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Thread: Please help me maximize the usage of my time before trip

  1. #1
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    Jun 2016
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    Red face Please help me maximize the usage of my time before trip

    Hello everyone!

    I am doing this for utter love of the Russian language, and the strong possibility that I'll end up living in Russia. And I would really appreciate any help with wading past all the bad material out there and getting to the best courses right away. The best way to navigate new territory is to ask those who went there before.

    I've got a wide-open schedule, a talent for languages (they always come very easily), and FIVE HOURS a day to immerse myself in Russian for the next 250 days before my trip to visit a wonderful Russian girl I met when she was an exchange student.

    That's 1250 hours of passionate learning (5 per day = 2 in the morning, 2 in the early afternoon, and 1 in the evening). I absolutely love Russian and have both the passion, the prior language learning talent (English, Swedish, and Spanish), the time, and the vital need to learn it. My life depends on it.

    I'd like to maximize the efficiency of those 1250 hours. Here's my current plan, and I would really appreciate advice on how to adjust it to improve its efficiency:

    • Learn the Cyrillic alphabet. Already done casually over time; I can now read and can spell words with about 90% accuracy when I hear them.
    • Use Pimsleur Russian 1 (all 30 lessons) to get a feel for the language and to make sure I begin early with proper pronunciation. I did Unit 1 of 30 today, and liked the pronunciation aspect (both the male and female are natives, even if the male sounds a bit drunk). I am not impressed whatsoever with the learning speed of Pimsleur, it's way too slow for me considering the meager amount of material per lesson ("a single 30-minute unit per day" must be tailored for dimwits or people with no time or motivation), so I'll be doing 3 lessons per day starting tomorrow, each lesson repeated twice (in other words 3 hours of Pimsleur per day, spaced out over the day with one hour in the morning, one at noon and one in the evening). This is just to get used to pronunciation and to pick up a few basic words and phrases as a bonus. From past experiences with Pimsleur in other languages, I don't consider it worthy of actually learning a language (unless you want to sound like a tourist while simultaneously having no idea how the grammar works), but it's great for getting your feet wet. I want to get that garbage over with as fast as possible. At the rate I've set, Russian 1 would be done in 10 days out of my 250 available.
    • After Pimsleur 1 is complete, I would like your thoughts: Is it worth also doing Pimsleur 2 and 3? I really see no point in learning phrases like "I have 5 daughters", without any time spent whatsoever on grammar, writing, etc. Like I said, Pimsleur is great for pronunciation and getting a gentle start, but is an awful use of time for those who actually want to learn rapidly. I doubt it gets any better in the more "advanced" portions. But perhaps I'm wrong and they're worth doing?
    • After that, I plan to go through the entire Michel Thomas Russian Foundation (8 discs), and then Russian Advanced (4 discs). They have booklets with all of the words and phrases, and seem to cover grammar as well. It's way more detailed than Pimsleur.
    • Switch my computer and phone to Russian, forever. No more English. I've already done this a few times and it's no big deal, and it's a good way to force your brain to get out of "English-mode".
    • After Michel Thomas, I'll be over the initial "hump" of the language, and ready to easily absorb other learning material. I am going to focus the remaining time entirely on immersing myself in a joyful mishmash of grammar and vocabulary, listening, speaking and writing. Are there any books that you recommend in particular? For vocabulary, I've got Anki with Russian flash cards with associated audio, which was highly rated and recommended to me. I will also completely immerse myself in watching the news, reading Russian news sites, watching TV shows, movies, and listening to informal/casual Russian podcasts. I have sources for all of that already.
    • I've also got a few Russian friends I can phone on Skype when I've come that far along.

    So the questions are:
    - Is it a good use of time to consider doing Pimsleur 2 and 3? My strong gut feeling is "hell no".
    - What's the #1 book you would recommend for grammar?
    - Any podcast recommendations? I know I can just go on iTunes Russia and check the toplist, but recommendations for good ones would be appreciated. I'll listen to anything as long as it's not gaming-related.
    - How would you improve the sequence above to get the most out of the 1250 hours of learning? I don't mind really advanced material that requires thinking, and yes I really will devote 5 hours a day to the language. So I am looking for high-quality learning material. This is bloody serious to me, because my life depends on getting the most out of my time before the trip.

    Thank you all in advance.

    - Johnny

  2. #2
    Властелин Medved's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    Wonderland of Russia
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    IMO, #1 in your studies should be the Alphabet, then the phonetics of the language, ie how to pronounce sounds standalone, hard and soft (palatalized) versions of consonants, how to connect them with two sorts of vowels, word stress (it's different from that in English), silent consonants, etc. So your learning time in the first month or two should be divided into about 70% phonetics, 10% vocab, 10% basic grammar plus 10% free speaking on the phone, Skype, f2f, etc.
    Another month ends. All targets met. All systems working. All customers satisfied. All staff eagerly enthusiastic. All pigs fed and ready to fly.

  3. #3
    Почтенный гражданин Serge_spb's Avatar
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    Feb 2014
    St Petersburg
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    Dear Johny, since I`ve always been an original kid, let me tell you something completely contradictory to what you wrote.

    Don`t ever, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER learn any languages. You want to be fluent - you have to LIVE them. A couple of lines made me think twice, maybe there is a 5 % chance that you are a real nerd who is ABLE to LEARN 2 + 2 + 1 hours a day, but 95 % from my experience suggest that you are talking sht and will probably break after one week of such "learning". (Why haven`t you started your studies already, huh?)

    Just think:

    -a biker-youtuber who immigrated from Canada to Taiwan and is fluent in Chinese said he spend only 1 hour of his life TOTAL of real studying
    -my barber in Sweden of Libyan origin told me all he had to do was writing down 10 words a day from a morning newspaper to learn swedish
    -my buddy, Icelandic exchange student who learned english watching cartoons with subtitles when he was a kid
    -my own experience, I used to learn English from 6.y.o. to 20 (pre-school-language school-university), that was absolutely useless, I couldnt speak well or follow my european fellas, but became much-much better after just 3 months of practicing. "Svensk" - same story, reading a textbook for 1vmonth didn`t gave me much, but first akward conversation with elderly lady in shop who didn`t speak english gave me a real boost in learning some lines. At least I still can shoot some "Jag pratar inte\lite svenska" instantly

    etc etc

    I seems like the majority of those who really suceeded actually never bothered them with visiting courses or struggling with textbooks. Because it is boring as hell. Right now you are just making plans, my friend...

    My suggestion is: burn all the materials you have, and start consuming any information in russian that your really like.

    That would be much more effective.

    Find youtube channels like I noted here "Street" language, subscribe to them and check every day.
    Write down new words on a piece of paper and carry it with you anywhere.
    Listen \ translate songs.
    Watch movies.

    Imitate your conversation with gf while you are home alone - speak loud and clear and only correct lines taken from russian movies \ books.

    What gives you emotions will be remembered well. "Units" normally tend to merge and wind up from memory quickly.

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