So I have 2,500 words or so memorized in anki, just under 4,000 words in progress. According to lingQ I just hit 4,000 words. I’m at 48 lingQ mini stories already seen at least once.
Compared to French this is definitely slower. I can also understand way less than at a similar stage.
I have six weeks left of the challenge/experiment. I don’t think I’m going to get to B2 level of understanding spoken Russian by then.
However, I am pretty pleased. I think for sure I’m at A2 ish/low B1 level as far as understanding goes. I can understand/recognize probably somewhere around 50% of any given sentence in an “intermediate” youtube video with sometimes big chunks.
My musings and monday morning quarterbacking on learning my first “distant from English” language to any degree are the following:
I think that Benny Lewis was wrong when he said you can do any language to conversational understanding in 3 months.
I think he was right when he said you can do any close to English language in 3 months.
I suspect that in the case of a distant language you definitely do need a minimum of a year to get to B2 with solid effort. But the key takeaway is it is definitely doable.
It seems to me that the issue with distant languages is you’re essentially learning from scratch. As in, you can’t rely on overlap. For example, French and Spanish have a big chunk of vocabulary which are essentially badly pronounced English. (Although the French and Spaniards would probably say the other way round hahaha).
An observation specifically with Russian: due to the wierd and overcomplicated grammar and cases/declensions etc, it is way easier to understand it than it is to produce it. Which is what I was looking for. But I’m between a rock and a hard place in one sense because I can’t speak it for shit even though I can understand a big chunk of it. French and Spanish were different because the grammar was wierd but not super super over-complicated so I could speak broken spanish/french and still be understood.
With that in mind, I think lingQ is freaking 100% necessary specifically for Russian. There is just no way you are going to get enough exposure to all the different variations of words due to the wierd declensions/cases by just memorizing words. So super pleased I discovered lingQ at the tail end of doing my six month French challenge earlier this year.
So what does this mean for next steps for me?
I’m going to extend the challenge to a year.
I think I’ll hit the “minimum” of frequency words (5,000) to be able to learn from context by the end of January. At that point I think I’m going to flip over to hard-core lingQ for the remaining five months of the challenge.
Then midway through next year, it’s mandarin. With the learnings from Russian, I’m going to do a “one year challenge” instead of six months challenge because clearly six months is not enough for “distant” languages.
Anyways, good learnings from my “experiment”.