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Thread: Hitting the wall: language learning plateau

  1. #1
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    Hitting the wall: language learning plateau

    I'm getting incredibly frustrated. I feel like I've hit a brick wall in terms of learning new things. And it feels like I'm making no progress... (Still can't read the first paragraph of the children's book Винни Пух after 3 semesters). It's getting disheartening. Anyone else annoyed/feel like they've hit the wall?

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    Подающий надежды оратор
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    I had the same feelings when I used to learn Chineese =)

  3. #3
    Hanna
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    The best remedy is when you don't have a choice. I.e. like learning English.

    If you are learning a language because you want to, you have to have a lot of motivation and hang in there through periods like this. Russian is a particularly hard language. If you want quick results, study Spanish or French.

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    Почётный участник Sgt. Cold's Avatar
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    You say "three semesters"! You must be in formal school. Unless you are the rare gifted person, or your school has classes for several hours EVERY day, there, you will learn nothing because they do not know how to impart the necessary skills for learning to students. First understand that it is not your fault. You have been lied to as we all have. To learn a language it must be priority in your life and you must devote your spare time to it constantly. Apart from from whatever your school gives you, you must have your own curriculum.
    Go buy this very cheap book and self study on the side:
    Amazon.com: The New Penguin Russian Course: A Complete Course for Beginners (Penguin Handbooks) (9780140120417): Nicholas J. Brown: Books

    P.S. Между прочим, Детские книги, не настолько легкий!
    "It's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong." --- Voltaire ---
    -- Исправьте мои ошибки --

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan View Post
    Still can't read the first paragraph of the children's book Винни Пух after 3 semesters.
    Which translation? (Just curious. There at least two different Russian translations of the first Pooh book).

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    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
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    I haven't seen the book you're talking about but just because it's a children's book doesn't mean it's going to be easy.
    My only advice is grammar, grammar, grammar. I mean actually reading grammar texts from cover to cover. It's dreadfully dull but if you don't get a grip on it you won't progress.
    If you're reading something don't worry about finishing it. Take it sentence by sentence and break each one down grammatically so you really see what's going on. For me, language learning is incredibly time consuming and there are no shortcuts at all.
    Sounds like you're in school so you probably don't have any choice but reading something without a translation handy is a waste of time.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

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    Don't get frustrated. "Винни-Пух" is not an easy read! There's a lot of wordplay as far as I can remember, and a lot of self-made words. Find something intended for younger children to build your vocabularly and gain confidence (but not fairy tales, they are pretty hard too because of a certain style and many obscure and dialect words).

    I've PMed you a couple of easier stories. Try them. They are not too easy, but I think you'll be able to understand them just fine.

  8. #8
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by sperk View Post
    My only advice is grammar, grammar, grammar. I mean actually reading grammar texts from cover to cover. It's dreadfully dull but if you don't get a grip on it you won't progress.
    You are right Sperk!!!
    I need to READ the grammar books, cover-to-cover; just like you say.
    I have totally run out of excuses... Got to do it now...
    It can't be any worse than some of the books I read at university and I still remember some of that.

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    IMHO if you can't read a single paragraph after 3 semesters there is something wrong with the way you study russian.

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    Moderator Lampada's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt. Cold View Post
    ...P.S. Между прочим, Детские книги, не настолько легкий!
    = ...не все детские книги легки для чтения и понимания.
    Last edited by Lampada; October 20th, 2011 at 12:11 AM.
    "...Важно, чтобы форум оставался местом, объединяющим людей, для которых интересны русский язык и культура. ..." - MasterАdmin (из переписки)



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    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan View Post
    I'm getting incredibly frustrated. I feel like I've hit a brick wall in terms of learning new things. And it feels like I'm making no progress... (Still can't read the first paragraph of the children's book Винни Пух after 3 semesters). It's getting disheartening. Anyone else annoyed/feel like they've hit the wall?
    Jordan, maybe I can help. I've been teaching myself for 3 years, and I've been through this feeling. But I also use a lot of different methods to study now, and get by a lot of it.. maybe it would help to practice more? How much time per day do you have that you can dedicate to learning Russian? And are you wanting to be a good book-reader, or good speaker, or both, and in what order of priority?

    Are you going to use the language socially, militarily, in business, or full-time (residing in russian-speaking lands)? This would make a big difference as to your best approach. In Business, I'd imagine you want to know it well enough not to miss things that are said, which could be small but vitally important.. meanwhile if you're going to be a teacher in Russia, you may only need what is necessary to get around, and so on.. What's yo' plan?? =)

    PS - Jordan, are you native English? Winnie the Pooh is written by an English author, if I'm not (extremely) mistaken (isn't that right Christopher Robin?) .. so if you're not UK native, it might be harder because of some odd forms.. just putting that out there.
    luck/life/kidkboom
    Грязные башмаки располагают к осмотрительности в выборе дороги. /*/ Muddy boots choose their roads with wisdom. ;

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    You are right Sperk!!!
    I need to READ the grammar books, cover-to-cover; just like you say.
    I have totally run out of excuses... Got to do it now...
    It can't be any worse than some of the books I read at university and I still remember some of that.
    Hehe.. How do you learn to eat steel cookies?

    Eat steel nails for a couple months.. after awhile the cookies will start to look good =)
    luck/life/kidkboom
    Грязные башмаки располагают к осмотрительности в выборе дороги. /*/ Muddy boots choose their roads with wisdom. ;

  13. #13
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    Winnie the Pooh is written by an English author, if I'm not (extremely) mistaken (isn't that right Christopher Robin?)
    Christopher Robin is the main character. The author is Alan Miln.

  14. #14
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    My only advice is grammar, grammar, grammar. I mean actually reading grammar texts from cover to cover. It's dreadfully dull but if you don't get a grip on it you won't progress.
    Сперк - антибитпиккер.

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Find something intended for younger children to build your vocabulary and gain confidence (but not fairy tales, they are pretty hard too because of a certain style and many obscure and dialect words).
    I dug out a сборник сказок на русском языке (an anthology of fairytales in Russian) that we were assigned in my 2nd-year college Russian class -- they were not all Russian fairytales, but rather came from many different ethnic groups of the USSR, and were translated into Russian. And, I should add, this was an edition prepared for foreign students of Russian, so the vocabulary was presented in a very "controlled" way, with explanatory footnotes in English for the less familiar words. Anyway, the following story (from Armenia, and very short) is one of the first ones that we had to read aloud in class (and sight-translate as best we could). I think it's probably easier than a Winnie-the-Pooh translation would be, but I thought I'd offer it here for learners to practice with. (Stressed vowels are marked, and some of the words have English translations given, as in the original book.)

    Жил-был царь. Однажды послал он во все стороны глашатаев ["heralds"], которые стали [here: "they began"] кричать народу:

    "Кто лучше всех солжёт ["will tell a lie"], тому царь даст золотое яблоко!"

    Стали приходить к царю люди и рассказывать самые невероятные истории. Приходило много людей, но никто не мог угодить ["to please"] царю. И вот пришёл наконец бедный мужик с большим кувшином ["jug"] в руке.

    "Чего тебе надо?" -- спросил царь.

    Бедняк ["poor man"] ответил, "Я пришёл получить свои деньги -- ведь [here: "we both know that..."] ты мне должен кувшин золота!"

    "Лжёшь ты!" -- сказал царь -- "Я тебе ничего не должен!"

    "Лгу? Если я лгу, то дай мне золотое яблоко!"

    Царь думал, что понял его хитрость ["clever trick; slyness"]:

    ет, ты не лжёшь!"

    если я не лгу," сказал мужик, "тогда плати долг ["the debt (that you owe me)"]."

    Так царю пришлось ["was forced to; had to"] отдать ["to hand over"] мужику золотое яблоко!


    (The end!)

    So, the point is that for someone who's only been studying a couple years, it's better if you can find Russian practice texts that have been prepared for ADULT FOREIGNERS, and not for native-speaking Russian children. With more practice, you can start to practice with books that are written for Russian children -- but remember that Winnie-the-Pooh was primarily written for parents to read to their children as a bedtime story; the vocabulary in the original English is more difficult than, for example, Green Eggs and Ham, which was written to help native English-speaking children read by themselves.

  16. #16
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    царю
    The soft sign is not needed here царь + у = царю.

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Thanks, Marcus -- I fixed that.

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