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Thread: russian alphabet

  1. #1
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    russian alphabet

    Hi,

    I'm just beginning to study Russian on my own (started last night). I've seen a few other people post similar messages. I was wondering what the best way to go about learning the Russian alphabet was? By the alphabet, I mean the sounds that the letter combinations make. And how long before you become fluent in it if you study on an (almost) daily basis? I'm studying completely on my own and do not plan to take any formal courses.. at several hundred (US dollars) they are a bit out of my budget for a hobby.

    I'm really studying Russian just for the fun of it. Here in Boston, (USA) we have a noticeable community of Russian immigrants. Definitely smaller than the Spanish speaking population though, but it would be fun to be able to speak some Russian with people I meet. Especially the women . And I love the Russian novels I've read in Translation by Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, and Tolstoy. I'm reading Anna Karenina right now and it's amazing--adultery is a fascinating topic =).

    Right now, I've got a guide to Russian pronounciation that came with the Teach Yourself Russian book that I bought (I've never used the Teach Yourself series before, but basically, it was the most reasonably priced option in the bookstore and seemed much more comprehensive than one would have exprected for 13$) and a CD-ROM by Transparent Languages. The CD-ROM has several dialogues with the accompanying texts, and it's happy to pronounce either a sentence, or individual word over and over for you when you click on it with the mouse. So I'm reading along with the dialog, not worrying too much about vocabularly or grammer although another window tells me the translation, but just trying to get the pronounciation right the first time before I click on it with the mouse.

    So that's what I'm doing. I'm wondering if it might be more effective to try something else instead, like flashcards or dictation or something, and how long it'll be before I'll be fluent with these new and foreign symbols.

    Or perhaps I shouldn't focus all of my energies on learning the alphabet first? (I'm pretty darn sure that I should though...)

    -Paul

  2. #2
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    Dear Mr. Paul,

    First, I would like to commend you for your outstanding typing and spelling skills. Really, it's quite refreshing to see! Anyhow, you've won me over already with that beautiful typing of yours, so I'll try to give as much advice as I can:

    About the alphabet, there is no trick method to learn it. It really isn't that difficult. Mr. Djimilahso(he had a strange name) over there in "General Discussion" was trying to learn the alphabet too. I would suggest that you visit this website, which offers a bit of a fun way to learn the alphabet:
    http://www.langintro.com/rintro/

    But anyhow, if you've got that book of yours, it should teach you the alphabet soon enough. I'm not familiar with the TY Russian, although if it's anything else like the other TY's, it'll give you some kind of dialogue or reading selection then give vocabulary and explain some grammar, which is fair enough - better than the "phrase book" variety, although the TY's tend to be a bit touristy sometimes. About Transparent Language, I've got their Arabic CD-Rom software(I don't even know why I bought it) and it's horrible. But really I'd say that all software for learning languages is horrid.

    And how long before you become fluent in it if you study on an (almost) daily basis?
    Depends on the person. But almost everyone I've met ends up going from "(almost) daily" to "couple times a week" to "once a week"...you get the picture. Then they pick it up again later. However, we have to take into consideration the definition of fluency as well. I'm assuming you mean the point at which you, the learner, are satisfied with your knowledge of the language and do not feel a need to improve it. This, of course, varies, depending on the learner's needs. Do you want to speak with Russians, watch Russian television, etc. and understand everything, as well as make yourself understood? Do you want only to be able to read your favorite Russian authors in the original? It's extremely difficult to develop listening comprehension and speaking skills if you're learning alone(and it's impossible to give a number for how long it'd take here, it depends on how much contact with Russian speakers you have). But if you just want to be able to read books, I'd say the average person would take 3-6 years before he could begin to read books by great authors without having to flip into the dictionary constantly.

    About flashcards, etc. don't bother, just learn the alphabet.

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    Thank you for the compliment regarding my typing skills... hey, whatever it takes to get an intelligent reply (g).

    Right now, my only goal is to learn how to read and use the Russian alphabet fluently, although I do hope to learn some basic grammar and vocabularly afterwards. That should keep me occupied for the summer I would say. But I've never tried to learn a whole new alphabet. I was wondering how long that took roughly. Learning to speak Russian will likely take a hell of a long time. I see that they have six cases. I had thought that German was excessively difficult with its four cases, but Russian uses a whole different alphabet and has two more cases as well. It's enough to make one wonder if it's even possible to learn to speak Russian fluently after childhood. But I would be happy if I were able to speak "a stripped down, simplified, perhaps even a bit unique, but understandable" Russian as well as to understand spoken Russian if the person with whom I were speaking was intentionally avoiding slang, idioms, or dialect the way a classroom teacher would. I guess that's my ultimate goal.

    Regarding literature and newspapers... have you tried using pop-up dictionaries and electronic texts? They are extremely helpful. I've use them to read Spanish, French, and German material online (as well as ebooks) quite often and it takes a -lot- of the work out reading a foreign langauge. Just drag the mouse cursor over a confusing or new word, and a list of its translations into English appears. Obviously this doesn't allow someone who hasn't yet learned the grammar and pronunciation of the target language to read effectively, but for those who have, it permits someone with perhaps an intermediate skill to read advanced texts, and advanced students to read larger books or what have you.

    I like them a lot anyway. Actually, they're so useful that I've all but stopped making a concentrated effort to expand my vocabularly and just let the pop-up dictionaries compensate for me. If a word is used often enough, it'll stick. (That's what I hope anyway)

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    The alphabet is really not that hard to learn. As I said earlier, the alphabet is usually the last thing people complain about when learning Russian. It should take you no more than a week to learn if you really do say that you'll study every night. In fact, it should only take you a couple hours or so to learn. To make it stick, though, and to get yourself straightened out with all the similar-looking letters, it might take you a week at most. Visit that link I showed you and give it a shot. Don't underestimate yourself.

    "a stripped down, simplified, perhaps even a bit unique, but understandable"
    It wouldn't take that long. After 2-3 years you'd have that and be hungering for more.

    as well as to understand spoken Russian if the person with whom I were speaking was intentionally avoiding slang, idioms, or dialect the way a classroom teacher would.
    2-3 years again, I'd imagine, and then you'd be wanting to understand more.

    About pop-up dictionaries, you must be referring to that software Russians are raving about constantly. LINGVO, that's what it is. I don't know why it's so great, but they all love it. I'd like to get my hands on it, but it costs quite a bit and I don't want to download a pirated version because I'm an honest guy(read: I have a 56k modem and it's around 200MB last time I checked). I have something similar to that for Chinese - Mandarin Tools, and it's free, too(and it converts to Pinyin as well! Awesome!).

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    alphabet

    hey i just wanted to let you know that the alphabet is the easiest thing to learn in the russian language i am 13 years old and it took me 2 days to learn the whole alphabet. it helps if you write the letters over and over again and say the sound that it makes and if you look at russian writting and translate it into the latin letters it would also help

    good luck on your studies!

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    hi, i was wondering if u could also help me learn the alphabet. i cannot find a good website where they show how each russian alphabet sounds like in english.. for example: A --- in english "ah"

    do u know any good websites that would clearly explain how each letters sound like?
    ya plokha gavaryoo pa rooskee!!

  7. #7
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    http://www.masterrussian.com/ - generally

    http://masterrussian.com/index-6.shtml - specifically

    Google - to find stuff

    http://online.multilex.ru/ - for stress

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    thanks
    ya plokha gavaryoo pa rooskee!!

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