Wouldn’t it be great if you could just snap your fingers and BOOM! you could suddenly speak Russian?
The way technology progresses, I’m sure there will come a day when we’ll all be able to upload any language we want directly into our brain, like in the movie THE MATRIX. Sci-Fi musings aside, there still are things you can do to learn Russian fast.
First, learn to read Russian. If you think it’s too hard, think again. Given the right training, most people can learn to read in a few hours, and feel totally comfortable after a few weeks. If you haven’t already gotten started, be sure to watch this post on learning to read russian videos.
Meanwhile, boost your confidence by learning a slew of cognates. A cognate is a word which is very similar between languages. The words for television, computer, telephone, music, guitar, piano, doctor, etc are extremely similar in Russian and English, and require you only to slightly Russify your pronunciation. This is a way to acquire vocabulary fast.
Most people know about the benefit of using flashcards, where the English word is written on one side, and the Russian version on the other. They realize the cards are important, but few end up using them. Also, there are better ways to construct a flash card that lends itselft to learning Russian fast. Go to Target, WalMart, a grocery store go somewhere and buy yourself some index cards. Blank on one side, lined on the other. Cut them in half so that you have twice as many to work with. For 99 cents, you’ll end up with 200, and that’s a lot of new Russian words to add to your vocabulary. Once you start working with them, be sure to put a mark by the words that you miss. The more marks a word has, the more you need to review it. And finally, be sure to flip the deck over and test yourself on the Russian words as you search for the English meaning. (For a more detailed video of how to work with flashcards try this earlier post on Russian flashcards.
The timing, though, of WHEN you review words is as important as how long you study. Pretend, for a moment, that you only want to memorize a single word in Russian. For example, chicken, which is kooreetsa. You could write the word on your study card, with the English version on the other side. And you could sit and practice that one word for two hours straight. But that would be a monumental waste of time. Instead, spend one minute reading and pronouncing the Russian word kooreetsa. Then think about something else. Maybe read a page of something on the net, or watch a few minutes of TV. And then come back to your lone study card. What was the word? If you don’t know, try giving yourself only the first letter. K— Ahh, there it is Kooreetsa!
Then, go away from it for an hour. Watch a whole TV show, or go have dinner with the family. And then test yourself again. If you get it right, you’ll need to wait much longer the next time. Try it again in the morning. Make the gaps between review sessions longer when you get it right, and shorter whenever you forget it.
Finally, give up on listening to the radio in your car. Instead, make a commitment to making your drive time your Russian study time. Download Russian MP3s to your player, or find (or make) Russian tapes for an old-fashioned analog tape player. Whatever technology you use, the effect will the same: Quality listening time while driving. Don’t underestimate the value of this method. The time you spend in your car can literally be life-changing if you use it to full advantage. We may not have immediate upload capabilities like the characters in THE MATRIX, but all the same we have time-tested techniques which will help you learn Russian fast.