Posts Tagged ‘learn russian fast’

The Best Way to Learn Russian

February 21st, 2010

I get asked that question a lot: “Say, what’s the best way to learn Russian?” What a lot of people will say, almost flippantly, is, “Go live in Russia.”

Gosh, thanks buddy. Real practical advice.

And you know what? Even if you could easily just move to Russia, that would NOT be the best way to learn, at first. I know many American and British men who live here in Sevastopol, and they all know scarcely a word of Russian between them. So, living here is not going to do anything. You can learn Russian right at home, where you live now. It’s not where you live, it’s how you learn and how you study that makes the difference.

First, you need a multiple-attack plan for learning. You don’t want one of those Audio Only courses, nor do you want one of those only Pictures programs. No One Trick Pony is going to work. You need to be learning on different levels, with different approaches. For example, some words are best learned through mnemonic devices. (See my learn Russian phrases PowerPhrase videos, for example.)

But there’s lots more words that don’t fit neatly into such sentences. You need to learn them — and all words, really — through the contextual method. (Click here for some articles about Contextual Learning and how it helps to learn Russian.) Not that learning Russian has much to do with learning words.

Yes, I probably need to repeat that: Learning words is not the same as learning a language. Language has rules for how words need to change, and how they can go together. These rules are called grammar. If you really want to learn the language — to be able to have conversations and to understand what people are talking about — you need to be shown Russian grammar correctly.

Unfortunately, most courses either ignore teaching grammar (because it IS devilishly hard) or teach it totally wrong, using charts and tables as if it were chemistry.

So, you need a course that teaches words and phrases in various ways, depending on the words themselves. And a course that teaches grammar as simply and clearly as possible. This is done via Pattern Recognition. You are shown the patterns of the language, and learn how to extrapolate. But what you don’t need to be bogged done with are all the laborious names and nomenclature for grammar. Do you know what modal verbs are in English? Perhaps not, but you certainly are a master at using them, even new verbs, because you understand the patterns.

Finally, you need a course that takes careful review into account. By careful, I don’t just mean a course that asks you the same question each week. No. You can (and should) do that on your own study time. The course itself needs to have you work with your Russian vocabulary. Ask you questions where you are forced to use existing vocabulary in new ways.

That’s what a superior course in Russian should do, and is in my opinion the best way to learn Russian fast, or any language for that matter.

Don’t settle for less.

Tips to Learn Russian Fast

August 19th, 2009

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.