Hey guys, I want to learn russian, but am really unsure as to where I should start based on steve’s approach. I’ve heard so much conflicting advice about learning grammar for russian or not learning grammar for the sake of acquiring the language. I’ve tried listening to various sources of russian audio but obviously I understand nothing as I only speak English and Spanish. could someone give me a guide as to how i go about this, and any links or websites to places to start would be helpful. thanks
I’m also learning Russian and understand the complexity of the language for an English speaker. Steve’s approach of consistent and long-term reading and listening to pick up on grammar is natural and helpful. It’s also beneficial to learn and understand grammar to know what to look for. Don’t worry about making mistakes at the beginning, as corrections will help you learn. I recommend to give yourself some time to get used to the language before worrying too much about grammar. At the start it really overloads you, at least for me.
A great resource for learning Russian grammar is The LingQ Russian Grammar Guide. Additionally, I recommend the free app “Tandem” to find language partners who are native Russian speakers learning English. It’s been helpful for me and I’ve met many good people there.
Another helpful tip is to look for “TPRS” or “Slow Russian” content, which normally provides slower-paced Russian-English material with explanations. Jumping straight into full-speed conversations can be very confusing! You can listen to normal speed Russian conversations to get used to the language while doing other things, and you will gradually pick up on more as you learn.
It’s also important to learn the alphabet before anything else and from a native speakers voice rather than a computer-generated voice. I make sure to go through the alphabet every time I start my study session.
I sincerely wish you the best on your journey, welcome and good luck!
Thanks for the input. That’s a good place to start, as I’m not fully good with the alphabet. And I’ll use that link you gave for the grammar, I appreciate it. In terms of actually starting to learn the language, what do you suggest? Learning terms/vocab or anything like that? I do want to make sure I’m not ‘learning’ Russian and acquiring instead. Hopefully it doesn’t seem dumb, but I really am unsure as to what my first step after the alphabet should be. In the meantime, I’ll listen to the slow russian with explanations and hone in my alphabet. Thanks.
My suggestion would be to practice the Russian alphabet and try to sound out words before the audio function on LingQ says it, I say it and then click for it to say it. I typically read the text first and then listen to the audio while following along with the text. Slowing down the audio or video to .7 or .8 speed can be helpful.
Also, the Sentence Mode is a great feature for breaking it down, and if the lesson includes timestamps for the audio, you can play just the audio for that specific sentence.
Personally, I find it beneficial to create a spreadsheet of phrases and practice those the most, focusing on the things I want to learn first to help me communicate with native speakers.
(The vocabulary here is great too if you upgrade, you can filter by lingQ’ed phrases too!)
This opens the door to them teaching me how to continue the conversation. Starting with basic phrases such as “Hello, how are you?” “I’m good, and you?” “Is it cold there?” can help build a foundation, as you begin learning, because you really do kind of start out like a small child.
Matter of fact, it’s actually pretty fun. I use this song for the alphabet, make sure to clap along!
the first thing I did was learn the alphabet and then just started going through trying to memorize the top couple hundred words while consuming some sort of content every day in Russian. Once I started LingQ, my progress skyrocketed. I would recommend just getting a feel for the alphabet and then just starting the A1 course on here. You’ll get used to the alphabet within a few days or weeks. Remember, if you stress too much about how to learn, you’ll never actually get around to learning the language itself. This was what I did with Russian for a long time. Just do what you think might work and make adjustments and work on it every day.
That Lingq grammar guide linked to by @krisnd is a bit too intimidating as a beginning point, IMO. It’s great as a reference after you’ve learned some grammar and want to check up on some point or other. But otherwise it’s like drinking from a fire hose.
Find here on Lingq, or elsewhere, a gradual approach to the grammar. When concentrating on one aspect of grammar at a time (as from a lesson on the accusative case, e.g.), watch for that and notice it in your reading of other lessons or material on Lingq. Without stressing out about it, I think this approach to augmenting your Lingq reading will really enable your acquisition of the grammar.
After 6 years of school and decades of on-and-off-again self study, I still don’t fully remember which case goes with every preposition in all situations. But I can watch talking heads on YouTube, some at 150% speed, and fully understand most of what they say. After a lot of exposure the grammar starts to become rather intuitive (at least for intake), and it really rather pleasantly tickles my brain to listen to grammatically correct sentences.
Grammar is useless without words. Do lots of reading and linqing to build that vocabulary. Good luck!
Edit: I also wanted to second the idea of learning phrases. That can really help the grammar to stick, imo.
I recommend learning the Russian alphabet with any number of beginner Youtube videos which include pronunciation. Russian has three genders (masc, fem and neuter, singular and plural of each) for all nouns, adjectives, numbers, names and pronouns. How these nouns function in a sentence (as subject, object, indirect object, etc.) depends on its grammatical “case” of which there are six. Thus, the endings of all these words change according to case, number and gender. Moreover, adjectives and pronouns, etc. must match (in case, number and gender) the nouns they modify. The result is 72 possible endings for all nouns. This is, needless to say, daunting for someone who doesn’t already know another Slavic language or German (which also has cases). I am not suggesting that you master case tables before starting Russian. But I do suggest starting to read (and pronounce) simple nouns and adjective pairings in the nominative case. Personally, I started by taking four very common nouns in the singular nominative form for each gender: e.g., masc = house, table, chair, store; fem= book, newspaper, road, door; neuter = window, sky, cloud, apple). (I then chose common adjectives (e.g., big, small, black, white) and determined their nominative form in each gender so I could practice pairing it with an object when I saw it: e.g., big window, big book, big apple, small window, small book, etc. I worked on one gender at a time and in this way became very familiar with what ending went with each gender. Adding new nouns and adjectives was easy, once I already established the pattern. I did the same for plural forms and for the other cases, focusing on one gender at a time. You don’t have to “master” all the different forms (this takes time and LOTS of exposure) but being able to recognize them generally in content on LingQ will greatly help you to understand why the endings of the words seem to be constantly changing. I suggest choosing nouns that are meaningful in your life right now so you can describe things as you see and touch them, thus creating multiple associations in your brain. Writing these words and noun-adj combinations by hand in block letters also helps to reinforce how the words are spelled and pronounced. Even in English, educators have long known that young children who write by hand have a better command of their language and vocabulary as compared with those who only use keyboards. The reason is simple: writing by hand creates a muscle memory of the letters and words and uses more than one area of your brain to solidify knowledge. In my opinion, Russian grammar is important but the way to learn it is in small chunks (e.g., one gender at a time in each grammatical case) and being exposed to simple content where you can see and hear these patterns in meaningful contexts. There are loads of excellent Youtube channels for beginning Russian which address in English one discrete grammatical feature at a time. I found it very beneficial to hear different voices speak Russian and to hear how various teachers explained something. I have used LingQ daily for years but routinely look on Youtube for explanations/clarifications of grammatical issues. Good luck!