Steve' Russian diary

Following Mairo’s lead I am going to start making entries in my Russian learning diary, as I have now embarked on a phase of intensive speaking and writing.

My first diary entry is a prologue.

I have been studying Russian on my own for over 2 years. I do it when I have time, or can make time. Perhaps 75% or more of time has been listening on my MP3 player. The rest is spent reading, and studying words, mostly at LingQ. Before we had Russian on LingQ, I listened to and read the Teach Yourself, Colloquial, Assimil, Pimsleur, and Living Language series. The first three were good, in that there was a lot of easy content with little or no English on the CDs. I could not listen to Pimsleur because of the English, and Living Language’s beginner text was mostly unconnected phrases and sentences with no real context, and therefore less effective. Even the first three contained a lot of explanation and exercizes that I simply did not use.

Once I started at LingQ I focused on “Who is she” (the Power of the Linguist). I listened to it at least 30 times. From there I went on to the podcasts and discussion texts. We did not have all the beginner texts that we have now. Then I jumped right into literature, even if the unknown words % was 40-50%. I saved a lot of words.

I only worked texts for which I had the audio. I have a large collection of Russian audio books and the texts are usually available on the web and I import them. I have thoroughly enjoyed absorbing Russian through interesting content, listening and reading.

After two years I can understand a lot, spoken and written. I can carry on a conversation. But I make a lot of mistakes. Now I am going to focus on my output. Now that I have acquired a lot of words, I want to go back and clean up my act. But I want to do so intensively. How intensively I can do it remains to be seen. I am meeting my LingQ tutor in two hours for our second discussion. I have written twice and received one correction back.

When I received my corrected text I imported it into LingQ and saved words and phrases. I then reviewed them using Flash Cards.

Then I recorded myself reading the corrected text. In fact I created a PlayList in iTunes for my corrected writing. I will be adding more and more recorded corrected writing into this playlist. I will also ask my tutor to read this text and I will record her and enter this recording in the PlayList. I will be accumulating these texts and listening to them.

I will do the same with the discussion report, which I will Import into LingQ and study and possibly record. It remains to be seen. Ideally the discussion report will contain the words or phrases that I misused, and an explanation by the tutor, all in Russian. I will record this, I think. I will see how it goes.

I put up another entry on my Russian diary on my blog. ( There you will find the following entry as well as the text of my Russian corrected writing and my own recording of it. I am looking for native speakers to record this text for me.

We will enable learners and tutors to record easily on LingQ but that is in the future. In the meantime if you are able to get a good recording of your corrected writing from your tutor, during your Skype discussion, ( I was not) then you can share it with others and earn points. Granted the amount of these points is limited, but this will grow, we hope.

Back to Russian.

My Russian learning diary #2

I spoke with my tutor, Tana, this morning. We spoke for one hour. That last time we spoke, which was my first session, I ran out of gas. I did fine for 15-20 minutes and then got tired and could not remember the words I wanted to use. This time I was flying, picking up speed as we went along. I could have gone on for another hour. The reason, I believe, is the writing I have been doing.

I have not written a lot. I wrote two pieces which I submitted for correction. I recorded them and listen to them often. I,of course, imported them as content and saved words and phrases from them. I picked out certain phrases with different cases, and just Flash Carded them for a while, quickly. I asked Tana to read the texts for me to record via Skpye, but the sound was not good.

Is any Russian native speaker out there willing to record the following text for me? By the way, here is my version. I want a native speaker version to listen to so that I can improve my own. I intend to continue doing this, listening often to my corrected writing, as recorded by me and by native speakers. The reason is that this is content where I have tried to express myself and where I have made mistakes. I want to inject the correct model into my brain, both struggling on my own to read it, and listening native speakers. I believe that in combination with reviewing words and phrases from this text, I will achieve natural usage faster than by trying to remember rules and doing exercizes.

If I receive a native speaker version, I will Upload the whole thing as content in LingQ, in the Beginner II section. This should be quite easy content for a low intermediate.

Better still if you are a member of LingQ you can upload it directly and earn points as this item is used.

By the way, I am of course prepared to return the favour and record some English corrected writing. Ideally we can use points to ensure that these kind of services can be easily traded among members. Otherwise we are stuck with a sort of direct barter, which is much more limiting. Mark has a bunch of ideas up his sleeve, I know, so I just have to be patient.

Do you think that writing really helps in speaking?
I’ve been writing a lot, in every occasion that appears (you are the one to know that, since LingQ forum and your blog are my main victims!). But I’m trying to speak more now, and I’m FAR from satisfied with the results… I can’t remember even very common words, that I use almost every day in my writing. Frequently I feel completely lost about how to express very simple thoughts, and got stuck…
Bah… I don’t know, maybe I need an extra pill of patience… well, at least, I’m writing a little bit more… rsss…

I think your method of learning (focussing on listening to mp3s and referring to the transcripts) is very sound, especially as it is the only practical way of learning while you are looking after a baby!

Of course it does depend on being able to lay your hands on enough slowly spoken material. Even if you restrict yourself to 15 minutes of new material a day, over 2 years that’s 180 hors, which is more than I have managed to find in Russian.

Having said that, over the last 2 years I have found a few high quality, useful podcasts and language tutorials for Russian beginners. I listen to them by the hour on my mp3 player. I was tempted to load everything into the lingQ library but I figured that even if it’s in the public domain and free you may need the permission of the author/owner.

Would you like me to e-mail you the links? Or post them on the (Russian content) forum?

Now my confidence in reading Russian is increasing I’m on the hunt for stuff on Russian websites. I figure that’s more likely to be at the intermediate to advanced level.

I was scared to try before because some of these Russian entertainment sites look a bit alarming. They keep offering to find me a Russian friend for hot dates and I don’t think I can find the energy. I’ve got flashcards to review.


I don’t know exactly if writing helps in speaking but it helps to find words in what you want to say because you have more time for searching and thinking.
After writing I read loud my writing and at this I have more feeling if it can be correct or not (anyway often it is not ;-(

I’m astonished when I get back my corrected version and read this I think “why could I not find this expression”!

But I know, we all are learners and I hope all possibilities we have here in LingQ will help me to be more and more fluenty.

fluently !


Please let us know he names of these sources. some of them may not object to us using their material as long as we acknowledge the source.

Ana and Irene, I think writing is a great way to look for words and take the time to find ways to express yourself. It is a chance to use those words that you are not so confident about. When speaking one tends to stay with the words and expressions one is confident about. When writing we can be a little more adventurous. The mistakes do not matter, in fact they help us learn, once we get the corrections back.

My son Eric and family are visiting so my intensive Russian is on hold. I signed up for five discussion next week with my tutor to force me stay the course.

I also had some Portuguese discussions with tutor Mairo and tutor Ana. Both were great. I studied the new content that Ana put put up and will do some more. I think I will make Friday my Portuguese day.

Meanwhile I have to find a few minutes here and there to get at my Russian while my family is here. I will listen in the car on my way to go shopping.