BOLIO wrote:I have Russian for Beginners by Charles Duff and the Modern Russian 1 and 2 workbooks with the archived audio online. Would it be advisable to start my Russian Journey with these two sources in conjunction with each other?
Personally I would not do those together, because that's 1960s grammar torture x2. Although super effective, hardly anyone can bear that much old fashioned grammar study! I myself tried front-loading grammar and vocabulary with Russian and ran my first attempt with Russian right into the wall with that approach. Russian just has way too much complicated grammar to get it all out of the way up-front before starting to have fun with the language. Russian grammar tends to feel like an unsurmountable mountain, better approached slowly and iteratively rather than trying to push through every aspect of it fast. Basically the way not to do it in my experience is to only use old-fashioned grammar heavy courses / books and expect to get to native materials that way in 3 months. Ain't going to happen, Russian grammar is too complicated for that and the grammar heavy courses and books waste too much time on drilling all of it. You will want to get it right before moving on to a new grammar aspect and that will just slow you down a lot where it comes to understanding native materials. I tried that approach with Russian World on Youtube which is based on Russian for Everybody and was still unable to decipher even the simplest Children's books with a dictionary after 3 months of torturing myself with grammar + anki every day!
I myself am using Assimil + Duolingo this time round and it's working really well for me. Assimil is more modern and rather amusing at times, doesn't slow you down with drilling the grammar it introduces and it's still not too fast paced either. Duolingo is basically gamified passive grammar study that you can cover as fast as you like too. You don't have to produce much Russian and it gives you lots of exposure to example sentences with different grammar points. I found that half the Duolingo Russian tree covers enough grammar to start deciphering Russian native material with a dictionary without getting too lost over who's killing whom with what. So after 4 weeks of Assimil and half the Duolingo tree I'm now doing intensive reading as well. If I had continued with the heavy grammar drilling it probably would have taken a year or more to get to the same point with understanding, because you basically need all of the grammar to understand even the simplest Children's books! Intensive reading is tough going still, but now I have some fun with the language at least and I find that intensive reading is great to get my vocabulary up to speed, much less boring than Anki! It also reinforces all the grammar seen in the other two approaches and it all starts to lift each other up to the point that Assimil becomes super easy and I don't make as many mistakes when trying to produce Russian sentences in Duolingo. Assimil + Duolingo + intensive reading worked also really well for me with French in the past, so I can really recommend that approach. For Russian you just have to use something else to learn the alphabet though, both don't really teach that properly at all. Russian World maybe, but be careful not to get sucked into it, although nice, comfortable and reassuring it's just super slow paced to the extent that it becomes a waste of time.
Where do your 1960s grammar torture materials fit in? Well, if you want to actually produce at least somewhat correct Russian - super difficult -, that kind of study just has to happen at some point, but it can happen later and over time when you're already having fun with the language. I think those really heavy grammar courses like Modern Russian and Penguin work really well to solidify the grammar and get you producing correct Russian actively. Assimil and Duolingo can't do that, Russian is just too complicated to pick it up without drilling the grammar properly. They can jumpstart you into getting to native materials quickly though. So, my plan was Assimil + Duolingo + intensive reading - I'm right on track with that - and then after I finish Assimil I wanted to do the New Penguin while reading and watching native materials. I have done maybe 2 chapters of the New Penguin to test it and it seems excellent. However, after having a look at Modern Russian I think I might actually go with that instead, because New Penguin doesn't have audio. It's a really good course, but audio drilling is just so much better if you want to speak in the end.
In any case, that's of course only my opinion. I don't know, maybe you're more patient with grammar heavy approaches and less discouraged by slow progress, you seem to have done a lot of FSI with Spanish! However, if you only use those kinds of materials with Russian, expect to see no progress at all in understanding Russian for a very long time. Similarly, don't expect to be produce correct Russian after going through Assimil and Duolingo. The actual language in use is just ridiculously complex in comparison to other languages.