Professors of Russian and their students both know well that Russian is not the easiest language to learn. In order to “properly” master the Russian language, one must be diligent, persistent, and avoid interrupting the learning process, regardless of all the difficulties that may arise. And in no case should you trust study methods or materials that try to convince you that Russian can be learnt in a week, a month, or even 3 months. This is absolutely impossible, despite the fact that there are now some effective methods for speeding up the learning process. You may be asking yourself, “What situations would require this kind of quick learning?” The answer is simple: before Russian exams at university, while studying for the TRFL at any level, before moving to Russia for studies or work…there may be any number of reasons! And so, today we will gladly share with you our advice for effective Russian language learning support and increasing the speed of your learning.
1. Listen to Russian everyday
If you listen to the radio in Russian everyday, then you will not only boost your aural skills, you will also activate your passive vocabulary (words that you know but do not use in conversation) in Russian. It is best to listen to stations that offer various kinds of programmes on a variety of topics: interviews, analysis, music, stories read aloud, and so on. Simply listening to music is not ideal, as while listening to music your attention is focused on the music and not the words. Among the radio stations that can help you learn Russian, we can suggest, for example, Эхо Москвы (Moscow Echo). Also, for beginner and intermediate levels there exist on the internet a large number of pod-casts on various topics, recorded by native speakers. For example, we can suggest such sites as Russificate Blog, Everyday Russian, Очень по-русски, and also Russian language columns which are part of the Russia Beyond the Headlines project.
2. Watch videos in Russian every day
On the website YouTube you can find an enormous collection of useful materials for learning Russian. Here there are tutoring videos, short films and sketch shows that can help you master conversational Russian and more. If you watch one or two short videos a day it will improve your understanding of Russian, expand your vocabulary, and raise your language level in general as watching videos activates your associative thinking. Among educational video channels we can recommend RussianForFree, Conversational Russian, RussianPod101, and others. For intermediate and advanced levels we also recommend watching sketch shows for children and adults: «Ералаш», «6 кадров», «Уральские пельмени». Also useful are programmes like «Намедни» and «Российская Империя» from which you will gather useful vocabulary and learn a lot of new facts about the history of Russia. You can also watch Russian television online. It is very important that programmes be interesting and varied. You could, for example, watch the television channel «Дождь».
3. Every day read one article in Russian
Try to read in Russian every day, be it only one small article or one page of a book. If you read an article, it is best to choose an article on a different subject each time– culture, society, economics, technology, and so on – in order to learn as many new words as possible. Don’t read large texts without a dictionary. It is always better to read short texts, but with a dictionary! Here are a few examples of news sites and sites with interesting articles: Газета, Лента и Большой Город. When you read it’s not worth it to look for each word as you go along if you have little time. It’s better to look for just the key words that are important for understanding of contents of the text. The most important thing is that you have before you as many Russian texts as possible in a given day. You could, for example, join an interesting Facebook group about Russia, or sign up to a site that offers joke and quotes in Russian, like Путешествия по России, Интересная Москва, Atkritka, and more.
4. Post words all around the house and make flashcards
There exist a variety of methods to quicken the development of your vocabulary. Some people find it helpful to post papers with words all over their house. It is said that it is especially effective in the beginning stages of learning to associate objects with words. For this reason, if you stick the word “refrigerator” on the refrigerator, you will likely recall this word faster than others. In this way, you can also assimilate the Cyrillic alphabet. Other people find cards with vocabulary words, repeated two to three times a week, useful. On the internet there are excellent sites with already prepared flashcards in Russian, called Flashcard Machine and Russian Flashcards. You can also download applications for Android for studying Russian vocabulary: Russian Audio FlashCards, Russian Flashcards, Russian Verbs Flash Cards and more.
5. Write as much as you can in Russian
Writing is one of the most important elements of language. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that a student speaks and understands Russian well, but makes mistakes in writing because he or she has had no, or practically no, experience writing. Try to write as much as possible in Russian: keep a personal journal in Russian, write new words in a notebook, make your own flashcards, write emails to Russian friends, and participate in chats. If you want, you can organize a language exchange: find Russian people who are studying your language and correspond with them through email. You can find friends for language exchange on such sites as My Language Exchange and Polyglot.
6. Speak Russian several times a week
Your Russian lessons with a teacher more often than not will not be enough to learn to speak quickly, correctly, and with the proper pronunciation. For this reason we recommend that you find friends in Russia who can speak with you in Russian, and with whom you can speak in your native language. These kinds of exchanges work best through Skype. You can find exchange partners on the same sites as for pen-pals. For more effective Russian language study, you can even organize exchange lesson: Make exercises for them, watch videos, and speak on specific subjects, and so on.
7. Do grammar tests and exercises regularly
If you would like to practice Russian grammar quickly, don’t waste time! You can regularly do short tests in Russian online on various subjects. You can find these tests on such sites as Masterrussian. Short grammar exercises and vocabulary can be found on Facebook, on the page of our school, Russificate.
8. Try not to miss Russian classes
Not missing Russian classes is the key to quick learning. Good teachers will, as much as possible, combine all aspects of language in a lesson: speaking, reading, listening, grammar, and writing. This way, everything that you learned during the week unfolds in your head, as they say, “on shelves”. Everything is in a certain order. The most important thing for effective language learning is the organization of both teacher and student. Only by working closely together can we attain good results in a short period of time.
Friends, we wish you good luck in learning Russian! If you like, you can share with us your methods for learning quickly and effectively!