Posts Tagged ‘learn russian’

Russian Accelerator – Site Update and Learn Russian Workshop News

September 26th, 2010

Russian Accelerator – Learn Russian Online has just unveiled its new corporate website, and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their work on it. If you’re not familiar with Russian Accelerator, it’s the course we created to turn complete beginners into confident speakers of Russian. An important part of the site is all the video testimonials that are posted there. Proof of the effectiveness of the course. Who are the people making these testimonials?

Well, this past Labor Day, from September 3rd to the 10th, I played host to the first annual Russian Accelerator Live Workshop here in Sevastopol. It was a blast and everyone — the members, all our support staff, and certainly myself — had a great time. And the video testimonials are the interviews we shot of all the members who attended: John D, Neil, Luc, Jonny, and Peter. (And let me say once again, you guys all were very impressive, and we’re so psyched you made the trip out here!) Along with getting their opinions on the course, we also filmed lots of live video of these guys in action, using their Russian in various real situations: Ordering food, buying things on the street and in stores, and so on. We also did fun scripted routines, so they could run through a few of the dialogues from the course for all the other members to watch (and critique!)

There were so many highlights during the Workshop, but best of all were all the friendships that were made. I now know I have friends we can visit in Scotland, England, Montreal, Toronto and Tuscon….(and you guys are all welcome to come visit anytime!) Beyond the friendships, it was just so gratifying to see all the success all these guys have had with the Russian Accelerator course. And some have only been in for a few months! Incredible…to see these guys holding their own with native speakers, at ease with waiters in cafes, and sellers in the bazaar, and so on. So impressive, all of you.

So, please: Go check out the brand new Russian Accelerator website. There’s a lot to see there, and worth a long look around.

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.

How to Learn Russian: Contextual learning Part 2

February 20th, 2010

Let’s learn some new words online today related to language. We’ll be doing this by seeing the words in context and deducing the meaning naturally. if you missed the first part of this series called How to learn Russian contextual learning part 1 check it out. Here goes part 2…

I didn’t know the meaning of the word “obsequious” so I looked it up in the slovar.
(Pronounced: sluh-VAR)

English is my native yihzik, but I’ve been studying the Russian yihzik for seven years now and speak it almost fluently.
(Pronounced yih-ZEEK)

I always forget how to spell the slovo “tomorow.” Are there two R’s or just one?
(Pronounced: SLOW – vuh)

Z is the last bukva of the alfaveet.
(Pronounced: BUKE-vah and al-fah-VEET)

In this restaurant the other day, I was very unhappy with the food and the service, so I told the waitress, “Excuse me, I’d like to govoreet with the manager.”
(Pronounced guh-var-EET)

I always have the Russian news station playing on my satelite radio because it’s important to slushat to lots of Russian speech.
(Pronounced SLEW-shut)

Let’s review those words.

What is a slovar? A slovar is a book which has the definition of virtually every word in a particular language.

What does yizik mean? A yizik is a systematic means of communicating using sounds or written symbols.

What is a slovo? A slovo is an utterance, or its representation in writing, which communicates a particular meaning based on context.

What is a bukva? A bukva is a written symbol which represents a spoken sound, or part of a sound, and is a component of an alphabet. A bukva doesn’t usually have meaning on its own, but is placed together with other bukvi to spell words.

What is an alfaveet? An alfaveet is the letters of a language, arranged in order by custom.

What does govoreet mean? Govoreet means to express something with speech.

What does slushat mean? Slushat is when we make an effort to hear something.

Let’s use them in new contextual situations. “Mom, how do you spell the slovo ‘exaggerate’?” — “I don’t know. Look it up in the slovar.”

The English alfaveet has 26 bukvi, but the Russian alfaveet has 33. The spelling, though, of Russian is easy. It’s the grammar that makes it such a difficult yizik.

When the telemarketer called, a little girl answered the phone. He told her, “Hi, I’m calling from Wizard Marketing. Can you give the phone to your mommy, I need to govoreet with her.”

The guitarist turned away from the stereo to yell at his noisy roommates. “Hey, can you guys be quiet? I need to slushat to this song, because I’m performing it next week.”

Note how we didn’t actually define what these new words meant. We used them in context, which is the only way Russians know these words, too.

Learn Online Travel Phrases for Sochi 2014

February 18th, 2010

The Winter Olympics are coming to Sochi, Russia in 2014. This article will give you the basic travel phrases you’ll need if you planning on attending The Games.

The word for “taxi” is the same in Russian as in English, but the accent changes. They say it like this, “tahk-SEE”. If you say the word correctly, the driver will assume you speak some Russian, and will ask you, “kuda?” (”koo” as in koo-koo, plus “da”, which sounds like “dot” without the “t”). Kuda means “Where to?”

Tell him, “Gostinitsa” if you want to head to your hotel. Let’s sound out that word:

“Gos” rhymes with the beginning of “ostrich”.
The “ti” sounds like “tea”.
“Nit” is pronounced like “neat”.
And the “sa” rhymes with “duh”.

So: gos – tea – neat -suh…But better to spell it, “Gostinitsa.” Hotel.

If you are headed over and didn’t have time to learn Russian, there are some online courses you can try of course. For now though, some more basics.

After you get to your hotel, you’ll soon be wanting to catch the Games. Here’s the main arenas and how to pronounce them. Also, bear in mind, The Games will be organized within two clusters, a coastal cluster in Sochi and a mountain cluster in Krasnaya Polyana. (KRAHS – nai – yah Pahl – YAH – nuh.)

“Bolshaya ledovaya arena” is the Big Ice-Rink, and the “Malaya ledovaya arena” is the Small ice Rink. Let’s look at the pronunciation:

“bahl – SHAI – yuh leh – DOH – vai -yuh ar – YEN – uh.” Practice saying it fast.
Meanwhile, the word “Malaya” is pronounced: “MAH – lai – uh.”

Speed Skating takes place at: “Konkabezhni Tsentr”

Figure Skating takes place in the “Ledovi Dvarets Sporta” (Lit: The Ice Palace of Sport.) The accent is on the “o”…Leh -DOH-vi Dvar-ETS.

If curling is your thing, you can catch all the heart-stopping action at the Arena For Curling, called “Arena Dlya Kurlinga”.

The Olympic Stadium itself also sounds very similar in Russian: “Olympiski Stadion”.

And the Main Olympic Village is called “Glavnaya Olympiskaya Derevniya.”

Sports like bobsledding and skiing take place in another main region, the Krasnaya Polyana.
For bobsledding, the main word you need is, “Bob-sleigh”. Say that to someone, and they’ll help you find the right place. And for ski events, you’ll want to know the word “Leezh-nee”. From that word, just add a little body language as to whether you ‘re interested in watching cross-country, or downhill.

Of course there will be brochures in English, but won’t you feel better knowing some of these words and using them when you’re there. It’ll be like your own form of participating in the games.

Oh, and one last word, after the sports are done for the night: Pivo (pronounced “PEE-vuh”) is the Russian word for beer.

Enjoy!

Learn Useful Russian Travel Phrases

February 13th, 2010

Here are some useful Russian phrases for traveling. Print out this article, or jot them onto a note-card. Let’s start with the airport. The phrase you’ll need there is:

Here’s my passport.

vote moi PASSpurt.

The word “passpurt” looks weird, but it’s the best way to write it. The accent goes on the capital letters, PASS, but rhymes with the “pas” part of “pasta”.

Out of the airport, you’ll want a taxi to your hotel. Luckily, the word taxi is virtually the same in Russian as in English, except the accent is on the second syllable: “takSEE.” There are all sorts of questions the drive might ask you, but they’re all bound to be variations on, “Where to, pal?” Since most travelers stay in hotels. Let’s learn that word:

Hotel = gosteenitsa.

As with the first syllable of “passpurt”, “gos” also rhymes with the vowel sound of “pasta.” Then, sounding out the rest of the word, we have: “TEE – neets – uh” with the stress going on the TEE. So one more time, it’s: “gosteenitsa.” Then follow it with the name of your particular hotel.

Before getting in the cab, it’s good to know how much the driver wants. We can ask this with one word:

How much = skoilko

Let’s sound it out: skOIL – kuh

Imagine a company called RISK OIL COMPANY. Watch as we cut out the middle of that name:

SK OIL CO.

This will help you learn and pronounce the word in Russian accurately.

Of course, if you don’t know much Russian, you probably won’t understand his answer. So I recommend just taking out a notepad and handing it to him. Numbers are written the same way in Russian, so you’ll be able to understand. Though clarify that the number is rubles (or grivna, if you’re in Ukraine) and not dollars.

Rubles? = rublei?

roo (As in, “Kangaroo”) + blei (rhymes with “play”). The emphasis goes on the “blei” part.
Hopefully, the driver will nod and say, “Da, da” which means, “Yes, yes.”

So, toss your suitcase in the trunk and thank him as you get in the cab:

“spasibo!”

Sounds like this: “spa – SEE – buh”

Once you arrive to the hotel, be sure to tell the driver, “Here, this is for you,” as you hand him the money. (A small tip is usually appreciated, but not mandatory as it seems to be in the US). Tell him:
vote vam

We saw, “Vote” already, when we were handing our passport to the officer in the airport. The “vam” part means, “for you” and rhymes with “mom”. Of course, he’ll then say, “Thank you.” Do you remember the word?

Spasibo.

Grab your bag and head to the hotel.

Welcome to Russia!

TEACH YOURSELF RUSSIAN | How to teach yourself Russian

September 27th, 2009

It’s easy to teach yourself Russian, as long as you have a powerful motive for learning, and a proven method to follow. You obviously have the motivation – a compelling reason to learn – or you wouldn’t likely be reading this. Be it the prestige that comes from speaking an exotic language, the money that will come by taking your business international, or just the adventure that awaits you in Russia, you need to dwell on your reason. Dream a little every day about the thing that pushed you here – the prestige, the success, the adventure – and that dream will fuel your daily study.
“I’m motivated!” you exclaim. “Now how do I start learning Russian?”

Well, you’re going to start at the end of this article. Right after I explain how to teach yourself Russian. There are five things you need to do:
Learn to read Cyrillic. Daphne West has a great book on it. I have no affiliation to Ms. West or her publisher, and I don’t sell the book. Go to amazon.com and type in “learn Russian”. You could also watch my free videos here on How to read Russian.

Learn the most useful and practical phrases first…the ones that relate to you and your situation. If you’re learning for business, you should start with basic phrases about meetings and contracts, etc. (Again, go to Amazon.com and type in “business Russian”.)

If you’re learning for travel, I recommend learning these 30 words first.
If you’re corresponding with a woman on the web, you should know basic expressions useful in these kinds of relationships. I have a short article on this to get you started, called 17 Russian Phrases For Love (http://russian-video-blog.com/17-russian-phrases-for-love/).

Next, make flashcards. There’s no way around this. English on one side, Russian on the other. There are electronic devices which do this, plus applications for iPhones and whatnot, but I still recommend actual cards. The act of writing the cards yourself is part of the learning process. Study your cards in short intervals throughout the day. Try associating study time, perhaps, with mealtime. Instead of reading the paper at breakfast, you can study your cards. This way – between breakfast and lunch – you won’t need to set aside much additional time for studying.

You need two forms of audio to augment your flashcards. One type needs to be a recording where someone prompts you, “How do you say _____ in Russian?” You need to then hit pause until the answer comes to you, then listen to check the answer.

The second audio you need is a growing collection of the words and phrases you know, spoken first in Russian, by a native speaker. You again hit pause, and try to determine what was said, before hitting play for the answer.

Much of my time that I spent studying Russian was simply the preparations of these recordings and flashcards. But you are learning as you prepare them. You are, after all, your own teacher.

Finally, you need feedback from a native speaker. For most self-learners, this is the toughest part. Often, a student won’t get any feedback at all on their pronunciation until their first trip! But there are alternatives. For example, I went to my local university and placed an ad in the student newspaper looking for a Russian tutor. I didn’t want lessons, I just wanted to be sure she could understand me.

If you don’t have a university handy, you might find a Russian speaker online who could help, but services like Skype are not nearly as common in the FSU as in the USA. Getting feedback is the toughest part of the self-teaching process. If you don’t have any luck finding help, you can always feel free to try our innovative program, the R.A. Method.

So there are the five things you need to do. With those five things, and solid motivation, you absolutely can teach yourself Russian!

Good luck!

Learn Russian Now: In Context

September 21st, 2009

Learn Russian Now! just follow along

I’m here for exactly one reason: To help you learn Russian now. We’re not waiting, you and I. We’re…

…starting…

…seechas!

Huh? Oh, I meant, “Now!” Seechas is the Russian word for now, though it oddly also means, “In a moment!” which is the very opposite of now. In any case, try to work it into your speech. Like, “I’ve got to head out right seechas or I’ll miss my flight.”

I usually teach basic Russian words this way, sneaking them into English sentences, but let’s have a little fun. I want to show you a useful Russian curse word. It’s not so bad that your babushka will smack you for using it…

but it comes in handy when things go bad. For example, if you miss your flight, you might yell out, “Yo my yo!” (Which could be written “yo mai yo.”)

“Yo my yo! I forgot my keys at the office!”

Stub your toe? “Yo my yo!” Anyway, keep your eyes open for that mildly profane phrase in the following story:

So, I was on the beach here in Sevastopol, Ukraine. Out of nowhere, this incredibly krasivaya blond girl lays her towel next to mine. I mean, she was a perfect 10, one of the most krasivaya girls I’ve ever seen here…or anywhere, for that matter. My heart starts racing, and I haven’t even said anything yet. I’d brought a six-pack of Heineken, because I was expecting my good droog Michael to show up, so I took a bottle and turned to the krasivaya blond, “Hi. Say, want a pivo?” and offered her the Heineken.

“Da, spasibo!” she said, with a big, friendly ulibka!

I stuck out my rooka, palm up: “That’ll be five dollars, pozhaluista.”

She laughed, knowing I was just joking. And there it was again, that broad, krasivaya ulibka on her face. She puts the pivo down on the sand and rifles through her beach bag. “Yo my yo!” she yells, out. “I left my wallet at home! I don’t even have money for the marshrutka ride home.”

“Well, I bet if you flash your krasivaya ulibka at the marshrutka driver, he’ll let you ride for free.”

This is a true story, by the way. What happened next is I got her mahbilni, and zvonil her that same night! What a great day at the plyazh!