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Learning Russian - Your Experiences!

 
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Lyle



Joined: 17 Dec 2003
Posts: 5
Location: Kansas

PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:12 pm    Post subject: Learning Russian - Your Experiences! Reply with quote

For those of you who have studied Russian, what have your experiences been? How long have you studied and how quickly have you progressed? What were the particular challenges and/or successes you have experienced? What method of learning has worked best for you?

I am hoping to teach EFL in Russia before long, am beginning to learn the language, and would love to know what to expect!
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Buck Turgidson



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 96

PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2004 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started studying Russian about four months before I went to Ukaine a few years back. I bought a beginning Russian textbook and went through it, memorizing the vocabulary and grammar rules, and doing all the excercises. Of course, when I got there I could hardly understand a thing. But I learned quickly and after having lived there a year I would say my Russian was fair.

I minored in German, so learning another language wasn't totally unfamiliar. I did have a lot of trouble with Russian verbs, especially verbs of motion.

I would suggest getting a beginning Russian texbook with a tape and learn some of the basic phrases, numbers, telling time etc. When you get there you will learn more quickly and thoroughly.

Try not to fall into the trap of speaking English all the time. A lot of your Russian acquaintances will be studying English and it is easy just to speak English all the time. Try to cultivate friendships with people who speak no English. You can also find a Russian teacher there without much trouble.

Buck
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waxwing



Joined: 29 Jun 2003
Posts: 719
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent advice from Buck there. Soglacen Smile
Especially about cultivating non-English speaking friends. I've got one small circle of friends like that now (some university students) and it's *priceless* for the language practice. Last night I went out and spoke tolka pa russki .. (in a bar bizarrely named 'Pizza' .. all dingy and neon-lit.. honestly it was straight out of a David Lynch film..)
About Pimsleur, I've heard good and bad. Mostly, I've heard good about Pimsleur for other languages and bad about Pimsleur for Russian. But I'd suggest a quick browse through the forum at www.masterrussian.com. You'll find discussions about such things there in great detail.
Personally I went for the New Penguin Russian course to start me off. I can heartily recommend that book.
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Lyle



Joined: 17 Dec 2003
Posts: 5
Location: Kansas

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buck and Waxwing, I appreciate the advice. I have checked out www.masterrussian.com and am finding it helpful. I am already taking a class through a community college and may consider taking an intensive course somewhere before going to Russia if it seems necessary. Right now, unfortunately I know few people who speak Russian. .. guess that will have to come later. I'll have to look into that Penguin Russian Book . . . sounds good. Ciao!
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Brooks



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1369
Location: Sagamihara

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2004 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

before I spent my year in Irkutsk, I had studied for four years.
I was lucky, since I could take Russian at my public high school in New York.
After I graduated, Russian was not offered anymore.
Back then I learned grammar and reading mostly.

In Irkutsk, I found that I needed speaking and listening practice most of all.
I wished I could have learned Russian through videos.

Also, I felt that the texts that I had used in the 80s were old fashioned.
It would have been nice to have learned slang.
Russian men can swear a lot, and so many phrases have yebat in them.

I had the toughest time with the cases and the two types of verbs.

I wish I had learned cursive in Russian better, since it is used more than I had thought.

I bought the Penguin book a long time ago and liked it.

One thing that is interesting is that I found Russian to be more precise than English. I think it is easier to translate from English into Russian, rather than the other way around.
If you look at a dictionary, the Russian to English part should be longer than the English to Russian part.

Russian TV was hard for me to follow. Russian radio was easier for me to understand.
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Ulyanov



Joined: 18 Jan 2004
Posts: 25
Location: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2004 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in first year Russian at my university, and I'm considering going to Russia for my first TEFL job, just so I can learn more Russian. I wish I could take more at school, but I finish soon and don't have the room for it. I started learning out of a book called Russian in 10 Minutes a Day, a few months before I started class, and found it helped some. Some of the pronunciations were off, but I picked up cyrillic much faster. Anyway, I wouldn't say I'm fluent or anything, but it's been less than a year of not serious study, and I'm finding it much easier than the French I took in elementary/junior high school. I probably know more Russian now than I ever did French, although that can probably be attributed to lousy teaching in French.
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waxwing



Joined: 29 Jun 2003
Posts: 719
Location: China

PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brooks wrote:


One thing that is interesting is that I found Russian to be more precise than English. I think it is easier to translate from English into Russian, rather than the other way around.
If you look at a dictionary, the Russian to English part should be longer than the English to Russian part.


The dictionary asymmetry is true - but that is only evidence of the fact that Russian is a synthetic rather than an analytic language, which generates meaning from the addition of prefixes and suffixes .. it doesn't mean that Russian is more precise, imho.
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2004 7:26 am    Post subject: Precision Reply with quote

Russian, I reckon, is less precise as a result of having less verb tenses (who speaks vs. who is speaking) and a lack of specific words for specific occasions (you can't say I'm thirsty in Russian, you have to say either you want to drink 'hochetsya pit' or that you are suffering from thirst, but this sounds weird!)

I had a similar experience- totally unable to learn French (or Gaelic) in school despite two and about 11 years respectively. I picked up Russian within a month or two at university. That said, there are a number of 'barrier' levels to overcome in Russian. Verbs of motion, sovershennyi and nesovershennyi verbs, and knowing how to use them to render perfect tenses still torture me!
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