I was not planning on developing this topic for a few weeks, but because learning a language is a process that I will forever be in pursuit of there will be no better time to voice my recommendations for your own endeavors than the present. I can always update if I learn anything new.
So you want to learn some Russian.
I’m going to preface by stating that you should try to expose yourself every day to the language. Some people have the time or discipline necessary to be able to devote to an arduous schedule, and those people will make superb progress no doubt. Most of us simply can’t do that either because of a severe lack in time management or a feeling of being burned out. Seriously, you don’t have to grind out boring lessons like you’re in a class. There are better ways.
Memrise.com is a truly awesome website where users create the lessons. These lessons come in the form of matching or spelling games, usually with full audio to accompany the word. I recommend using the lesson package “Learn Basic Russian” to start, as it will make you learn the characters in the Russian language before starting you with basic words and phrases. By now you’re probably wondering how much this is going to set you back. Don’t worry, it’s free. Yes, free.
You want to work on your Russian over lunch or on the bus? Memrise has a smartphone app that lets you do that. It can either hook into the WiFi surrounding you or you can choose to download the whole lesson on your phone. For free. With audio. And no annoying ads. Did I mention it’s free? Some of the lessons cost money, but considering the 17 pages or so of free lessons, you’ll have enough to get you started. It’s so fun that my own Russian bride (the one I work with) started using it to learn Spanish because the program is that awesome. Not only is it free, fun and awesome, but it is hot Russian woman approved.
So get out there and learn Russian. You have a computer if you’re reading this, so you have no excuses.
You didn’t think I was done, did you? Of course not, because you know you need to hit yourself with multiple avenues of learning to truly soak up the language. If you like music, get yourself some music in Russian. I have two Russian pop CD’s from Julia Savicheva I burned onto my I-pod (the limits of my technological saviness) that I listen to when I go running. You can also find movies in Russian (with English subtitles) on Youtube. One that I have been meaning to watch is a crime movie called Brat, and there are many other full movies available. Even if you don’t understand the words (I’m starting to pick up a few) you’ll get an idea for how the language sounds and a feel for the accent.
One last thing you NEED to do is go over to RussianPod101.com and sign up for a free account. Make it an e-mail account you check everyday but not one you want spam in, because they will try to sell you their services. What you want to get is the Free Word of the Day. It’s not -just- a word of the day (with picture and audio) but also the featured word used in sentences that help you learn other words (again, with audio). For instance, the word may be “wolf”, but you also learn “the wolf howls in the meadow”, “white wolf” and one or two other phrases if you so desire. Again, you don’t have to buy their stuff, they’ll send you that daily e-mail for free.
Finally, your local library can be a good source of Russian learning materials. I got the Pimsleur lessons 1-10 burned on my computer to listen in the car for trips over 30 minutes. If you can get through lessons 1-10 then it may be worth you buying the 30 lesson pack, but I wouldn’t do it until you’ve tried it, as I haven’t met anyone who could get past lesson five before becoming frustrated/bored (I am on lesson 4 and have been for several months). If you really want to put the money down, get the Lessons 1-10 at your local bookshop for $25 or so, and you can get some kind of certificate for $50 credit towards the other 20 lessons later.
In summary, use the Memrise when you can, entertain yourself when you want and try to get in one word every day with the free email.
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