements and television programs tend to be in Ukrainian, the official language. 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. Ukrainian has one more case and an additional imperfective future verb tense. Hooray for declination and conjugation in Slavic languages xD Below you will learn some differences in vocabulary that I picked up in Kiev while I attended Russian lessons for seven weeks.

 

Ukrainian – Russian – English

  1. так (tak) – да (da) – yes 

  2. привіт (pryvit) – привет (privet) – hi

  3. доброго ранку (dobrovo rankoo) – доброе утро (dobroye ootra) – good morning 

  4. доброго дня (dobrovo dnya) – добрый день (dobryy den’) – good afternoon

  5. дякую (dyakooyu) – спасибо (spasiba) – thanks

  6. будь ласка (bud’ laska)– пожалуйста (pozhaloosta) – please/you’re welcome

  7. великий (velykyy) – большой (bol’shoy)- big (false friend: великий means great in Russian)

  8. це (tse) – это (ehto) – this/it

  9. кава (kava) – кофе (kofe) – coffee 

  10. горілка (xhorilka) – водка (vodka)- vodka (Ukrainian “г” has a different sound: “xh” not “g”)

 

Comparison of Ukrainian and Russian alphabets:

ukrainian alphabet

RussianAlphabet

 

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!
Чудового дня! / Have a lovely day!
❤ Stephanie

Two Exercises for Improving your German Vocabulary

Hello everyone!

Glad to have you on my blog =)

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:

Exercise 1:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.*
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.

 

Exercise 2:

  1. Select a topic (for example: animals, nationalities, professions.)
  2. Jot down words you already know.
  3. Search them online for natural examples from native speakers. For this I recommend: Tatoeba, a collection of sentences and translations or use a dictionary to find related words. I recommend dict.cc.

Let’s use the word Kellner (waiter):

Kellner example
By searching dict.cc, we learned that instead of saying “ich bin Kellner von Beruf” you can also use “arbeiten als.” More colloquial, would be the verb “kellnern.” There are also further collocations like “eine Stelle annehmen.” Dict.cc also gives grammatical information and synonyms at the top of each entry (not shown here.)

 

 

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:

 

I hope it helped! I’m going to use the first exercise to help with my French self-study and the second one to expand my Russian vocabulary.

Have a great morning/day/evening,

Stephanie ❤

Tips for Native English Speakers Learning Russian (Part 2)

For tips #1-5 click here—>

fifth-tip-part-1.jpg

 

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

 

My Resources for Learning French

Dear readers,

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: 

img_2485-2
A bi-lingual dictionary is useful for translating and building vocabulary (beginner, intermediate, advanced students. Although, I also recommend monolingual dictionaries for serious language learners.)

 

img_2488
I really like the selection of texts in this book! I read before bed (sometimes aloud.) A great exercise to is to re-read texts several times after translating them into English. You can also pick out sentences (or vocab words) you like to use in your speaking.

 

img_2471
These texts are more advanced, but they are great for advanced beginner/intermediate students, who want some immersion in French

 

img_2472
I had an A1 class during my exchange in Germany. I learned French through German (my second language.) I had a great teacher, who used games to train our skills. The CDs, accompanying vocab book, and grammar cheat sheet (not pictured) help take the lessons to the next level

 

img_2473

img_2474-1
I like working with this book because the dialogues and explanations stick with me. Although, I had it for German a few years ago and didn’t like it

 

img_2487-2
Great book for learning irregular French verbs & conjugations of French tenses

 

 

 

img_2519
This my current “textbook.” It covers more grammar than the A1 textbook did and serves as a great road-map and reference guide for French grammar

 

img_2476-2
This workbook brings it all together~ exercises to make use of what I’ve learned

 

Let me know what you thought of this post and if you are interested in the language challenges mentioned!

Je vous remercie d’avoir lu mon blog

❤ Stephanie

Going beyond the textbook~ learning to speak a foreign language (Pt. 2)

You can find Part 1 here—> “I want to improve my speaking in a foreign language” (Pt. 1)

“Language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides.” – Rita Mae Brown

 

beach dawn dusk hd wallpaper
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

 

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.

II) What I consider immersion (taken from my article on learning Russian):

  • 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 your target language
  • c) Teaching yourself the language & doing exercises: use YouTube videos and free websites to learn vocabulary and grammar
  • d) Practice & usage: think to yourself, record yourself speaking, write stories and essays, and do A LOT of listening.

 

 

 

 

Best of luck! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below~

Stephanie F.

“I want to improve my speaking in a foreign language” (Pt. 1)

 

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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.

 

 

More speaking tips coming your way~

 

❤ Stephanie

So, you want to start learning Russian? (Five Quick Tips & Book Recommendations)

Dear readers,

This will be a short post about tips on how to learn Russian efficiently.

These were suggestions from my Russian sociology professor (a Russian historian, Chekhov fan and funny guy) for our five-week stay in Russia 😮

For Part 1 in this series click here —->            russian-meme-1

 

1. Be a bit Russian .

IMG_6059
A bath house in the gardens of Catherine Palace, Pushkin, St Petersburg, Russia (SUMMER 2016)

2. Hear/watch music, cartoons, and movies . I LOVE Soviet Kino!

3. Read classic literature ...

4. Read about history ...

5. Take advantage of free Russian materials on YouTube and VKontakte.

vk-vs-facebook-660x524

 

 

And to conclude this post… some books I recommend for learning Russian:

TEXTBOOKS

VOCAB BOOKS

RUSSIAN READERS

GRAMMAR BOOKS

 

More Russian Related Posts:

Online Resources for Learning Russian—>Free Russian Learning Resources on YouTube

Tips Part 2 (coming soon)

Tips Part 3 (coming soon)

 

 

Напишите мне что-нибудь на русском~

❤ Стефани

 

 

Inspiring Quotes for Language Learners

Dear language learners,

Here are three inspiring quotes for hacking your language learning approach.

German is known as the language of poets (Dichter) and thinkers (Denker). Test your German reading with these insightful quotes in German language!

 

Sprache Deutsch

 

Das Problem zu erkennen (recognize) ist wichtiger als die Lösung (solution) zu erkennen, denn die genaue Darstellung (exact depiction) des Problems führt zur (leads to) Lösung ~Albert Einstein, Physiker

  • Instead of saying “my German is bad,” find your weaker areas.. “I make mistakes conjugating verbs” or “I need to improve my listening.”

 

Es ist nicht genug (enough) zu wissen, man muss es auch anwenden (use it). Es ist nicht genug zu wollen (to want), man muss es auch tun (do it).  ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, deutscher Dichter

  • Put what you know into practice. If you really want something, you also have to do it.

 

Das Geheimnis (secret) des Erfolges (of success) ist die Beständigkeit des Ziels (endurance of the goal.)  ~Benjamin Disraeli, britischer Politiker.

  • Stick with the goals you set!

 

 

Why are you learning German or any other foreign language? How do you stay inspired? What approaches or methods have been most useful for you?

~ 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.

 

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.