As usual, it's always a bag of mixed feelings when starting a new language. On one hand, the sheer excitement and eagerness to explore the unknown. On the other hand, the frustration of trying to wrap one's head around said unknown in order to progress past A0 at least.
Luckily, I did some dabbling in Russian and used that time to learn the alphabet. It was a bit overwhelming then, but I think my brain's gotten somewhat used to seeing a 'B' and thinking 'Hey, that's actually a v'
Now, on to the resources.
- Michel Thomas Russian
- Assimil Russian without Toil 1951 and the 2011 Russian with Ease
- My copy of the New Russian Penguin Course should soon arrive, but I'm using the library version for now.
- Pimsleur Russian
-Decided to hold off on Modern Russian for now until I get to A2.
-Holding off on Glossika Russian till then.
-Uncle Davey's Russian playlist
- Russian World on Youtube
I may dip in and out of other resources that catch my eye, but these are the ones I will focus on for now.
MICHEL THOMAS RUSSIAN
So far, I've gone over the first two 2 CDs of Michel Thomas Russian Foundation. I somewhat have misgivings about this course, but its too early to form any conclusions.
What I like:
- As always, the calm approach to teaching a new language. As usual, it starts with an identification of the cognates between Russian and English and we're gradually eased into making simple sentences. This is a great confidence builder, in my opinion, as it seems to dispel the notion that the language is actually difficult. Keep Calm and Learn A New Language.
-The non grammar heavy approach to teaching grammar. I'd prefer to learn a grammar concept without knowing its official name, and then learn the official usage later. When starting German and language learning in general, I learnt 'mir' as 'to me' and was fully familiar with it before I learnt it was the 'Ist person dative personal pronoun'. Heavy grammar upfront = not helpful. However, I already have a knowledge of Grammarian or Grammalese now, so I automatically make associations even when not given the explicit term in the course ie Мне = mir, as far as I know etc
- The fact that the instructor, who is a successor of the late Michel Thomas, is a Russian native speaker. This is rather helpful, as Michel's pronounciation used to be a small gripe of mine when it came to the other courses. To be fair, he wasn't a native speaker of those languages, and I can't say that hearing his pronunciation at the A0 level negatively impacted my pronunciation now ie since shadowing a quarter of Assimil tends to set things right. However, it's nicer to have a native speaker conduct the course, even if she lack's Michel's flair for teaching and his warmth.
What I don't like
- I know this has been repeated ad nauseam, but the recorded students of a Michel Thomas course tend to be annoying sometimes. For this course, it's particularly in the realm of pronunciation. Their mistakes are even more pronounced when the instructor, who is a native speaker, repeats the correct sentence with the correct pronunciation. In all fairness, these were actually A0 beginners like me and usually selected because they were monolingual people with no experience of language learning, so we should probably be less hard on them. That still doesn't stop an involuntary wince when I hear a sentence being mangled. Wherever they may be now, I do hope their pronunciation is better.
- I read an Amazon review that stated that the course only teaches you two cases, out of Russian's 6. Now, I don't know how true this may be because I haven't progressed much further in the course but I do remember the German course as being inadequate in terms of teaching declension. Perhaps this may be the case. In any case, I like to do a variety of courses so I don't need to rely on this course to teach me that. However, it would be nice to get those explanations in a relatively painless manner, at least enough to get my bearings. I personally find it impossible to learn a new concept from formal explanations, and would rather see it used in context first and informally explained. Comprehension > formality, it seems.
In all, I'll hold my peace until I have finished the Foundation course (which should be in the next 6 days, since 1 CD a day feels natural to me)
After doing a few lessons of Russian with Ease, I have decided to go with the 1951 Russian without Toil. I've read, on this board, that the Russian with Ease progresses too slowly and that the Russian without Toil progresses too sharply.
At this initial stage, I'd have to agree with both statements.
Just off the bat, Lesson 1 of Russian without Toil flings 11 sentences at you (including a conjugation of 'to like' on line 10), which are all spoken fairly quickly by two different voice actors. The sentences are not complicated, as it is Lesson 1 after all, but it's a lot to take in at first especially when compared to Lesson 1 of Russian With Ease - which gives about 6 sentences spoken quite slowly indeed.
Correct me if I'm wrong, blaurebell, but it seemed you mentioned that the lessons in RWE do not pick up speed until the 20th lesson. This seems true, from my comparison of the corresponding lessons in both courses.
Personally, I don't think I'll mind the steep progression so I will use Russian Without Toil as my primary course. However, I will also use Russian With Ease as an auxiliary course but with no shadowing (since it's rather tiring).
For the time being, I have decided to casually go through the course as quickly as I can since I can't really add a proper shadowing routine to my schedule because of approaching exams. I'll simple read/listen (and occasionally repeat) my way through it, keeping my eyes peeled for anything that can be gleaned really. I'll go through it properly during the summer but this is all I can do now.
Pretty standard. Pronunciation and grammar structures are the key concerns with Russian. Getting started on the first level, since a 30 minute morning slot is easy to fit into my non-summer schedule.
New Penguin Russian Course
My first impression is that the praise it gets is well deserved. The layout is beginner friendly, the explanations are short and sweet, and the exercises are sensible. I'll work through it slowly and in conjunction to Assimil, dipping in to get explanations where Assimil's are lacking. In all, feeling very positive about this course.
Uncle Davey's Playlist/Russian World
Both helped in dispelling some of my confusion, the former with regards to hard and soft consonants, and the latter with regards to Russian cursive.
The use of English grammar in order to explain the concept of hard and soft consonants is certainly helpful. The Latin row over the pronunciation of 'c' also comes to mind, and helps me get my head around it.
The Russian World presenter's combination of a soft Russian accent and an American southern drawl certainly makes me smile. What makes me happier are the videos in which she demonstrates the strokes needed to form the cursive letters. It's far easier, in my opinion, to learn cursive from a video because you can see the beginning and end points of the pen when each letter is formed.
Also, I find that Russian cursive isnt too different from English cursive with regards to the principles behind pen strokes. However, I've already had some experience with cursive prior to this and I wonder if it would be more difficult for a person with no experience with cursive in either language.
And that will be all. Whew, what a long post
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