Category Archives: Russian

Many (Language) Loves

Today I want to do in blog form what many people have done on video: introduce the languages I am learning or have spent time learning, as far as possible in those languages.

Since I really don’t focus on output at all, this blog post is intended to be a start in that direction. I think the fact that I am writing this to be read by others is more motivating to me than the idea of keeping a journal. I have never been much of a journal writer – even in English. However, because I am not in the habit of writing in foreign languages, I have struggled with writing the below, and I am certain that it is full of errors. But it’s a first step of hopefully more to come.

Afrikaans

Afrikaans is my ‘eerste’ tweede taal. As Suid Afrikaner, het ek ‘natuurlik’ Afrikaans as tweede taal op skool geleer. Ek dink dit was miskien vanaf die derde graad, toe ek so tien jaar oud was. Maar ek gebruik die taal eintlik nie gereeld nie.

Deutsch

Ich habe Deutsch zwei Jahre auf Universität studiert, und danach das Zertifikat Deutsch besteht. Seid dann, habe ich noch manchmal Nachrichten gelesen usw. Deshalb ist meine Verständnis, ich glaube, nicht zu viel vermindert in die vergangenen Jahren.

Français

J’ai aussi Français en université appris, mais seulement un an. Je trouve Français un peu difficile – de comprendre ce que j’écoute, et aussi le grammaire. Mais, j’ai besoin d’étude!

Italiano

Ho imparato un po’ italiano in una classe di Scuola Italiana. ‘E stato molto lentamente. Ma io sono continuato con il mio studio da solo. Come ho detto, io leggo un libro in italiano al momento.

Español

No habla mucho español, mas lo es similar al italiano, y ese ajuda con comprensión.

Português

Eu ‘falo’ pouco português, mais entende mas que eu posso falar (quando eu leio). I have pretty much only used Duolingo for Portuguese, which was a really helpful start, but it needs a lot of work.

日本語

私夫は大学に1年日本語ならった。 私もひとりでべんきょうしました。アニミからたくさんことばおもいました。 かんじはたいへんむずかしいとおもうけど,がんばります!今はMEMRISEでべんきょうします。

Tiếng Việt

Tôi đang học tiếng Việt. Nó là kho làm. 

Other languages

Other languages I have dabbled in / studied and mostly forgotten, but I fully intend to continue learning in the future, include:

Русский язык: Здравствуйте. Я говорю по русски (So I can lie. In Russian! I think…?)

Ελληνικά: really can’t remember a thing in Greek, sadly, but it’s sitting there on my Duolingo list, waiting to be reactivated. I used the FSI course to learn a little of it a few years ago.

Xhosa. Molo. Igama lam nguKate. Ndisazama ukufunda isiXhosa. I actually had a year or two of Xhosa study in primary school. It’s actually frightening how little one can learn of a languages in a classroom situation in one or two years. Nowadays, I have a Teach Yourself book that I dip into from time to time.

Korean. I was delving into this and Mandarin Chinese a year or two ago. I am not quite ‘fluent’ with the writing system, and I only really remember a few words. My favorite word is from Korean dramas: “jinjja!”. 

Mandarin Chinese. Same story as Korean, only the writing is WAY more of a barrier, especially for someone like me, who focuses more on reading.

Well, it’s been fun. Until next time!

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BBC Active & Russian Stuff

At the moment, I am trying to teach myself Russian. The most useful book I have found so far is a Teach Yourself Russian book borrowed from the library. I also own a BBC Active Russian Phrasebook and Dictionary and the BBC Active Talk Russian book with 2 CDs.  This audio course cost more than twice the price of the phrasebook, and quite frankly, I don’t think it was worth it.

I bought it because I wanted the audio, and in that sense it is useful, but I think it could have been done much better. It seems to be aimed at the lowest common denominator. There is not a lot of vocabulary in the book, in fact, there is plenty more vocab in the phrasebook. That is my first problem – you won’t get far with the audio series.

The audio has so much time wasted with the voice saying “if you want to say … in Russian then the word you would use is …”.   Too much of the audio is taken up with english. The book should be doing that job.

What I would have appreciated from this course would have been: a conversation for each chapter, in audio, and the book should make it clear what the conversation means. A little bit more explanation of grammar (though I don’t think too much is necessary). They could have gotten a lot more spoken Russian into the same two CDs, and a lot more vocab into the same size book.

The phrasebook on the other hand, is great. They know how to do a phrasebook. I find the pronunciation guide very logical; each phrase is transcribed into the roman  alphabet, in a way that makes sense to an English speaker. Well, it makes sense to me anyway. There is plenty of vocab, like a list of body part names, list of menu items, list of shopping vocab, etc. You can’t really learn Russian properly from that alone, but it is a great extra resource. And I think it would work really well as a phrasebook if that was all you wanted it for.

A useful resources for Russian is Master Russian. The site doesn’t look like much (I’m ashamed to say a boring looking website can put me off – what can I say I’m a graphic designer for a living), but it does contain some useful stuff.

Then there is a website of a university in Sussex that has some Russian texts online with the translation (prioritizing word-for-word accuracy) and a glossary, as well as exercises (which I have not yet tried) and audio (which I couldn’t get to work). But it’s great because you can start getting into Russian literature, while still learning Russian.

Happy learning!