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OK guys, I knew going in that this would be a challenge by having to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and what not (which actually hasn't been that bad). But now I'm starting to get into the noun cases and what not. Don't laugh to hard, but I bought a Russian for Dummies book over the weekend just to at least get the ball rolling and get me started. I've heard one of you guys mention learning Slovio and event posted a link to a Slovio website. But I wanted to have some text and some CD interactive stuff for my ipod as I drive to work and all.
So give me some advice (and some confidence boosting). I know it is going to be hard, but I would hope you guys could share some experiences with me about things you did or other reference material you would suggest. I took Latin in 8th grade, so the idea of noun cases isn't a foreign concept to me. But 8th grade was over 25 years ago...
I was in a similar situation about a year ago.
Background about me: First language I learned was Polish, started learning English in preschool, and about 1.5 years ago started learning Spanish on my own. I'm fluent in English and Polish, and somewhere between Advanced and Fluent in Spanish.
From what I understand, Polish and Russian are fairly similar languages, and I can say that Polish is HARD. I know a guy who started learning it when he was 28 or so, and now speaks it perfectly. He did however, marry a Polish woman who doesn't speak English, and they live in a Polish neighborhood where English is not that necessary. So he gets to practice a lot. I'm sure this can be done for Russian as well. So it's possible!!!! Keep that in mind always!
The single best thing I can suggest is that after a few months of studying, start speaking to people via Skype!! When I was in the learning stages of Spanish, nothing kept me going more than people complimenting me on my Spanish, or that satisfied feeling I had whenever I knew I had a successful conversation. Here are my suggestions:
- First, get a decent grammar book and study it for a few months.
- If you have a smartphone, put a flashcard app on it and study vocabulary during downtime (ie waiting at the doctor's office.)
- If you can take an introductory course in Russian, do it if it will keep you motivated. A few community colleges nearby offer a 4-semester night course in Russian. Look into this if it interests you and see if these courses are available where you live.
- LISTEN!! When you're too tired to read or learn grammar, turn on the Russian news or a movie/TV show in Russian. This will improve your listening ability, as your brain will (slowly) learn to recognize foreign words. Over time, they will become much more familiar.
- Talk to people (explained above)!!
- I took 10 or 15 online Skype lessons (for like $10/hr with this girl from Ecuador). These were extremely useful! I suggest you look into these, especially if you can't take a course, or don't want to in a university setting. Just wanted to throw this out. The benefit here is that these courses are very structured and you get 1-1 attention.
- Audio programs are a great way to practice speaking. These definitely helped me out a lot. Seems like you already have a grasp on these.
- Take it slow. Don't do more than 3 or 4 hours a day. When learning Spanish, I did about 5 hours of grammar practice a week, 10 hours of speaking practice per week, and about 10 hours of listening/watching TV, with some reading thrown in here and there. I feel that had I done any more, I may have actually learned less due to overload.
Good luck! Stay with it, it WILL pay off in the end!
Already sounds like you're on the right track since you now have text as well as audio software to aid you in your learning. These tools are what I initially went out to obtain myself. I don't know what book or audio program you are using, but I've picked up Russian For Beginners by Charles Duff & Dmitri Makaroff (book) and also "Ultimate Russian: Beginner - Intermediate" by Living Language (an 8-disc set of audio learning). I highly recommend both, given the content and the simplified introduction to grammar, noun cases, etc. I had to laugh at the part about Latin. I, too, took Latin in 8th grade! What a privilege!
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I guess my main frustration so far is that I am a bit disappointed in the audio CD that came with the Russian for Dummies book. But then again, what more should I have expected. The audio doesnt correspond with any of the lessons in the book. So all I really need to do is just find a better book with an interactive CD that follows the books lesson plans.
Going to a community college (or regular university for that matter) is not an option for me because the nearest school that even offers Russian is over an hour away and they only offer Spanish at night. And even then, Russian is only taught there seasonally or based on demand. Not to many options other than Spanish here in Middle Tennessee. If I lived in a larger, more densely populated area like california, the northeast or even ATL or south Florida, that would be a more realistic option. But in the fly over states, there just isn't much of a demand for anything other than Spanish.
As someone who has learned Russian already, there is no short-cut. You must go to a Russian speaking country & basically stumble about until you can speak fluently. You'll have incredible problems living in Russia & even getting a visa e.g. you can only apply in your home country & a tourist vias is only 30 days maximum - you must pay for airfares & hotels in advance...
When I was in Russia, all teachers price-gouged so I never took any lesssons and there's basically NO courses to learn Russian as a second language there.
Easier countries are the Ukraine, Serbia, Roumania, etc.
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