How to Learn Russian: Contextual Learning Part 1

February 4th, 2010 by Mark Leave a reply »

This is the first in a series of articles intended to drill in the meaning of Russian words via the potent technique known as Contextual Learning. Contextual Learning is an effective method for drilling the meaning of new words and phrases deep into your language centers, and takes advantage of your own natural ability to learn language. Yes, your own natural ability. You learned one language really well, didn’t you? English? If you did it once, you can do it again. So, get ready to learn….fast!

The words we’ll be learning today:

дождь (Pronounced “dozht”…Sounds like the word “dough” + the end of the word “washed”…the “sht” sound at the end. So, you could spell it: dough-sht…dozht.)

снег (Pronounced “sneg”.)

What we’re going to do is put these Russian words into English sentences so that the meaning is totally clear from context. This is how you learn new words in English, isn’t it? And guess what? There’s no difference! A word is a word. If you can learn a new English word form context, then why not a new Russian word.

Watch how simple this is:

“Don’t forget to take your umbrella,” my mom called out to me. “All those dark clouds, looks like we’re in for some dozht.”

Here’s the other word:

I grew up in Phoenix, and didn’t see sneg until the time my Dad took me skiing when I was eight.

Let’s try them both again, in new sentences:

I left my car window open for ten minutes while I popped into the grocery store, and sure enough my whole front seat got soaked when it suddenly started to dozht.

I loved it as a kid, waking up in the morning on a weekday in winter and seeing a drifts of sneg on the ground…you just knew school was going to be cancelled.

So, obviously, “dozht” is the Russian word for “rain” and “sneg” is the word for “snow.” Try to make your own, and incorporate the words into your vocabulary. I like to insert them into idioms, like: “The outdoor event will be held, dozht or shine.” Or, “Frosty the Snegman.”

Resources: contextual learning

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  1. Natasha says:

    Thank you so much for posting this, I am very familiar with Russian for my family and i are actually from Russia but My significant other really wants to learn my Russian history and language because, yes, he is american so I’m trying to teach him and I did not know where to start so Contextual learning, as you posted, will very much help

  2. rodion says:

    thanks for this contextual language i have been trying to learn russian for 2 years now i have finaly masterd alphabet and many woords i now belive that i will finish soon thanks Mark !!!!

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