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Learning Russian

30 replies

Shopgirl1 · 27/04/2018 22:09

Just wondering if anyone is learning Russian? I think it’s a beautiful language, I did lessons for about a year, found it tough, in particular the cases - I’m familiar with cases from German, but the different endings per case and gender depending on whether the word ends in a soft or hard sound just completely confused me, not to mention the two verbs for every I gave up when I should have stuck at it.
Can you get to a good level in it over time - I’d love to be able to read some of the Russian classics in Russian - looking for a bit of encouragement to get back to it.

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Prokupatuscrakedatus · 05/05/2018 22:43

I am trying to learn Russian - on my own at the moment. It is a lovely language.
DD (her school demands 2 MFL and her 2nd is Russian taught by a strict old school teacher from Petersburgh) says this can be done.

I use Duolingo and Babbel for basic vocabulary and pronunciation and Russisch-online for lots of excercises, when I have mastered the basics I'll get a teacher (if I budget right). The endings are not that much of a problem - aspect is.

Shopgirl1 · 11/05/2018 13:24

Off to look at russisch online...
How long have you been learning it?

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Shopgirl1 · 11/05/2018 13:26

And how do you stay motivated learning it by self study? That’s the hard part for me - I speak a couple of other languages well, but learned in classes and spending time in the countries. I don’t see chance to go there in the short - medium term, but it’s such a beautiful language, I really want to improve.

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Racecardriver · 11/05/2018 13:27

That thing about Russia is that it doesn't really matter if you get things a little bit wrong, you can still understand it. Essentially you need to get the basics for working Russian and then pick up the nuances invert time. It doesn't have to be perfect immediately. Just keep trying.

Prokupatuscrakedatus · 12/05/2018 19:50

I started two years ago but very slowly (There were other things that needed to be done).
For motivation - I simply love languages (I read grammar books for fun) and I have set time apart every day for a bit of excerciese or revision.

Shopgirl1 · 14/05/2018 12:52

I love languages, I love being able to read and watch films in German and Spanish and speak to people, but find the initial stages with a new language frustrating, I guess I just need to stick at it and practice.

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PlayingForKittens · 14/05/2018 12:56

I did Russian at uni. I'd love to get back into it, it has been far too long and I'm more than just a little rusty.
As you get better try reading books that you know well in English. I used to read Harry potter in Russian, if I didn't know a word I could figure it out from context because I knew the book so well.

Huggybear16 · 26/05/2018 10:01

Me! My son's dad's (exP) first language is Russian as he is from a Russian-Latvian family. They all speak to my son in Russian too. I liked the Russian Made Easy videos on YouTube to start with

amigababy · 29/05/2018 13:20

Hello russian learners, me too. I've done about 6 months with Babel but got fed up in the end, so much vocabulary and not enough grammar so I've stopped that now and have a couple of real text books, I need to know the why of languages, not just pile on more and more words. Taking it slowly as the cases aren't going in my head very easily.
I try and do a bit on

Dh is doing Babel Spanish and he's had a lot more progression and grammar practice with that course, I'm jealous of how much better that course is , so much more detail.

deplorabelle · 03/06/2018 19:02

Hello me too!!! I had lessons for a while at university but they weren't part of my course and they fell by the wayside as finals approached. I'm using Duolingo (which is frustrating but I actually do it) and grammar / text books which are better but it's harder to carve out the time.

I find the alphabet quite a big barrier. I'm getting much more fluent at reading typed Russian from Duolingo but handwriting is harder. I can write something and an hour later I can't read it back without stumbling. Just lots of practice needed but I'm sooooo disappointed with myself for finding it so hard

Will look up the other resources on this thread Smile

Huggybear16 · 13/06/2018 00:34


I have the same problem. I find reading printed text relatively straightforward compared to handwriting.

Ц Ш Щ Л Ж Ч Г М И Т - all look like wavy lines to me when written as part of a word! DS's grandmother writes long letters with his birthday cards.

Maybe with more practice I will be able to recognise words rather than having to identify every single handwritten letter.

deplorabelle · 14/06/2018 12:09

I am getting better actually... I am doing more writing practice (but mostly on computer so handwritten is still lagging). My Russian reading has come on massively since I started doing it. DS's school give him a Linguascope login and their exercises have been really good.

Still need to spend time sitting down doing handwritten writing exercises though.

deplorabelle · 14/06/2018 12:12

Sorry should have at mentioned you @Huggybear16

Maybe if you try and write letters to Grandma it will have a knockon improvement on reading. I definitely feel like some words are coming into focus a lot more nowadays and I can read them instinctively without even worrying about whether they are in Latin or Cyrillic

Prokupatuscrakedatus · 15/06/2018 19:07

I've bought myself little seethrough sticky pads for my keyboard, so that I know where the letters are when I switch to Russian.
And I bought a book "writing practice" designed to teach handwriting. Sends me back right to my primary school days when we had one hour of "Schönschreiben" every week.
Oh, and thanks to You Tube I listened to some young woman intoducing her bullet journal set up in Russian last night. I think of setting up a playlist "listening exercises".

deplorabelle · 19/06/2018 06:31

Brilliant! Genius idea about the YouTube bullet journal

NuttyNutty · 10/07/2018 22:09

My OH is studying Russian, I am helping as much as I can as it is my first language. I find it really interesting as he asks questions I would never think of. Makes me learn new things about my own language all the time :)
Feel free to PM me if you are stuck and need advice, I will try to help. I am not a professional teacher though :P

deplorabelle · 12/07/2018 07:59

Thank you @NuttyNutty there is a thing that mystifies me so much I can't even explain what My problem is.

Sometimes Duolingo uses своим when I would have expected моим or твоим. I haven't worked that out at all!

NuttyNutty · 12/07/2018 09:02

@deplorabelle Свой means "one's own" and is normally used when there is already a preposition in the sentence or it is very clear who or what we are talking about.
Like "Напишите свои имена в верхнем углу" - "Write your names in the top corner".
It is clear whose names need to be written (from the ending of напишите), so saying "ваши имена" would be a bit like repeating yourself, it makes a sentence clumsy. So, it better to use свои here.
Using ваши is not wrong or anything, it is more of a style thing than grammar thing. But a native speaker would always use свои in this case without fail.

NuttyNutty · 12/07/2018 09:14

Russian is generally big on dropping unnecessary words where things can be expressed with grammar. This must be really confusing for students but actually makes sentences shorter and clearer, like вечерело (it was getting closer to evening) or поехали (let's go) or я сама (I will do it myself said by a female).

deplorabelle · 12/07/2018 09:28

Thank you @NuttyNutty that is so helpful. That's what I originally thought it was but then I thought I encountered a Duolingo sentence that disproved it. I underestimated quite how much the grammar allows you to leave out....

NuttyNutty · 12/07/2018 09:49

@deplorabelle what was the sentence if you still remember it? Свой can be used for other things as well, maybe it was one of them?

deplorabelle · 12/07/2018 09:56

Sorry @NuttyNutty I can't remember but I think it was probably similar to your "write your names" example. In my English way I assumed the pronoun would need to have been said already in the sentence.

NuttyNutty · 12/07/2018 10:11

@deplorabelle I see Wink
Yeah, the worst thing about all the Russian grammar is that even little things may carry a lot of meaning... However, don't stress too much, even if you don't get it 100% right you will still be understood (and lauded for trying). I have great respect for people who dare to explore the Russian Grammar Jungle. Grin

Prokupatuscrakedatus · 15/07/2018 10:17

I have just seen your post - thank you for your kind offer.
MY DD has Russian teachers from St. Petersburg, Omsk and Moskow - she pronounces things differently from the "pronouncation guide" I received with my coursework.
How far do Russian varieties differ from one another?
(i. e. German - I do understand peolple from let's say Cologne or Hamburg. I could not understand my MIL from Baden - when I first met her.)

NuttyNutty · 15/07/2018 11:24

@Prokupatuscrakedatus In my experience there is very little variation in Russian pronounciation, most people speak pretty much "like on TV", especially the teachers. There are some regional accents, but they are not very strong. I am sure that most students would not even notice.
The issue here is mostly with pronounciation guides I think. My husband has problems with them as well as they do not really correspond with how I pronounce things.
Main issues are:

  • Letters/sounds that do not exist in most other languages like ы, ь & ъ, щ, ц & ч. I've seen attempts to describe those in Latin letters but it is never very good. The best way is to just listen to Russians and copying them.
  • Letters е, я, ё, ю. These sound like they have little y sound in front of them when they are in the beginning of the word or syllable or come after ь & ъ. In all other cases y sound disappears and е is pronounced as э and in я, ю & ё it kind of merges in and sounds like German Umlaut ä, ü & ö. Still, most books keep y sound in the pronounciation guide for some reason which is simply not correct.
  • Stress in Russian mostly shows which of the wowels should be pronounced clearly and not the actual stress (when you speak quickly, the stress is not really audible anyway). The non-stressed wowels normally get "eaten" and are pronounced very unclearly, to the point that o sounds like a, e sounds like и and я sounds like e. This is rarely reflected in textbooks. In fact, most foreigners speaking Russian give themselves away immediately by pronouncing every wowel as written. It does not make things unclear or difficult to understand, just sounds very un-russian Grin

I hope this is not too complicated... Let me know if it's unclear, I will try to explain better.
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