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Let’s Make Фонарик (a Lantern) For the Holidays Posted by on Dec 23, 2011 in language, Russian for beginners

If you celebrate Christmas and New Year, then you have already украсили ёлку (decorated the Christmas tree). Still, there’s always room for just one more ornament, isn’t there? That’s why today я научу вас (I will teach you) how to make a very simple украшение (an ornament) that even children can make за несколько минут (in just a few minutes).

Actually, I’m going to show it with a video. Yep, this is something new I’m trying for the blog. This way you get to hear the Russian words as well as read them.

Now, since this is my first ever video, not just for this blog, but like for everything, it is not very fancy. «Эмми» за него я не получу (I will not be getting an Emmy for it). But as simple as it is, it was quite a challenge снимать (here: to shoot).

First, it was hard придумать (to think of) something for a video. Thankfully, one of the blog readers, Rob, gave me an idea when he sent me сценарий (a script) for an origami how-to video (awesome script and I do hope Rob makes a video with it).

Then I had to go through close to дюжина дублей (a dozen takes) before getting it almost right. On the first try, my видеокамера (video camera) fell down in the middle of all the folding and creasing action. In several takes I held the materials either слишком высоко (too high) or not in the center of the screen. In one of the takes I started заикаться (to stutter). And in one otherwise perfect take I completely blanked out on how to say “to eyeball it” in Russian.

Now, you notice that I said everything in the video is “almost right”. Yes, there’s one little thing in it… Try to spot it (hint: it has to do with how counting in Russian).

Oh, and the ornament you will be making or at least watching me make is called фонарик (a lantern) in Russian. So сделайте мне одолжение (do me a favor), watch this video and tell me what can I do better next time. And if you make фонарик (a lantern) or even a whole гирлянда (a string) of them, I’d love to see the pictures!

Finally, to all the readers who are getting ready to celebrate Рождество (Christmas) this Sunday – Merry Christmas!

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  1. JohnS:


    This video presentation is a welcome variation in instruction.
    It’s nice to hear the voice behind these very interesting and informative instructional blogs.
    No matter how studiously one may study a written word with all the stress indicators, hearing the spoken words is such an important and invaluable part of the learning process.
    12 rehearsals/retakes! Wow! Thanks for all you efforts.
    The inserted super-titles are very helpful in associating sound and pronunciation to the written language.
    Could the ‘little thing’ you’re referring to be the mixing of ordinal and cardinal numbers in counting (instead of одна, perhaps ‘первая’?) Anyway, I hope we see more videos. Thanks again!

    • yelena:

      @JohnS John, you are on it 🙂 Indeed, I always start counting with “один, одна, одно” instead of “первый, первая, первое”. I know it’s not correct, but I’m too used to it. Even my 5-year old corrects me now 🙂

  2. Minority:

    Yelena, I was impressed about 12 takes! I guess you know something about editing video, ’cause you’ve inserted some text inside. So, I guess you could choose the best takes of several parts of video and then connect ’em.
    Also, there’s an opportunity to delete sound from the videofile at all and add new separate звуковую дорожку, которую уже записать по смонтированному видео. I suppose it would be a little faster.

    About фонарик. If I were you, I’d make it a little higher =)

    Я помню еще несколько новогодних поделок из детства:
    * бумажные цепи [paper chains]. You should take several sheets of coloured paper и нарезать ее короткими полосками. Then we took a stripe and made a ring. Следующая полоска вдевается в крайнее кольцо цепи, и т.д.
    * Снежинки [paper snowflake]. I suppose everybody knows what’s this.
    * Гармошка?? I don’t know how to call it… Anyway, we took a sheet of paper, folded it twice and then made cuts along the paper.. So when we unfold the paper, it looked like that (red lines are places we cut):
    So then we took this paper, растягивали и вешали под потолком.

  3. Marthe:

    Hi =) Love your blog (checking for updates every day), and I think it´s great that you are adding videos to your blog. It´s very helpful to hear the pronunciation on words I`m not familiar with 🙂