Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Of Going after Russian with the Cavalry

I don't want to speak too soon but I think I may have cracked this learning Russian melarkey. Since the beginning of the year I've worked out how best I learn, when in the day works well for me and just what type of language course or courses suits me best.
I'm doing a hour every day first thing in the morning before I swim. This is an hour's audio work with Pimleur's Russian. This course is great if you just want to learn how to say Russian phrases but if you're after grammar it's next to useless. Enter Michele Thomas's "Russian Foundation Course" by Natasha Bershadski. This is by far the best thing I found if you want to get to the centre of what is a very complex language and make your way out alive. Finally, there's RussianPod101.com which, for a monthly subscription, gives you access to a whole suite of lessons online from Beginners right through to Advanced. Their lessons are in short bites of around 20 minutes. They're best I find for learning the written language and improving your vocabulary. Vocab is best augmented by introducing associations and the more silly and vivid the more they're likely to work for me at least.

I've also discovered what doesn't work for me. You can buy a host of Apps offering the Top 1,000 Russian words to learn but unless a word is in context I struggle to remember it. Russian films with English subtitles haven't helped much either. If they're good I tend to forget it's a language lesson and up enjoying the movie. If they're bad (and there's a good few Russian films in this league I've discovered) I tend to nod off.

Above all, you have to keep at it. It's a slog but one made much easier now with Apps, and MP3s and Ipads. How we managed in years gone by with just a teacher and a piece of chalk I'll never know. Perhaps most of us never did.




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