Tips for Native English Speakers Learning Russian (Part 2)

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