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General advice on learning Russian

  Tags: Russian
 Language Learning Forum : Advice Center Post Reply
New Zealand
Joined 4462 days ago

4 posts - 4 votes
Speaks: English*

 Message 1 of 4
01 January 2016 at 6:53am | IP Logged 
Hi there

My name is Steven, have started learning Russian with the goal of travelling there
someday. Looking to get to an advanced level rather than just learn phrases, so that
I can read/write/converse with others online. Can anybody share their experiences
with Russian language learning resources and steer me in the right direction?

From what I can tell, there's a lot of information out there for beginners for free,
but no real clear-cut learning path that I'm used to with Japanese (another language I
have studied - which has a fairly clear progression through hiragana, katakana,
grammar, vocabulary, kanji). So far I've picked up the new Russian Duolingo course
and Skype language lessons with a teacher through Italki but both seem a bit light on
grammar, and hard to see the roadmap of where things are headed. Had a go with Michel
Thomas course but it got a bit tedious and seemed to skip out on the grammar
explanations, hard to tell what is recommended on these forums. Is there a list
somewhere of things that should be learned and in which order? Is the main issue the
cases - are there any preferred resources for learning these / strategies (e.g. 10,000
sentences, shadowing, SRS, etc)?

Heard that the Princeton Russian course was good, has anybody completed it and can
share their views? Sorry for the random questions, just feeling a bit lost.


1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 3871 days ago

507 posts - 1098 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 2 of 4
01 January 2016 at 8:23pm | IP Logged 
G-Search of the HTLAL
I just conducted a G-Search of the HTLAL using "Russian" as my criterion and I came up with over 5,500 discussion threads. Many of them address your specific question and provide some very valuable advice. However, I appreciate that going through the list would take some time. Still, you should give it a try. In the meantime, as an occasional student of the Russian language, I will make my habitual recommendations ...

Modern Russian, Dawson
The FSI was one of the co-sponsors of the project that led to the publication of this "audio-lingual" method. It was published in two volumes, includes two workbooks, plus an instructor's manual, all of which are still available via Amazon and elsewhere. It is accompanied by approximately 60 hours of audio recordings that are now freely available on the Indiana University CeLt website: CeLt. As for many of the courses of the period, students were expected to practice literally thousands of sentence-pattern drills. It provides a very sound basis for moving towards the intermediate level. Some critics decry the presence of some obsolete vocabulary. In my view, they over-state the problem. In my opinion, it is somewhat better suited for self-study than the Princeton Russian course; however, I will admit that it can seem quite dry.

Pimsleur Russian
Generally speaking, I have a high opinion of the Pimsleur Method and I truly enjoyed my experiences with the Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian courses, DESPITE the fact that the student must infer the grammar as well as the inexplicable lack of a glossary. My experiences with their Polish and Russian programmes were NOT as positive. These languages are "somewhat distant" from English and I found that my attempts at inferring the case system, coupled with the effort of building my own glossary, were simply not worth the effort. Ultimately, I abandoned these courses and opted for more conventional methods.

Master Russian
I have not used the Master Russian course. However, from what I understand, it is highly appreciated.

Beginner's Russian (U.C.L.A.)
There are probably "hundreds" of introductory courses for learning Russian, many of which are worth trying. I enjoyed the U.C.L.A.'s Beginner's Russian Course because of its multi-media approach. The textbook, which you can purchase online directly from the U.C.L.A. or via Amazon, is really more of a guide to the free materials on the website. Still, since it is quite reasonably priced, I would recommend buying it.

A Language Learner's Forum
The HTLAL is still operational. Nonetheless, many of the "more active" members have registered on the "new/replacement" forum: A Language Learner's Forum. I suspect that your quest for advice would draw a greater response were you to post it there, as well.

Enjoy your studies!

Edited by Speakeasy on 01 January 2016 at 9:59pm

1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 3612 days ago

17 posts - 44 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Russian

 Message 3 of 4
02 January 2016 at 3:23am | IP Logged 
The New Penguin Russian Course but ignore the phonetics. It's the single best resource for
learning Russian and it's like $10. It moves logically and covers pretty much everything. I've
probably used or checked out 20 different Russian programs and this is by far the best for a

A lot of people will recommend Assimil here, but I think the Russian version is terrible for a
3 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 3871 days ago

507 posts - 1098 votes 
Studies: German

 Message 4 of 4
02 January 2016 at 3:59am | IP Logged 
vell wrote:
A lot of people will recommend Assimil here, but I think the Russian version is terrible for a beginner.

I concur
, Assimil Russian provides interesting supplementary material for students who already have a solid grasp of the basics. However, the steep learning curve and the-usual-for-Assimil poor explanations of grammar make it a poor choice as an introductory course.

Edited by Speakeasy on 02 January 2016 at 5:37pm

1 person has voted this message useful

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