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Thread: Have you taken a course in Russian and what was your experience?

  1. #1
    Hanna
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    Have you taken a course in Russian and what was your experience?

    I am thinking of signing up for an evening course in Russian. Two people at my work are already studying Russian, one at university in the evening, and the other in a private study group. Both recommend studying in a more organised way however one is better than me and the other just starting.

    I reckon I am at level B1, so I am looking for the first step of "intermediate."

    The courses that I found are for 1-2 hours weekly in the evening. It's with a fairly small group about 5-10 people, usually native speakers as teachers. The courses available are all by different institutes of further learning for adults. The cost is a bit under EUR 300 or USD 350 for one term, now until end-May, and books are extra. For that I would like to see some decent return and have a good experience.

    The university offers one that is free, in the evening, but that has lots of cultural stuff and history in addition to language and it requires that you pass regular exams or you lose your place.

    I need to sign up asap.

    Who here has taken a course in Russian and what was your experience? Would you recommend it? What type of course was it and what was good / bad.

  2. #2
    Завсегдатай chaika's Avatar
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    wow, free! I would grab that one up, esp. as it requires you to learn culture to boot! There's nothing like regular exams to provide an incentive!
    I took Russian courses, but it was in high school, college, and grad school, nothing extra like you describe there. I'm thinking of taking French at our local senior center with an eye to going to France in a year or two.

  3. #3
    Hanna
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    Hmm... good advice, thanks! I might be too late for the one at the uni, it might be filled up since studying Russian has become really popular lately. My friend actually flunked a grammar related exam but did not lose his place despite their scaremongery. I'll call them tomorrow and see if there are places left!

    I just think my line of work is really stressful, so exams might just make me more stressed (I am really sensitive to stress,,,) On the other hand, the university course is much more prestigious than the options I was considering. And you can't beat free!

    My experience of studying Russian in school was really rubbish and that's actually put me off signing up for a course until now. But my colleagues encouraged me.

  4. #4
    Увлечённый спикер
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    I'm now in my third year of Russian at the university I attend, and it has been a great experience for me. Between the options that you have, I think you need to decide if you are more inclined to learn the language or about Russia and its culture as a whole. If you are more inclined to learning the language, I would go with the course that isn't free. Furthermore, my classes for the past three years have been meeting for an average of three hours per week, and I find that to become more familiar with the language a lot of independent studying will be required from yourself.

  5. #5
    heartfelty
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    I enrolled in a Russian language course two years ago. It was offered free in Ontario, Canada. All you have to pay is 25 dollars for materials. It was offered for 1 year but I dropped mid-year because of a school bully. I will be back next year when it will again be offered in September 2012. My professor is the best one can ever have. He is very very patient. Even if the students are talking to each other, even if the class is noisy, he remained tolerant. He even showed Russian movies of the German-Russian war, fictional movies and the like. I admire my good professor.

    I still have two good books waiting in line to be read. Cultural History of Russia and History of Russian Literature. I am about to finish History of Russia by Nicholas Riasanovsky. Simultaneous with these is Russian language course. All these I do for the love for a Russian-Canadian.

  6. #6
    Властелин
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    I reckon I am at level B1
    How do you estimate those levels?

  7. #7
    Hanna
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    How do you estimate those levels?
    Marcus, pasting from Wikipedia below.
    Basically it's something that's needed in the EU, but elsewhere too. When people say "I understand this language" or "I speak this language" we have to know what they mean. Can they only order a cup of coffee and ask for their shoe size in a shop? Or can they actually write a business letter carry out academic studies in that language..?
    Different countries and cultures have had a different take on what it means to "speak" a language.
    A common standard is needed for academic studies or for professional work.

    The Russian "TORFL" test uses something similar but with fewer grades.

    The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated as CEFR, is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe.

    level
    description
    A1 Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
    ---
    A2 Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
    ---
    B1 Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
    ---
    B2 Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
    ---
    C1 Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
    ---
    C2 Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.



    And I admit that I am a "borderline" B1, somewhere just above A2 but perhaps not quite B1.
    But it would be more fun and challenging to do that level anyway, so I'll try that and see how it goes.
    I understand Russian a lot better than I can speak it.

  8. #8
    Властелин
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    I see. Thank you. I'm probably B2 in English. The problem with those levels is that many people have good reading skills but poor speaking and listening.

  9. #9
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by krwright13 View Post
    I'm now in my third year of Russian at the university I attend, and it has been a great experience for me. Between the options that you have, I think you need to decide if you are more inclined to learn the language or about Russia and its culture as a whole. If you are more inclined to learning the language, I would go with the course that isn't free. Furthermore, my classes for the past three years have been meeting for an average of three hours per week, and I find that to become more familiar with the language a lot of independent studying will be required from yourself.
    Thanks for the advice!
    I am not very interested in studying topics related to culture and history --- I enjoy learning about that on my own, at my own pace.
    But I think it would be helpful to hear grammar and other challenges explained by a professional teacher.
    1-1 tuition is too intensive for my taste, and would probably be extravagantly expensive. So I think a small group should be ideal.


    On the language groups:
    Many people here have "good days" and bad days with English. Sometimes they write beautiful native sounding English on very complex topics. The next day they make simple grammar mistakes with quite basic sentences.

    Translationsnmru is Russian and I think he said he has never visited an English speaking country. Yet he writes better English than 95% of the population of the UK!

    If Marcus' English is B2, then my Russian is definitely not B1 !!

    I met with a forum user in Minsk and we communicated really well, no problem. But I could tell that he was not used to speaking English with a native speaker. (I count myself in that category even though it's technically not completely accurate). He was much better at English than he gave himself credit for anyway.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    I understand Russian a lot better than I can speak it.
    I think this goes for any language
    I know a guy who writes in English the way that native speakers couldn't tell him apart but sometimes he can't answer simple question

    From my personal experience (and from what I heard from other people) it is one of the stages of learning foreign language by adult. You learn to the point you can understand but can't talk and then you keep on this plateau and then you need a little push and you start talking.
    Some people can't start talking for years because they need harder push (change of the environment)

  11. #11
    Hanna
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    Hmmm.... I CAN speak, but I make grammatical mistakes and I don't have a good vocabulary.

    The all time peak of my Russian language "career" is when I was in Belarus and went on a guided tour, with a Russian speaking group of women that I had got to know. We were visiting a church and I was just standing there, listening to the guide.

    The church had an INCREDIBLY long and complex history. It had been both catholic and orthodox, and then it had been used as a jam making factory, a cinema, a prison and a secret operating base for partisans during the war.
    Finally, the entire village where the church was located had chipped in and funded the renovation of the church in the 1990s, and the construction of a small museum.

    I was really blown away when I realised that I had been able to listen to this quite complex story in Russian and understood everything without asking for any help. I was even able to ask the guide a relevant question about what she had said.

    But then, just to bring me back to reality, the guide said something like "watch out for the step when you enter the crypt". I didn't understand the warning, and tripped....
    LOL!!!
    Deborski likes this.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    Hmmm.... I CAN speak, but I make grammatical mistakes and I don't have a good vocabulary.
    Do you make the same mistakes when you write?

  13. #13
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doomer View Post
    Do you make the same mistakes when you write?
    Yes, definitely. Usually when I write something in Russian people correct me.

    And now I am a bit rusty because I took quite a long break in my Russian studies, at least 6 months, as I was moving countries.

  14. #14
    heartfelty
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    (Deleted. L.)
    Last edited by Lampada; January 11th, 2012 at 12:02 AM. Reason: Off-topic

  15. #15
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    I'm wondering how it's related to this topic

  16. #16
    Hanna
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    А ещё раз по-русски:
    Да, конечно! Обычно когда я писаю по-русски есть много ошибки...

  17. #17
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    heartfelty
    That's actually so simple-minded
    Per my understanding there are no countries ruled by communists. There are some countries which are more socialistic than others
    Also the idea of communism is beautiful by itself it's the implementation which goes wrong all the time I bet you don't even know what the communism is

    Person traveling with "pair of homing pigeons" will look rather strange and if that person talks like the above then some people might have words "mentally" and "ill" in their heads at the same time, just saying, you know

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    А ещё раз по-русски:
    Да, конечно! Обычно когда я писаю по-русски есть много ошибки...

    I'm sorry, Hanna. I hope you wouldn't be mad at me
    Обычно когда я писаю means - usually when I pee
    I know this word is easy to make mistakes with
    This is the correct phrase
    Да, конечно! Обычно когда я пишу по-русски, я делаю много ошибок...

  19. #19
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doomer View Post

    I'm sorry, Hanna. I hope you wouldn't be mad at me
    Обычно когда я писаю...
    OMG you are right, I totally forgot, I have heard that before... freudian slip

    I downgrade myself on the EU scale to A0, no A -1


    Nobody else is allowed to comment on this mistake!!!!!

  20. #20
    Почтенный гражданин
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    It is important not to confuse word "писАть" (to write) with "пИсать" (to pee). The only difference in the infinitive is the stress.
    This pair of words is often the source of embarrassment, especially when you accidentally put the stress on the wrong syllable while reading some text aloud

    писАть - я пишУ
    пИсать - я пИсаю

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