I want to focus on speaking now

So, I’ve been going by Steve’s method of simply reading, listening, and LingQing away, and I’ve done that a while and felt like my reading has gotten better, but I spoke with some Russians at my local church and they spoke too fast for me because my listening skills aren’t the best either. I used to read out loud a lot, but I haven’t done so in a while, but perhaps if I do that, it will help with my speaking and conversation abilities?

However, I want to focus my routine by working on my speaking. I would like to start speaking with native speakers in my area (paying for lessons) or hiring a tutor on iTalki about once a week or so, but I want to practice in my spare time.

For those of you that have transitioned your goals to wanting to focus more on speaking, what did you do? Just curious if there’s any other people in the same boat.

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The usual contrary comments will flood in here about this point – but, generally, if you have enough input, then you will have no real problem with output.

[…but, but, but there was that lady who lived in France and watched tv for ten years and couldn’t talk etc]

All your ideas are ok.

I’d add recording yourself speaking natural dialogs for 5 minutes each day and listening carefully to your recording with a critical ear.

This is about the only thing I do with language learning that feels like a chore, but it is well worth it, imo.


Im not an expert polyglot, but i´m also studying Russian and i have been where you are now. This is my humble opinion:

If you want to improve your talking you should find a patient partner, or to write many texts about topics that you know probably you will talk later in real life (in your case i guess should be texts about religion or the topics you want to discuss with your friends in church) You can submit this texts to correction and get a feedback (at lingq or there are many sites on the internet to do that for free)

However, my opinion is that with 3.000 known words no matter how good you can talk, You wont be able to understand what is said back to you. I suggest you to keep accumulating known words, For example Steve has 90.000… I know every case is different but in my case i started to understand more or less what people was talking around me when i had around 25.000-30.000 words, before that i didnt undertsand anything people was saying.

Once you understand what people is saying to you, it will be easier to answer them back, However i had to (and im still doing) have a lot of practice talking everyday to Russian people or writing texts. ANd i still have a lot of mistakes and i struggle from time to time to convey my thouthgs. Its an endless journey.

That was my experience, hope it helps.


I have three times as many words as you, but I still feel that I have a long way to go before I can contemplate having conversations with anyone who is not in my immediate family. I say a few things to my wife and mother-in-law and can sometimes understand the gist of what they say back to me. But, mostly, it is over my head. My focus is on acquiring more vocabulary until I reach 25,000 -30,000 words, as Jos suggests, and understand the case system better. I have just started an intensive program of learning the transcripts of кукня, a comedy TV program. I have downloaded the first series of 60 scripts to upload to LINGQ. The videos are available on YouTube. Anyway, good luck with the speaking!

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Блин, какие вы молодцы, что учите русский. это же кошмар даже для русских! we have a program on russian radio where we russians are explained how to say correctly )))) lets guys itakli and whatsupi. stop writing. more blabla more results.

I don’t think your vocabulary is big enough for meaningful conversations yet.

My stats in French are around 6000 known words but a lot of them are plurals, conjugations and liaised version of an already known word (so for example, l’homme and homme).

I would hazard a guess that i probably know roughly 3-4000 different words. Although i count ‘will do’ and ‘do’ in languages where they conjugate differently - so to me suis, est, être, serait etc are all different words - in real life speaking and listening they only refer to the same concept and so for broader conversations i think I would have to know many many more words than the ‘6000’ i currently know.

If you really want to focus on speaking though, ramp up the listening and prioritise that over reading, and speak and write a lot more. I would also make sure you’re listening to real life content and not manufactured, contrived ‘learner’ material which has been specifically recorded in a studio for someone to learn the language from. I find these next to useless for real life interactions as they’re always too forced and sterile.

Also just to add - make sure what you’re reading and listening to is appropriate for normal everyday spoken language.

In my studies i notice a lot of language isn’t used/relevant to an everyday person from the street speaking in a relaxed, informal way.

You could try listening to the difference between a Russian novel and the Easy Russian street interviews for example.

To me there are levels, roughly:

Baby language - Language dumbed down so kids can understand. Very basic sentences and phrases.
Regular, adult language - Stuff you’d hear on the streets, in a café, between two friends chatting idly.
More ‘educated’ adult language - Maybe you’d hear this in a debate between two laymen on TV or something.
Quite educated language - In French for example the ‘French History’ podcast on here with a lot of passé simple.
Classic novel standard - Something along the lines of Orwell or Dickens or something like that.
Academic/very formal/technical language - This is language that uses a variety of tenses, moods and language.

For learning to speak, i would concentrate on the first three. To me, there’s no point in me spending time going through more complicated tenses or language when to have a conversation there is a very strong base level of language which can be learned first. Sayings, phrases, tenses and words associated with your every day conversations is what you should be immersing yourself in imo and the more complicated stuff should come later. You should be able to feel comfortable in the language before shooting for ‘educated’ levels of communication if speaking is a primary goal, imo.

I can always tell what level the stuff i’m reading is at. If i keep uploading 2000 word conversations and am hovering in the 4-8% unknown word list for every one, but then i upload something on history and all of a sudden there is 20-30% unknown words, i know it’s probably dealing with language that isn’t often used in normal conversations. I want to learn that stuff, but not before learning to speak comfortably at a normal level if speaking is my goal.

Just to give an example - at this moment in time i’m listening to some French podcasts on here which is a two-way conversation between native speakers on various topics. For a 25 minute podcast i’m averaging around 85 unknown words.

For an 18 minute Les Miserables lesson on here there are 507 new words.

Beside what the other said, I suggest you to try the “back and forth translation” method, as Luca Lampariello calls it. It’s the method he uses, and he suggests Assimil as a course because its format adapts very well to the method.
Basically you first go the “usual” way, russian to english, both reading and listening to the dialog. Then there is what is called an “active wave” where you do the opposite. You read the english translation and you try to reproduce (translate back) the dialog to russian language.
I’m studying the Japanese language and while in the past I learned English just by reading and listening (I’m italian), I feel that for languages such as Japanese it’s not enough. It’s not a problem of exposure or of vocabulary, because I find difficult to express myself even with easy sentence patterns which uses common words. All things which I already know if I read or listen to them, but I’m still not able to produce them. I’m sure that with much more exposure I will eventually be able to use actively all the things that I recognize passively, but this doesn’t mean that a little study focused on output will be useless.
Even in English my output is mediocre and I read and listen to english from 10 years ago or more. I’m sure that with some study targeted at output it will be easy to improve my output in english, and even in my first language.

Read this article:


especially point 4, “not preparing”, which I find it is related to what I said before.

Hope this helps and sorry for the long answer!

Thanks for the input everyone (no pun intended). I see you all are commenting that I need to know more words because my count is only 3033. Very true, I should build up a more passive vocabulary so I can potentially talk about more things. However, I should note that I’m quite conservative about my LingQs. There are hundreds of words that I recognize and know in my statistics, but I am simply too lazy to mark them to ‘known’.

If one looks at my statistics, I’ve put in over 200k words of reading and nearly 200 hours of attentive listening. I still have a long ways to go though!

That’s a great idea. I remember reverse translation being brought up a lot and I’ve tried it. It’s definitely a good work out.

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Easy Russian is pretty good.
Yeah, I can understand around 70% of Easy Russian stuff, and it’s casual enough to use every day.

I’ve thought about writing out and saving some of those phrases and practice those a lot, so I have a lot of phrases I can simply fall back on (a phrase reserve, if you will).

THe idea of speaking is good.
However, the idea ‘to focus on speaking’ is bad.
You have go on trying to speak, but not less read, listen and a bit write.
But in my opinion to wait before your vocabularu gets to 10.000 words and more before speaking is also wrong.
You can try to speak a bit even knowing only 200 words.


Yes with serials you can learn a lot like it shows the video. Im wacthing как я стал русским

I think you can speak a bit knowing 200 words if the person you´re speaking is going to cooperate and to put his speech to your level. That works very good when you are talking to a teacher or somebody who knows about languages, they can change their language to put it to a level you can understand. Unfortunatly many common people (i mean natives), they dont bother to do that (or they cant do it good), and as a result you can be in a bad situation where you dont understand nothing, and they dont understand you.

200 hours of listening is a quite a bit. Similarly at 200k words read, you must have picked up quite a bit of vocab. People are too fussed about LingQ’s very poor measure of words known.

My Korean is not where you are at with your Russian. However I’ll add my 2c anyway:

You mention two issues. One is that you’re unable to follow native Russian speakers at conversational level, and the other is a desire to focus on your speaking (so being able to recall the words and phrases you need when you want to say them).

If I were in your shoes, I’d increase my listening ability by really working through listening as intently as I do with my reading. This would entail quickly skimming the transcript for words I am not familiar with and checking them just before I listen. That way I can notice them while listening. Then stopping at difficult sections to re-read and then re-listen to that section a couple of times before moving on.

I would hope this would encourage the brain to tackle the bits it gets used to skipping over and actually focus on them. If I can hear the things I am usually not catching, at least in some circumstances, then it opens up the opportunity for me to hear them in other circumstances (and eventually any circumstance).

As for the speaking, I’d probably try recording myself doing impromptu ‘talks’ to my phone. Just for a few minutes at a time. Would then play it back and self-assess. I’d come up with a variety of every-day topics and just pick one at random. The goal would be talking without looking up any words. I’d look up the words I was searching for immediately after doing the recording.

If this all sounds incredibly specific, it’s because it is! While I am not where you are at, I feel I’m approaching a place where these kinds of things might make sense for me to try improve my ability to follow Korean. So I might end up giving it a whirl.

Also I suspect if I keep the impromptu videos, they might hopefully be a good reference in 6 months to see if I have improved.

(OH And of course talking to tutors would be #1, but I think you were asking more for things that could be done on ones own time so to speak)

200 hours listening is really, really, really low. I am assuming you have done more than this outside of lingq - but even so, this is where your main issue will be.

I’ve never seen ‘‘Easy Russian’’ before, but doing so right now I could say that there isn’t anything particularly easy in it, that’s a regular conversational language. If you can understand 70% of those interviews, your listening comprehension is already quite good and definitely must allow you to speak at a decent level.

I don’t think 200 hours is a lot really. I want to shoot for 1000 within a couple of years. I also agree that people here shouldn’t use the word counter as progress, which is why I referred to my other statistics instead.

Like I brought up in my other post, I think the LingQ word counter is a bad indicator of knowledge. I would say my word count is higher than 3000.

Ideally, I want to listen 5x or so better than my speaking, so I at least understand what’s going on. Have you seen the movie ‘Grandma’s Boy?’ It’s cheesy and funny. :stuck_out_tongue: There’s a witch doctor on there that doesn’t speak English, but can understand everything, including Chinese. :stuck_out_tongue:

Может быть, я должен смотреть многих русских фильмов слушать музыку или даже говорить с девуками.)) Кто знает?)