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5 New Year’s Resolutions To Help You Learn Russian In 2017 Posted by on Jan 5, 2017 in language, Russian for beginners

man reading

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Perhaps some of our readers have made resolutions for the new year. Along with career and fitness goals, would you like to learn Russian or improve your current level? Maybe it’s not the first time you’ve tried to do so, but things did not always work out in the past. Here are five areas that will help you get tangible results in your learning endeavors.

1. Become Literate

The greatest obstacle to learning Russian, in the minds of many prospective students, is the Cyrillic alphabet. Nothing could be further from the truth! The alphabet has a finite number of characters (33), many of which are reminiscent of Latin and Greek letters. I’ve witnessed learners with no prior knowledge of Russian grow comfortable with the alphabet within a couple of weeks.

You may want to start with our overview of the Russian alphabet. You could be recognizing international words and brand names written in Cyrillic before you learned your first word in Russian! Transparent Language Online offers alphabet courses, which will help you be confident with the new writing system.

2. Learn Practical Vocabulary

group talking

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It can be frustrating to claw your way through the first units of a language book that talk about what color eyes you have and what the capital of the country is, all the while thinking “I don’t know how to ask for directions to my hotel or tell someone what I did last night.”

Survival phrases are the first place you should check if you are a complete beginner. We’ve compiled a list of resources for beginners that points you to some useful vocabulary you can start using from day one. You may especially want to check out our popular post on 100 must-know Russian words to get a solid foundation in basic Russian vocabulary. Finally, for vocabulary in specific fields that may be relevant to your situation, from food to photography, see our thematic vocabulary articles.

3. Find Reference Materials

Often when learning a language, especially outside the formal classroom setting, we are stumped by a challenge we cannot overcome on our own. What do you do then? If you consult a dictionary or an automatic translation site, how do you know if the output is really what one says in a given situation?

We’ve put together some guidelines on how to best use search engines and corpora. Another useful post is this overview of the Ozhegov dictionary and how you can access it via Wiktionary.

4. Use Authentic Sources

old radio

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So, you’ve reached a point where you have learned some basics and know where to get find answers if you need them. You must now be eager to see how the language functions in the real world!

As a starting point, check out this list of tips for using media for getting exposed to authentic Russian and a post on DIY Russian immersion. There are other ways of tweaking your browsing habits to sneak Russian into your online experience. You may also want to look at these annotated radio shows we’ve featured on this blog.

5. Get Practice

Finally, make sure you put your hard-earned skills to good use! Find opportunities to practice, whether with other learners or with native speakers. Meetup.com is a good place to look for a Russian group in your area. Your local university may also have Russian events.

Transparent Language offers online language tutoring, too. Tried methods like penpals, Skype buddies, or Russian-speaking acquaintances are also perfectly acceptable ways of practicing your Russian. Don’t get discouraged if they first answer you in English — you are probably one of the few learners of Russian they’ve met!

Good luck with your New Year’s resolutions, and we hope learning Russian is among them!

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.