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Thread: making the right start

  1. #1
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    making the right start

    Hi, folks,

    Planning far ahead, I think I'll have the opportunity to work in Russia in five to ten years, but not before. I love languages and think I should use this lengthy preparatory time well and wisely to learn Russian so that I won't spend the first years struggling. My plan is to concentrate on reading, writing and listening for three reasons -

    1. grammar is what I do best in languages
    2. I have no native speakers (or anyone else!) to practise with
    3. I had a bad experience with speaking Ukrainian in 1994 - some old Ukrainian exiles in Scotland were teaching me as we worked together and all was ok until one had a visitor who couldn't speak English. She couldn't understand a sound I made. The others then confessed they couldn't understand me either but as I knew only what they had taught me, they could always guess what I was trying to say. I have had a mental block about tackling a Slavic language since.

    I am presently working my way through 'Teach Yourself Beginner's Russian Script,' and Pimsleur is on order to help me brainwash myself with the sounds of Russian on my mp3 player, because I think I should be exposed to the sounds for as long as possible before I really need to try to reproduce them. Perhaps in a couple of years I'll be ready to gain maximum profit from taking an annual fortnight in a residential language school in Russia.

    I'd be very graeful for comments and advice on this project - strengths, weaknesses, pitfalls to avoid. Thanks in advance to any who can advise.

    Sean

  2. #2
    Старший оракул CoffeeCup's Avatar
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    Re: making the right start

    Quote Originally Posted by oileanach
    1. grammar is what I do best in languages
    2. I have no native speakers (or anyone else!) to practise with
    1.a. Read news in Russian
    1.b. Read books in Russain
    2. Watch Russian movies with and, after some time, without subtitles
    There were a lot of proposals for Russian movies in the thread http://masterrussian.net/mforum/view...hp?f=1&t=16413
    3. Good luck!
    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

  3. #3
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    Re: making the right start

    Hi
    I understand your problem. Sometimes I also have something like mental block,not because of my pronunciation, but because of my character. I get shy I forget everything. So the only way to ecsape this problem is to communicate more.
    At first, I think, you should take basic grammar. And then (previous speaker is right) - more listening. Also you can find a person who can talk with you by Skype.

    In the end you'll manage to speak well.
    best wishes

  4. #4
    Новичок
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    Re: making the right start

    Hi. Russian is my native language. I think we can help to each other with learning languages.

  5. #5
    JackBoni
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    Re: making the right start

    I understand your problem. Sometimes I also have something like a mental block, not because of my pronunciation, but because of my character. I get shy (and) so I forget everything. So the only way to escape/overcome this problem is to communicate more.
    At first, I think, you should study/look atbasic grammar. And then (theprevious speaker is right) - more listening. Also you can find someone who can talk toyou on Skype.

    In the end you'll be able to speak well.
    Hi, oileanach. I'll second what Katrin_ has said about studying basic grammar. My situation is similar to yours in that I pick up grammar fairly quickly, although I do still get a fair bit wrong. I found learning the basics of the grammar helped alot when I first started to listen to Russian (or any other language for that matter). I think it's fair to say that the thread that CoffeeCup linked is our main thread on Russian films. Below I'll link a thread on Russian music and another on general "starting Russian" resources. I'm sure there are plenty of others around to look at, too.

    About to start learning Russian

    Russian Bands

    Hope that helps

    Jack

  6. #6
    Подающий надежды оратор randem's Avatar
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    Re: making the right start

    Quote Originally Posted by oileanach
    Hi, folks,

    Planning far ahead, I think I'll have the opportunity to work in Russia in five to ten years, but not before. I love languages and think I should use this lengthy preparatory time well and wisely to learn Russian so that I won't spend the first years struggling. My plan is to concentrate on reading, writing and listening for three reasons -

    1. grammar is what I do best in languages
    2. I have no native speakers (or anyone else!) to practise with
    3. I had a bad experience with speaking Ukrainian in 1994 - some old Ukrainian exiles in Scotland were teaching me as we worked together and all was ok until one had a visitor who couldn't speak English. She couldn't understand a sound I made. The others then confessed they couldn't understand me either but as I knew only what they had taught me, they could always guess what I was trying to say. I have had a mental block about tackling a Slavic language since.

    I am presently working my way through 'Teach Yourself Beginner's Russian Script,' and Pimsleur is on order to help me brainwash myself with the sounds of Russian on my mp3 player, because I think I should be exposed to the sounds for as long as possible before I really need to try to reproduce them. Perhaps in a couple of years I'll be ready to gain maximum profit from taking an annual fortnight in a residential language school in Russia.

    I'd be very graeful for comments and advice on this project - strengths, weaknesses, pitfalls to avoid. Thanks in advance to any who can advise.

    Sean
    It's good that you do grammar well, because grammar is important... but if you can't make sounds or hear sounds, the grammar is meaningless. Given your confidence in grammar, I suggest you don't study any grammar -- since that will be easy for you. Just work on sounds.

    Without native speakers, you're going to be held back. But it's not hopeless. The most important thing is hearing native speakers. That's easy enough to do -- just watch LOTS of Russian movies and TV shows. They're easy to find online. I started at http://www.RussianRemote.com and found plenty after that. Also, I suggest starting with lots of documentaries, because the audio is easier to hear and understand.

    Regarding Pimsleur... I hate it. The pronunciation is nothing even remotely resembling what you'll hear from a native speaker. I found the audio from Living Language was a lot better than Pimsleur... but even with that, you're still learning the schoolroom pronunciation, not the day-to-day, on-the-street pronunciation. For example, the word нового. Pimsleur say's "no-va-ga", Living Language says "no-vava", and Russians say something more like "novah".

    With regard to pronunciation, hearing, and making noises that people can actually understand, here's a tip: the Russian language can be spoken with little or no actual movement of the jaw bone. (Really! Watch a Russian speaker's mouth... it's fascinating!) Unlike the grand oral contortions of the English language, the Russian language is constructed to require very little use of the mouth. If you keep this in mind, it will help you to stop making the exaggerated English noises and start making more pleasant Russian noises.

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Завсегдатай sperk's Avatar
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    Re: making the right start

    Quote Originally Posted by randem
    Given your confidence in grammar, I suggest you don't study any grammar --
    sorry, that's ridiculous. If his grammar was so good he would've written his post in Russian!
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

  8. #8
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    Re: making the right start

    Thank you, to everyone for your advice and useful links. I'm surprised to see so many people have found Pimsleur less satisfactory than I would have liked - especially given the price! We live and learn.

    When I can read Russian at all I shall certainly work in more jouranlism than I would have done by natural inclination, and maybe get a few films to watch repeatedly over the years ahead. Comprehensible pronunciation is still my biggest worry. I'd hate put in the effort required to learn to read and write the language and fall at the oral communication hurdle - again.

    Repeated thanks.

    Sean

  9. #9
    Почётный участник iriroma's Avatar
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    Re: making the right start

    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    Quote Originally Posted by randem
    Given your confidence in grammar, I suggest you don't study any grammar --
    sorry, that's ridiculous. If his grammar was so good he would've written his post in Russian!
    Maybe it's not so ridiculous. I know some people who've been studying Russian grammar, they are very good in doing grammar exercises but they're not able to speak the language. I had the same problem when I tried to study Italian. For instance, I tried to memorize the conjugation of some verbs but it was all useless until I started to speak and hear the language. I think it's necessary to study grammar but it's much more important to speak and hear. IMHO

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    Re: making the right start

    Quote Originally Posted by oileanach
    Thank you, to everyone for your advice and useful links. I'm surprised to see so many people have found Pimsleur less satisfactory than I would have liked - especially given the price! We live and learn.
    Pimsleur isn't so bad. Given the price, it should be better, but it's got a number of advantages.

    In my opinion, it's a good place to start for a beginner, especially one who wants to pronounce the words better. You won't learn much grammar, but you can always come here and ask for explanations. Native speakers are used for the recordings.

    Another advantage is that there are transcriptions of all the lessons here, plus extensive discussions that I would have loved to have been a part of when I was doing Pimsleur. The "odd sounding" constructions (relatively few of those) are all discussed and corrected.

    Self-study is a really difficult proposition, and it's hard to stay on track and motivated even under the best of circumstances. Pimsleur is the easiest to keep going at, among all the various programs I've seen. And you do remember what you've learned, which is more than I can say for many programs.
    "Сейчас без языка нельзя... из тебя шапку сделают..."
    Cogito Ergo Doleo

  11. #11
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    Re: making the right start

    I have to agree with some of the other folks here, grammar IS important (and hard) but without speaking and listening skills, how can you really expect to work in Russia, let alone understand conversation? Since it's an inflected language and word order is relatively free, you have to be really good at listening in order to get the grammatical case of the word , not just the root meaning. Where in Ireland do you live? There are absolutely no Russians? If that really is the case, get on skype and start talking to people.

    In any case, Good Luck!!
    Пожалуйста, исправляйте мои ошибки.

  12. #12
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    Re: making the right start

    I'm glad to hear that Pimsleur has some uses. It hasn't arrived yet and I wouldn't want to feel it was still-born before I even give it a go
    Those discussions sound useful, particularly in the absence of others learning with me.

    There are absolutely no Russians here. As a matter of fact, there are hardly any Irish people here! I live on a very remote and tiny island with about 131 others depending on the season. I know them all, and they all know me... Skype is already in motion. I have had a kind language exchange offer and have accepted. Perhaps I'll look for more later, but I'll only inflict my gutteral utterances on one person for now.

    Thanks again, folks.

    Sean

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