How to make time to learn another language in the midst of our busy lives? It is not easy. I sometimes feel in the middle of a dilemma: I want to study Russian more, but I also do not want to work less.
On average, I study 15 minutes of Duolingo, half an hour looking at classes of Russian in YouTube, and about 5 minutes doing some exercises in my textbook per day. I have to admit I also usually take Sundays off (one should rest on Sundays…right?). I am sure if I devote more time, I’ll progress more, but so far this pace leaves me satisfied.
I think one of the keys is, no matter how long you study – 15 minutes or 2 hours – you must be 100% present. Getting your head in the game is crucial to be able to absorb and process the new information. Even if one day you can do only 15 minutes, pay a lot of attention so you can really retain those new words. Otherwise it will be very hard to really learn anything, no matter how much time you put into it.
I started where – I think – 99% of people who want to learn a new language start nowadays in the US….Duolingo. After 6 lessons, a 21 days streak, and 740 points (of which I am terribly proud of), I can say this is a good place to learn basic vocabulary. However, it always leaves me a bit puzzled. After many lessons, I would have to ask my bf: why is it pronounced as an “a” if it is written as an “oa”?, and basic things like this. Also, Duolingo started by assuming I could read Cyrillic, and although I managed to infer lots of sounds, I was pretty lost when it came to others.
That is when I found Mrs. Vera Polyakova-Norwood’s YouTube videos . This teacher makes me feel like a kid again. She explains everything thoroughly, and has been an amazing complement to my Duolingo lessons. Also, she teaches how to write in Russian cursive, something that Duolingo doesn’t do (I made my bf a letter written in English but with Russian cursive – for instance writing “my” as “май”- to practice…it required a lot of brainpower to read it (as I was not 100% consistent)…but hey, it’s hard!).
On top of that, I got a book called The New Penguin Russian Course. I had it in PDF (it is not hard to find at all), but bought a hard-copy as it was cheap, and the feeling of having the book and writing on it while doing the exercises makes my learning experience more enjoyable (again, reminds me of when I was a kid…hey kid’s are terrific learners after all!).
So far I can point many things and say “это [fill in the blank]”, and when I don’t know, I ask my bf (or text him if he is not around (his reply being both an audio with the pronunciation and a text with how it is written…if I had only the text I would guess the pronunciation correctly…mmm 3% of the time?).
Today I learned about nouns’ genres, and the rules were (surprisingly) straight forward. Finding something that is actually easy is nice, but I ready to keep learning haRRRd things and challenging myself 🙂
пока-пока, write to you later!
My bf is Russian and we have been together for 3 years. He is fluent in English, but I would love to speak Russian to understand his culture better and communicate with his family. My mother-tongue is Spanish, and he is also learning Spanish. I have just started learning Russian, and I will use this blog to document my experience and my progress as I tackle this challenge 🙂