Game Plan: Learning Russian (take two)

Okay, I seriously don’t know what happened to the post I just spent the last twenty minutes writing. So, redo. 

I would like to say that I’ve been busily writing those reviews I need to catch up on, but truth is I have a renewed interest in learning Russian. And that’s where I’ve been this past couple of days. I promise I’m not goofing off! Here’s proof.


Learning a second language has been one of my goals for years and Russian has been my target language for the past two or three. I’m behind mainly because I keep pushing it to the side. As much as I want to learn another language, work and school are my priorities (and they still are) but I need to make more of an effort to incorporate Russian into my daily routine, even if only for thirty minutes. 

So, my game plan. So I can hold myself accountable.

  1. Practice reading in Russian for ten minutes a day. Currently, I suck at pronunciation. I can read fairly well, but I’m still trying to get the hang of stressed and unstressed letters. Hopefully by reading I can pick this up.
  2. Practice writing in Russian for ten minutes a day. Because I’m a writer. And because writing seems to make things sink in and help me to recognize patterns (in my first draft I listed examples, but I’m too tired to pull it up again. They’re written in my language journal which is tucked away since I’m just about ready to sleep!).
  3. Start a vlog. Which is for my eyes only! Possibly. Maybe. For now at least. Reading and writing helps, but keeping a daily vlog will probably help with my pronunciation.
  4. Add three words to my vocabulary list. Because it’s good practice, especially if I use a partial phrase to help students learn, like “This is a [insert vowels].”
  5. Practice three phrases per week. Because I agree with polyglot Olly Richards. We hardly use single words to communicate. When we do, it is generally spoken in phrases. This will teach me something new.

So there you have it. Game plan! Can’t wait to check back in. See you then

Language Learning: More on than off

I see I have about 15 minutes left for Thursday and I haven’t posted anything for today. It’s not that I want to post something every day for the sake of posting something daily, but I do like to say at least a “hey!”

And it’s not like I was goofing off either. Allergies and sinus troubles aside, I’ve tried to stay on top of my reading so I read for about thirty minutes on my lunch break. The other thirty minutes was me eating my food. And then I got caught in traffic due to an accident (praying that it was nothing serious for those involved) so I didn’t reach home until almost 20:00, ate dinner, discussed the finer points of politics, and spent the rest of my time until now reading and writing Russian.

So, not in vain. Not enough hours in the day, I tell ya (even though there’s a quiet voice in my head saying, “no, you’re just not prioritizing your time right” and my other quiet voice argues back “yeah, but really, there are not enough hours since work occupies nine hours of my day and add two hours for the drive to and from. Just saying.” Both are valid points, mind you.).

Speaking of reading and writing Russian. Focusing on that for the past hour and a half, I realized that I have now been trying to learn conversational Russian off and on for about a year. A little over a year. There were chunks of time during the year where I just couldn’t pin down study time with me focusing on school work and such. And getting sick. But this year, this year, I have every intention to make it stick. Or at least progress. This year I plan for it to be more on than off and I think I found a method that will help.

About a week or two ago, I stumbled upon this iTalki article. Since I’ve been keeping a journal since forever and I love letter writing, why I didn’t stumble upon this idea sooner is beyond me. I have written phrases and tried to write my headings of journal entries in Russian, but having a dedicated journal in which everything is in Russian hadn’t dawned on me until reading that article. And you want to know something? I’m finding that I can recognize letters and sounds much quicker. My recall has been faster and I’m able to sound out the word faster as well. I’m not completely comfortable with it, yet, but I feel I’ve made immense progress, just by keeping a journal. In Russian. I’m hoping as I keep this up, repetitive phrases will start to sink in and I’ll be able to work out grammar rules and such.

Now, I understand that writing and reading Russian is not exactly speaking Russian so pronunciation isn’t being learned or practiced, but I feel I will be able to do so in time. Tonight I transcribed the chorus to a Russian song I found and enjoyed. That’s what filled up my hour. When I translated it to English, using Google Translate, of course, I found the syntax (I think it’s syntax) off. Literal translations are usually like that though so I hope as I continue to progress I will be able to figure out what it really means in Russian.

I’m pretty excited. And I’ve been consistent, so far, understanding that it’s just been two weeks.

So, hopefully, by December I can tell you that I’m just about reaching conversational levels.

We’ll have to see about that. More on than off, that should be my cadence for the next eleven months :).

Спокойной ночи!

Study Break: Getting serious about Russian

Well, look at that. Time flies when you’re … studying!

I guess you can call it studying. If you’ve checked in every now and then or if you’re religiously following my blog and reading every single post I write (because that’s what you’re all doing in my mind 😉 ) this may be redundant. However, if you’re just tuning, a little over a year ago I decided I’d stop all language learning want-tos and focus on Russian. I decided the three languages I wanted to learn first were Italian (because Venice is my #1 “some day” destination), Gaelic (because Irish sounds so darned cool!), and Russian (because I ended up getting really interested in Russian history and thought it would be pretty cool to learn). As you an see, that’s a bit robust, especially if you are learning another language for the first time.

While Russian isn’t my first language to study, it is the first language I’m learning on my own and the first language I really want to reach at least B2 level (per the Common European Framework of Reference for Language. I studied Spanish my last two years of high school and when I went off to college I attempted French but ended up dropping out of college mid-semester.

I’m happy to report that I’m getting pretty good at reading Cyrillic and I’m halfway decent on getting the sounds right so I’m hoping to progress to the next level soon.

Anyway!

As soon as I settled down from work I dived into practicing the alphabet. Then I decided to look up some Russian music. Then I ended up YouTubing soundtracks in Russian, which led me to this:

And this:

This too:

And I could go on, but then I got sidetracked by this:

In which I decided to research Viennese Waltz. And it sounds so pretty! And difficult. It sounds difficult which makes it pretty to watch.

And then I realized it’s two hours later! Ah, distractions.

In my defense though, most of the time I was either reading or listening to Russian so I feel that it’s okay I got a bit off track.

And that’s when I called for a break! In which I ended up drafting a 362+ word blog post about studying Russian.

And now … back at it!

Language Learning: Russian … here goes nothing!

OMG!

I did it. I finally did it. After having it linger above me for a week, I finally mustered up my courage to record my first ever video and it’s me practicing my Russian script.

OMG!

In my last post about my adventures in language learning (here) I mentioned that this was a game changer for me. I was terrified. I still am, but hey, carpe diem right? So, two feet in for this language learning adventure. Two feet in while trying this new approach to language learning. Two feet in period.

Oh, and here’s the video (*cringes*) because … it’s like ripping off the band aid. Do it quick and the pain goes away faster … right?

Educational Pursuits: Language Learning – Game changer

Two months ago I mentioned my language learning goals (in this post here, in case you were curious).

Two months ago I was in the middle of Level 2 – Italian and in the middle of Level 1 – Irish. Things were going fairly well. I was passing my lesson review points with decency.

Except …

I couldn’t get past the grammar part of things. And I’m not sure if I’m pinpointing the right thing. My pronunciation wasn’t too bad and I could keep up with vocabulary, but when I needed to complete a sentence, problems began. I had trouble keeping “She has red flowers” and “They have red flowers” straight. Not to mention, I couldn’t answer “What is this?” whenever it came to answering without the multiple choice. This worried me. Knowing the answer when I can use process of elimination is one thing, but if I can’t actually produce the words on my own … well, that’s not really learning is it? And that’s not going to help me hold a simple conversation with someone who knows the language.

So I went back and recapped the lessons. Sometimes taking them all over again. Same results. Passed fairly decent until I had to recall them on my own. It just wasn’t sticking.

A part of me must have known it wasn’t going to stick because in that same post with my language learning goals, I was researching other ways to learn a new language, courtesy of Benny Lewis, the Irish Polygot. And while I continued to trudge through my language learning program, I couldn’t help but notice Benny’s methods. I mean, he’s learned several different languages and I doubt he was spending huge amounts of money learning them.

Since I was already “learning” Italian and Irish, I decided to learn Russian using Fluent in 3 Month‘s learning methods. Six days into the Language Hacker League trial (Benny makes a deal that you can start speaking the language you want to learn in seven days) and I’m terrified! Yes, terrified.

Because I made a script. Yes, a script. A simple: “Hello. My name is …” And I’ve been practicing this script. Reciting the words out loud. Using Google Translation and Omniglot.com (which I’ve been a member of for at least two years) to make sure I’m getting my Tarzan-speak right. And the next challenge, or mission, is to make a video of my script and post it to FI3M’s YouTube Channel.

Again, terrified!

What if I don’t get it right? What if I sound completely ridiculous? Heck, I know I’ll sound completely ridiculous. Do I really want to do this? Do I really need to do this? How in the world am I going to get through this?

I’m freaking out!

And I can totally relate to FI3M’s point about wanting to speak the language perfectly before actually speaking to someone. And I understand how insane that is. Why? Because that’s not how we learned English. You know, as babies? And if not talking until we could speak perfectly as babies didn’t work that way, why would learning another language work that way?

So, I completely get it. But I’m still terrified. It’s a game changer all right. Even with the free tutoring sessions provided for the first three months of Rosetta Stone, it took me two weeks to finally schedule a session and then I rescheduled it at least twice. I made excuses, but I know it was because I was scared to talk to the tutor, not to mention that I’d be in the session with one other person. I got through it and it wasn’t as bad as I was picturing it, but still. It drained me.

But I get it. So, I’m going to go through with this … as soon as I get up my courage.

Photo credit: skyscanner.net (feature image)