Learning Russian: Update 2

I just checked and my last update was September 2014. I had only been learning Russian for not even 5 months yet. And I realize it’s been a long time since my last update, so I thought this would be a good time.

I’m not fluent yet. That wasn’t my original goal. But my reading comprehension is much better than it was in the beginning.

Here is an example:

Russian Summer Words

FunRussian.com sent one of their weekly emails to my inbox and I clicked this link first.
Inside, there is an essay in Russian about summer vacation.

Just for fun, I thought I’d write my own translation on the side and I’ll check my work in the end.
This was the end result:

“how I love summer. writing about summer is very [easy] and nice. always only nice to remember [pleasant memories]. and so here is my short essay.

[vacation] with these summers, I don’t [take] and because I go to work every day, except weekend. I’m very [lucky] so that I live next to/near the ocean and because should not need [to go far] to order to go on beach and [tan]. So on the weekends, I often went to the beach, went bike riding, play badminton and spent interesting times with friends.

this summer, my good friend showed me game of tennis. of course, I need even more practice in order to play [Wimbledon], but [mastered the basics of] game and I hope to [win against] my friend.

and best part[most important thing] of this summer I [to my heart’s desire], [eat many vegetables], fruit and [berries] and of course ice cream”

I kept all the words I had right, crossed out what I missed and put in brackets I didn’t know.

I’d had this good feeling for a couple months now- maybe before I reached the 2 year anniversary of when I started. But my reading Russian has improved so much. I like to say I can in “broken Russian”- which means I can figure out what a sentence or paragraph means by using the words I already know.
My writing has also improved a little bit. I started writing Evgeni Plushenko tweets in Russian and for Russian language day, I outed myself on Facebook by doing a status entirely in Russian. [Only one person acknowledged me and he replied in Russian- I’m not sure if it’s his first or second language, but he was a former co-worker and I don’t remember him having an accent]
Of course, when I write Russian, I like to use Google translate where I type in Cyrillic characters of words I know and use the English translation as my spellcheck. I know a lot of common words, but when I get specific, I still use that same site. Except I type in the English and see what the Russian version is.

I would like my understanding of spoken Russian to be better, of course 😛 that’s the next big goal I have. When I watch Plushenko’s interviews, I usually hear a mess of words come from him, but every now and then I recognize something. Usually a skating program or “Snow King” his skating show.
Which is why I still keep up with RussianPodcast101.com. I found a curriculum page that has the bank of vocabulary words and sometimes the dialogue, so I like to follow along with that sometimes. Although I should get in the habit of listening first, then looking at the dialogue later.

Yes, I am still too cheap to pay for a premium subscription. They offer a free lifetime account and access to free lessons for 3 weeks when you first sign up. But when I did sign up, I didn’t realize that I lose access to all the lessons after 3 weeks. It would be a worthwhile investment if I ever went to Russia, which is not likely to happen anytime soon. [my family would probably think I was crazy anyway… there’s no reason for me to go there, but if I was fluent in speaking the language, it would be an interesting experience… but I’d never spoken more than a few words to myself].

But I go from many different sources to learn Russian. In addition to the two sites I mentioned, I found one website that has a list of the 1000 most common Russian words and I was going through that little by little. I picked up a lot of things from there. It’s fun to look at the Russian, try to figure out, before scrolling down to see what the English translation is.
There’s also a podcast on Twitter I started following a couple months ago (they followed me first, actually, so I thought I’d return the favor). They are about a more organic approach to the language. Rather than relying on textbooks and learning words and grammar, they focus on learning phrases of dialogue and conversational Russian.

Ultimately, I think my reading Russian will always be my strongest skill because I put so much focus on it. But I would like to improve in other areas, especially understanding it when spoken.
I find that when I have periods where I am studying a lot of Russian, I understand more words when it’s spoken. Or it could be coincidence that the speakers are using a lot of the same words I’m familiar with 😛

Anyway, that’s all for now.
Hopefully when I give my next update, it won’t be another 2 years away. And I’ll have some amazing progress to report 😉
Poka Poka

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One Response to Learning Russian: Update 2

  1. Jens Lyon says:

    My almost-finished figure skating novel is set in the Soviet Union, so I learned a little Russian while I was doing my research. I also learned some “travel Russian” when I took a trip to St. Petersburg ten years ago. I agree that learning commonly used phrases is better than the textbooks-and-notebooks method. It sounds like you’re way ahead of me, though. I recognize a lot of the words in Russian figure skating tweets, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable writing my own in any language but English.

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