I’ve thought that some of you might find it interesting to know about my current approach to learning my target language. Either as something you’d like to try, food for thought or to comment/criticize/contrast it with other approaches.
Some background: I started learning Russian in Lingq in March. So, I’ve been here for about 9 months. Previously, I had gone through the Assimil book on Russian for about 3 months. So, I’ve been learning Russian for about one year. In this time I’ve gone beyond the 10000 words, as per Lingq’s reckoning. This result is very much in line with what Josu said in this very useful thread: https://www.lingq.com/forum/25/36930/
During this time I’ve been going from one Lingq lesson to another, adding some content from the net from time to time.
Now, I feel more confident and I can engage in small conversations, making lots of mistakes and struggling to find words.
Now, I want to take it to a new level. What I’m beginning to do is this:
- “Compulsive” written content without audio.
I’ve begun reading novels. I plan to read a whole one during the next months. It may be one of Alexandr Belyaev’s works, because I happen to like sci-fi and I think it’s modern enough to provide useful vocabulary. Wikisource has the whole text of several of them.
I’ll just read on. No flashcards, no reviewing material, no audio (except listening to individual words in order to check pronunciation). I’ve had some success in other languages by essentially just reading interesting material and the audio slows me down and I don’t think it’s that useful. Novels tend to have too complicated language and there’s a tendency to rely too much on the written text when you have it.
Purpose of point 1: acquiring vocabulary.
- Instructional videos.
In that case, how do I train the “core skill” (S.K. dixit) of listening comprehension? Based on my previous experience with other languages, I think a great source of audio material are instructional videos about subjects that I find interesting. The combination of images, a familiar subject and some basic vocabulary knowledge makes them accessible for intermediate learners.
I like skating (both ice and inline), so I’ve begun by watching instructional youtube videos in Russian about skating. I don’t understand everything, by any means! But I do catch sentences.
Purpose of point 2: Train your ear, convince “your brain” that, by attending hard, it can make sense of Russian speech.
- Internet chats with native speakers.
I’ll be chatting more than speaking in this phase. It’s easier, it gives me more time to ensure my sentences are right and they’re easier to correct. I’ve met several interesting Russian speakers in interpals.net
Purpose of part 3: activate vocabulary
I’ll be grateful for any comments about this learning plan.
Sounds super! I also read interesting articles etc in my target language (French). Whenever I research for other subjects and when I write papers I try to check for sources in French, just like I normally would do with English or Swedish sites. I also talk a lot with myself in French, haha. I may sound like a crazy person but it works wonders
Also, thank you for your description! Lots of “inspiration” for my learning ^^)
Oh, yes, talking to oneself does help too. I talk to myself in several languages, I guess I’m extra-crazy.
When you start arguing with yourself, though, be sure to do so in private.
Seriously, though your approach appears to be sound. It fits with the Lingq philosophy of vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary. (I was much better at Russian grammar than vocabulary while in school – so I could correctly use all those words that I don’t know!) Go for any videos that interest you, and instructional videos are an interesting idea.
Sounds interesting. I used to pay more attention to listening. But a month ago I had a lot of time free for reading without any listening ability. I spent it to Swedish which was at a very low level. I was surprized how much my Swedish improved during some weeks of massive reading.
But I would like to train the listening skill, too. I really don’t know if it’s better to pay more attention on reading rather than on listening. Perhaps, I will try the same aproach with my Spanish which is at the very beginning level now to check how this strategy works for me.
PS. I hope one day we will have a Russian/Spanish conversation.
I’m looking forward to it.
One note: I’m not leaving listening aside: I do less of it but I make it more challenging by not having a transcript.
Anyway, just reading does help more than it seems.
+Khardy. I have learned grammar in the first phase and I think I’m not bad at it, so I do identify with the idea of “being able to use all those words I don’t know” Grammar does play a role but it’s true that traditional education tends to overemphasize it.
Try listening to some swedish music, there really are a lot new great swedish artists out there If you want to listen to some funny or interesting podcasts/radioprograms I’d recomend “Institutet” (funny podcast about “science”) or “Sommarpratarna” which is a radioprogram that is sent during summer and is narrated by interesting people that tells their story. If you’re interested in stand up comedy try to look up Johan Glans, Soran Ismail and David Batra (some of my personal favourites). Hope this helps!
Just reading can be a good strategy to overcome the threshold in listening. I mean, sometimes we can face a barrier when we can understand a written text but have problems understanding a spoken one. I suppose reading can help to extend vocabulary and make it easier to improve the listening skill later.
By the way, I like to listen, it’s easier (when you understand it) and can be done during so called ‘dead time’.
A solid strategy of yours, @ftornay! I think that you’re an experienced learner of languages.
I think it is an interesting language learning strategy. Reading books and watching youtube channels (Steve Kauffman, Luca Lampariello, The School of Life, etc) is part of my study routine. Thank you for your ideas about this interesting subject. Regards!
Imo not bad, but the plan’s weaknesses are, in descending order
a) weak (or no) conversation
b) no grammar study
c) no vocabulary review
This is assuming that you’re going to put in sufficient effort with 1) and 2), and that 3) is mostly typing. Assuming you are doing a lot of reading without speaking, you probably have pronunciation weaknesses too.
Thanks for your input, +Wulfgar, but I don’t agree. Remember that this is just my current strategy. I’ve carried out different activities previously and I plan to change again soon.
In ascending order:
c) I don’t think reviewing lists of vocabulary is very useful and by no means indispensable. I did absolutely zero explicit vocabulary study in order to learn English, French or German and I think I’m quite “fluent” (tricky word!) now. Having said that, I have done some vocabulary learning in Russian in previous stages.
b) I studied grammar quite extensively in previous stages. I consider that I have a solid grasp of the Russian grammar by now. Ditto for pronunciation.
a) I plan on going to Russia in a couple of months’ time. I’ll stay for a whole month and I’ll probably go again in summer. Rest assured that I’ll be talking my head off during that period. Just hope locals won’t get fed up and kick me out
As a matter of fact, I would like my trip to be the beginning point of a new phase in my study, complete with a new strategy. It’s too soon to know if I’ll be able to make it on time, but I intend to:
- Reach “advanced level 1”, as per Lingq reckoning (over 20000 known “Lingq” words), around the time of my trip.
- Begin a very active phase with a lot of conversation, both in the country and back home (Skype, language-exchange venues, …)
- Tackle more complex audio/video material. I’d like to start watching movies and TV series, for example.
- Keep on reading challenging material, in order to take my vocabulary to a new level.
sorry about that. good luck then.
Why sorry? Thank you again for your interest and good luck to you.