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Thread: Biggest mistakes made by those beginning to learn a language? (specifically Russian)

  1. #1
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    Biggest mistakes made by those beginning to learn a language? (specifically Russian)

    Hello all! Like many, I learn greatly from mistakes. And I believe it would be very much helpful to learn from mistakes before I make them myself. Which is why I am asking what some of the biggest and most frequent mistakes you see from people who begin to learn a language, and specifically Russian, make.

    I am not new to learning languages, but I feel like if I had to start learning Spanish over again, I would have focused on some things more than others, had taken different studying methods, and such that I wish I knew before hand. Such as I wish I had found a few Spanish penpals my freshman year of high school that could help me use what I had learned in a more natural way and correct my errors.

    I guess a few relevant questions (but certainly not limited to) would be like...
    -What areas, for a beginner, should be given extra attention and tentative studying to?
    -What study methods would be advisable to include in my daily routine?
    -Are there any study methods, or schedules, that I should try to avoid?
    Again these are just examples off the top of my head...

    I really appreciate any help. Спасибо!

  2. #2
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    As far as I see, the phonology and pronunciation rules are often misunderstood by learners, so you should read a good description and learn those rules, it's not difficult. Some textbooks fail to do that and say things like hard consonants are like English ones while soft are hard + y, that's nonsense (I feel something is wrong with the sentence, please correct it). Wikipedia would be a great source, Princeton Russian Course is good in this respect.

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    Властелин Valda's Avatar
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    Biggest mistakes made by those beginning to learn Russian is beginning to learn Russian

    J/k

    Great language, love it, this joke was asked-for!
    kidkboom and Throbert McGee like this.
    "Особенно упорно надо заниматься тем, кто ничего не знает." - Като Ломб

    "В один прекрасный день все ваши подспудные знания хлынут наружу. Ощущения при этом замечательные, уверяю вас." -Кто-то

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    Speaking only from personal experience, I would suggest some pitfalls to avoid, though they're probably obvious to most.. 1, Don't let a handful of days pass without some practice - everytime I let a week slip by without adequate practice (I teach myself) I regretted it and I could really feel the lost time. 2, You may or may not try to approach the whole body of a group of rules at one time, but if you do, at least for me it seems the ratio is somewhere around 1:200 - 1 iteration of learning about the rule, immediately followed by 200 iterations of USING it. If I learned a rule and didn't immediately and repetitively use it, I forgot it. And all while doing 3, Don't ask why. ) Almost everytime in learning Russian I ever asked, "Why's this the rule?" Well, the answer is there to be found, but where I thought it would make memorization easier, the "why" usually just makes it harder. I leave that kind of scholarly thinking to Throbert, for the time being. )
    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 kidkboom View Post
    Speaking only from personal experience, I would suggest some pitfalls to avoid, though they're probably obvious to most.. 1, Don't let a handful of days pass without some practice - everytime I let a week slip by without adequate practice (I teach myself) I regretted it and I could really feel the lost time. 2, You may or may not try to approach the whole body of a group of rules at one time, but if you do, at least for me it seems the ratio is somewhere around 1:200 - 1 iteration of learning about the rule, immediately followed by 200 iterations of USING it. If I learned a rule and didn't immediately and repetitively use it, I forgot it. And all while doing 3, Don't ask why. ) Almost everytime in learning Russian I ever asked, "Why's this the rule?" Well, the answer is there to be found, but where I thought it would make memorization easier, the "why" usually just makes it harder. I leave that kind of scholarly thinking to Throbert, for the time being. )
    ask "why" on the forum.

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    I would suggest that when learning verbs learn imperfective and perfective at the same time.

    Scott

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    I would suggest: When you're a beginner and you're practicing spoken Russian (or any other foreign language), give yourself permission to "talk like Tarzan" and have some faith that native speakers will understand you anyway.

    Of course, I'm not saying that you should be sloppy and that you should make no effort to learn grammar rules. But it's better to speak badly in Russian than to be silent because you're afraid of making grammar mistakes!

    I'm coming from the perspective of someone who (very successfully) studied Latin for 4 years in high school -- and in Latin, it's ALL about reading and writing (but reading especially) -- you don't practice speaking skills at all. So when I began learning Russian, I didn't fully appreciate the importance of spoken practice, because I was accustomed to learning vocabulary/grammar in writing only, as in Latin. The result of this is that I was much too shy about speaking Russian, because I had memorized all the grammar rules for written Russian and wanted to be "grammatically perfect" in speech -- I really thought that Russians wouldn't understand me if I got the case endings wrong for nouns, or if I put the accent on the wrong syllable!

    So, don't worry just because your Russian sounds like Tarzan, or Queequeg, or Yoda, or Apu from The Simpsons, or whatever. ("Me are very good speakee-speakee on the Russian!")

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    zxc
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    -Are there any study methods, or schedules, that I should try to avoid?
    I suggest staying away from flash cards, or any kind of rote memorization of English translations of Russian words. While Russian words do often have appropriate translations, they don't always convey the appropriate meaning, and the contexts in which you would find the word you're trying to learn. Words are just the building blocks of a language, and if you try to learn the blocks individually rather than as part of the whole, you will inevitably end up making a lot of mistakes in usage of the language.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    I really thought that Russians wouldn't understand me if I put the accent on the wrong syllable!
    This might be the case. I remember how we, three moscovites, were in another city and could not understand the word, which was pronounced with the different stress.
    The position of stress determins all the vowels in a word.
    Although i agree with your general thought.

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    the biggest mistake that many people make (often it's about Russians learning English) is what I call 'equality sign mistake'. They see the word, e.g. PAPER, then find the 1st entry in the dictionary - БУМАГА, create the 'mental equality sign' and think that PAPER = БУМАГА. Such inexperienced learners are always surprised when they discover that PAPER can mean 'newspaper', or 'official document', or 'thesis', etc. In such cases I always say that the equality sign doesn't exist, so to me a very important rule is avoiding this 'equality sign mistake'.

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