Saturday, 16 August 2014

A different way of learning

When I first started to learn Russian in 2006 there was not nearly the amount of  information on the web that there is now. I don't remember any videos, podcasts, blogs, etc. I think masterrussian was about, but not much more. I signed up for a weekly class (I was lucky to have one nearby), and bought a BBC course, basic phrasebook and dictionary. I worked through the course book and the BBC course and that was about it. It didn't really occur to me that I could learn a different way.

I still use a notebook and pen (yes, I got through school and most of Uni without a computer!), but I've also been enjoying exploring other tools I can use online.

In particular I find memrise really helpful. If I don't have much time I can just jump on there for 5 or 10 minutes, and it's really been improving my vocab. When I read in Russian I'm able to decipher more as I can pick out words I've learnt from there. I also like the fact it's very visual. I've also started using anki, although not as much as it's more time consuming to make my own flashcards.

I'm still using the course books and CDs, but am also utilising blogs, podcasts, youtube, forums, etc - not only to learn about Russian, but also language learning in general. Sometimes I spend more time reading about language learning than I do actually learning the language! I have found lots of great tips though, and lots of different ideas on how to approach languages. If something isn't working I change it, or if I get bored I use something else. I've been trying to read something in Russian everyday, and although I don't understand much of it my reading is speeding up. A good tip (I think I got from fluent in 3 months) was to go to wikipedia and change it to your target language. I've read a few articles in Russian doing this, and could surprisingly translate more than I thought! 

I have also had lots of success rolling my r's! It's taken so much practise (daily!), but I'm much better now. It is still difficult to use it in actual words, but I'm getting there :D

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Cyrillic alphabet

When first learning Russian the idea of learning a whole new alphabet can seem daunting. Actually it's easier than it looks, although I've found the cursive version of the letters harder to learn.


There are plenty of resources on the web for learning the Cyrillic script. You could try here or one of the many youtube videos . I have found this book helpful. The good news is a lot of Russian words are phonetic, so you can 'sound them out'. Of course there are exceptions to every 'rule', and I have found that Russian speakers sometimes pronounce sounds/letters/words differently depending on which part of Russia they are from.

So, I've been reacquainting myself with the alphabet (and some of the rules) over the last few days, as well as continuing to practising that elusive rolling r!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Learning Russian (again)

I've recently began re-learning Russian. Although I was nowhere near fluent I did manage to make myself understood probably about 75% of the time when I was in Russia. I have several books and CDs, and am also making use of the many internet resources - youtube and the like.  I recently discovered fluent in 3 months, plus a few other helpful websites. I especially like Adventures of the Directionally Challenged
Unfortunately, I tend to spend my time reading blogs about languages, rather than learning the language!

I'm listing some blogs/website/articles here on learning Russian. I haven't looked at them all so they may be a bit hit and miss. Some are aimed at children, but I find that they can be just as useful for adult learners! - there's lots more on youtube.
There are disney songs in Russian which is helpful if you know the English versions. Although of course the translations aren't always perfect. Here's Let it Go

I'm also learning roll my Rrrrrrs...kind of! I have been practising daily, and driving my family a bit mad. I have randomly managed to roll my rs a few times, but not on demand and it is very frustrating. There are several websites/youtube videos demonstrating how to do it (and lots of discussions about whether there is a rolling r gene or not!).  Here's one website.  I can't say that I've found one particular technique more effective than another. Will keep practising though!