neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

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neofight78
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency [TAC 2016]

Postby neofight78 » Sat Nov 26, 2016 2:21 pm

Hmm.... what else has been going on? I've almost worked though all my computing/programming vocab lists, and have recently started taking some online lessons. Of course language teachers are no help here, so I've jumped over to upwork and hired a few programmers there to help me learn to talk about programming. It's early days but I quite happy that the vocab I've learned has given me a sufficient base to talk about most things. It should now be about plugging gaps, activation and discovering more natural ways of expressing things. I think in a few months I should get quite far. The main difficulty is having to press my "tutors" into typing correction into the chat, so that I have something to revise afterwards. But teaching programmers to teach is definitely easier than the reverse would be!
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency [TAC 2016]

Postby neofight78 » Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:57 pm

Continuing to work with my programmer friends, and I'm now regularly adding new terms and corrections in to my Anki decks. There will be a bit of an interruption over the Christmas period, but I feel like I'm getting into a rhythm. I keep having to remind the programmers to give me corrections, but hey that's also true of a lot of professional teachers. I think in a few months I should have quite a good level in this subject area, at least enough to confidently start work here in Russia.

Prompted by a Sol's log entry I took another look at Физрук. The first time I watched the first episode I was promptly scared away by the incomprehensible Russian. Now I can understand most of it, but there are still sections that are incompressible babble. It maybe I need to look more into lower register/slang type stuff.

Unusually for me I've been getting into more of a grammar groove recently. At an advanced level it's just not possible to work from one book, you need to pick and choose from difference places, skipping stuff you know and plugging gaps etc. Also the quality of explanation at this level is pretty poor, often it's either non–existent, incomprehensible or plain wrong. As such there is a need to cross reference stuff, and occasionally jettison material to ensure you are not feeding yourself plain junk.

On the downside vocabulary and reading has fallen by the wayside somewhat. In the case of vocabulary, I feel I've crammed a bunch of new words over the last few months, and my brain could probably do with a rest from the force feeding.

Another video which I stumbled across again and used to be hard to follow, but which I now easily understand:



Progress is slow and steady, but looking back far enough it's always apparent! :D
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:50 pm

Ok, time for the annual (well ok this is the second one) retrospective and plans for the new year.

First let's look back to last year's post:

neofight78 wrote:
  • Listening Comprehension
      As previously discussed this was a bit of a revelation in the exam. Comprehension in conversation is excellent, but somewhat poorer for films, news, and radio etc. So I want to tackle this head on. I've got two approaches in mind, but feel free to chip in with more. I would also say, I am still uncertain as to how effective these two approaches are.

    • I've already started using subs2srs a little, I'm going to try to ramp this up a bit.
    • I want to work with short clips intensively, listening, re-listening and then comparing with the transcript, re-listening to the bits I could decipher before. This is what we did in the classes in the language school.


I did use subs2srs for most of the year. Well, that is, up to my arrival in Russia. I think it was a useful exercise, I certainly learned stuff, but I can't say with any certainty how much it helped with listening comprehension. I suspect that the effect was not great. As for the intensive listening, it never happened! :lol: I think my listening comprehension has improved, but I thinks that's really a combination of knowing more words and volume of exposure to the language.

neofight78 wrote:
  • Grammar
      I want to attack this on two fronts. I want to cover new areas and also tackle those things I regularly get wrong before they become too ingrained. A couple of issues I feel may need tackling are below, although I will consult with my teacher and just accordingly.

    • Aspect - I learned enough rules to get a good result in the exam. But it requires some work to get all this right when speaking and writing. Any good sources of instruction and practice material would be welcome.
    • Verb conjugation - I've never been very systematic with this, so there are some holes. Most of the time I am fine, but sometimes I know the infinitive but I'm not sure how to conjugate it.
    • Case endings - Another back to basic item. Most of the time I am fine, but I'm a bit weaker on some more of the less frequent endings. So it needs a bit of revision for these.


I've recently made a start on aspect, working through a book which contains around 70 rules governing aspect. As a beginner you are always told "imperfective is about process, perfective is about result". It seems to me that this rule is simplistic to the point of being harmful, it's often not true or impossible to apply.

I've done nothing on verb conjugation, I guess it's turned out not to be such a big priority. Although I shall probably need to return to it at some point. However, it has become apparent through the university course that the imperative is a big area of weakness. So I may look at the imperative in more detail in the near future.

We've been doing a lot on the case government of verbs in the university lessons, which has had the side effect of reinforcing the case endings. There's still some work to be done here, but it's not quite such a priority now.

neofight78 wrote:
  • Speaking
      My speaking is reasonable, although I tend to be a little bit on the slow side. I guess there are a couple of factors, some of the grammar points above can slow me down sometimes. Often I have to work around gaps in vocabulary, or I am missing a construction necessary to express an idea. I'm getting plenty of conversation practice, so I think as my other studies progress and fill those holes in, my speaking will get better by itself.


My prediction about was speaking was spot on, of course I am also greatly helped by immersion.

neofight78 wrote:
  • Writing
      Really not a priority for me outside of exam prep. I write the occasional short article on italki, and I'm now regularly texting on whatsapp. In general I think that's enough at this stage.


Yep, not done anything on this :lol: I toyed with the idea of taking the C1 exam this year, but in the end I decided I was too lazy to do the exam prep, especially the writing. I'm just going to continue trying to improve my level, and see how I feel about the exam next year.

neofight78 wrote:
  • Reading
      The past year or so I've been reading short texts intensively with LingQ. I feel this has worked quite well for me. However, many people, including my teacher, extol the virtues of extensive reading. On the other hand, I think Expugnator recently said that he'd done too much of it and felt that this was a mistake. I did start to try to read a book extensively using Readlang, but I found it tough going and there were to many unknowns and stops and starts to really follow the story. So I gave up. What are peoples's thoughts on this?


I've still stuck to the intensive reading, vocabulary is too much of a problem, so I'll return to this one further down the road. It's possible to read more conversational style stuff without to much problem, but that kind of material tends to be boring! :lol:
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:41 pm

Looking forward to this year, here are some thoughts on my approach.

  • Aspect - Work through the material have on this which is a lot.
  • Going to work through the text book Окно в Россию as framework for my study.
  • I'm going to continue working on to key subject areas of interest: Orthodoxy and Programming.
  • I will of course be continuing my university course at least until the summer.
  • Looking forward to staying longer in Russia, I'm going to try to pass the immigration exam. This shouldn't be too hard, but I'll need to swat up on Russian history and law.

This may all change of course, the main thing is just to keep pushing forward.
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby Ogrim » Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:12 pm

Just dropping by to say I enjoy reading your log and I sort of envy your being in Russia, although Novosibirsk must be pretty cold this time of year?

neofight78 wrote:Recently in one of our classes we did a listening test, which was pretty hard. The speech itself was reasonably slow and clear and I understood good chunks of it. My problem was that the language is just not the kind of Russian I encounter in my studies. However, I am told it's standard Russian, which winds me up no end :oops: . So I'm looking to incorporate some more higher register stuff with fancy terminology. However, it seems to be rather hard to find on the internet (at least for me). Anyhow, the first text I've dug up is Ересь — не ругательство, not sure how well it fits the bill but hey ho. Any recommendations of where I can find more highbrow newspaper type stuff would be appreciated.


What exactly do you mean by highbrow stuff? I see the article you link to is about religion, so I wondered if you are looking for articles with philosphical/theological content in particular or other things as well? Personally I find many articles in Коммерсант quite challenging, in particular the longer reads in their weekly magazine Огонек, but then your Russian is certainly at a higher level than mine, so this may not be what you have in mind?

neofight78 wrote:
  • Reading
      The past year or so I've been reading short texts intensively with LingQ. I feel this has worked quite well for me. However, many people, including my teacher, extol the virtues of extensive reading. On the other hand, I think Expugnator recently said that he'd done too much of it and felt that this was a mistake. I did start to try to read a book extensively using Readlang, but I found it tough going and there were to many unknowns and stops and starts to really follow the story. So I gave up. What are peoples's thoughts on this?


neofight78 wrote:I've still stuck to the intensive reading, vocabulary is too much of a problem, so I'll return to this one further down the road. It's possible to read more conversational style stuff without to much problem, but that kind of material tends to be boring! :lol:


Personally I think I have benefited greatly from extensive reading, or at least semi-intensive reading. With that I mean that I look up words when I feel totally lost, but if I am still able to follow the gist of a story I don't bother checking the meaning of every single noun, verb or adjective, I can often make a good guess from the context. However, if a word I do not know comes up frequently throughout the text, I make sure to add it to my vocab list (I don't use SRS) and the fact that I encounter it frequently will eventually make it stick. Using a Kindle with Russian popup dictionary has also made it much easier to quickly look up words without losing the flow of the narrative.

Thanks for sharing that clip by Уральские пельмени. I enjoy their sketches and have seen quite a few, but not this one before.
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:34 pm

Ogrim wrote:Just dropping by to say I enjoy reading your log and I sort of envy your being in Russia, although Novosibirsk must be pretty cold this time of year?


Thanks, good to know someone is reading and enjoying my log. :) Actually I am in UK for the Christmas break, but I'm flying back on Thursday. The temperature does seem to vary quite a lot, from just a few degrees below 0 and around -30. Actually, I quite like the cold weather. It's fine if you are wrapped up warm and the snow is quite beautiful. As an Englishman the absence of rain is particularly delightful! :lol:

Ogrim wrote:What exactly do you mean by highbrow stuff? I see the article you link to is about religion, so I wondered if you are looking for articles with philosphical/theological content in particular or other things as well? Personally I find many articles in Коммерсант quite challenging, in particular the longer reads in their weekly magazine Огонек, but then your Russian is certainly at a higher level than mine, so this may not be what you have in mind?


Thanks for the links, I shall take a look.

To be honest, I'm not sure myself. I guess it is a certain register, vocabulary and range of grammatical constructions. It's not really related to a concrete subject area per se. I just know that I come across stuff in exams or textbooks that doesn't really correlate with what I'm consuming in the real word. It think it's harder to find because of the modern trend to "dumb down" the level of language used in the news.

Ogrim wrote:Personally I think I have benefited greatly from extensive reading, or at least semi-intensive reading. With that I mean that I look up words when I feel totally lost, but if I am still able to follow the gist of a story I don't bother checking the meaning of every single noun, verb or adjective, I can often make a good guess from the context. However, if a word I do not know comes up frequently throughout the text, I make sure to add it to my vocab list (I don't use SRS) and the fact that I encounter it frequently will eventually make it stick. Using a Kindle with Russian popup dictionary has also made it much easier to quickly look up words without losing the flow of the narrative.


A lot of people extol the virtues of extensive reading, which does make me think that I might be losing out. I suspect it's just the fact that I don't really like being able only to follow the gist. As such I think I just need to increase my vocabulary until it because more tolerable to me. I think a lot of the buzz for me is in being able to understand or express something. When I start to get swamped in the unknown it becomes less enjoyable for me. Perhaps there are other factors, but I think it's essentially down to my personality more than anything.
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:16 pm

I arrived back in Novosibirsk in the wee hours of Friday morning. Suffering horribly from jet lag, I'm typing this at 6am, having been awake for three hours already. :cry:

To be honest I'm not really a self confident person and have a tendency to be shy, but I'm quite pleased with how my confidence seems to be improving, although there is still some way to go. At the airport I spoke to the S7 helpdesk, cash desk and checkin in Russian, despite the latter's attempt to speak to me in English. Nothing amazing in terms of language skills per se, but I was pleased with the way that I confidently dealt with it all, the complication being that I had to pay for an additional suitcase. The only thing that stood out as problematic was that I had to ask for the price to be repeated again more slowly. Generally speed of speech is not something I have a problem with, but numbers seem to be a special case. I expect there must have been a thread dealing with this topic at some point....

I've not really done much in Russian over my 3 week break back in the UK. It was a mad dash of visiting various relatives and friends as well as sorting at various logistics connected with living abroad. As a result I am finding that I have been making some pretty basic mistakes, revealing that things like gender and case are not as well burned into my brain as I would like them to be. Having said that, while I was back home I did pick up on some grammatical mistakes a hertitage speaker made. So perhaps on the passive side things are a bit more locked in. Anyhow, I'm sure I shall quickly regain lost ground now that I'm back in an all Russian environment.

The other consequence of a 3 week break, is that I have a monstrous flashcard backlog. (Long time readers will know this is a recurring theme). I'm easing myself back into it and have started attacking some of my decks but without pushing myself too hard. My course doesn't start up again until the 6th Feb, so I'm hoping I will be caught up or somewhere near caught up by then. In the meantime I shan't be adding much in the way of new cards.

I should be in Russia at least until the middle of summer, so I'm hoping to notch up some good progress over the next 5 months. Although, the more I study the more I realise the Russian language is ridiculously huge both in terms of vocabulary and grammar. It seems impossible that a foreigner should be able to reach a C2 level, but I shan't let that stop me. What a crazy endeavour I have chosen to undertake! :lol:
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:17 pm

P.S. I'm enjoying the weather. Everyone back home asked about the cold, but actually I love it! :D I'll be gutted when spring comes around! :lol:
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby MamaPata » Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:02 am

neofight78 wrote:P.S. I'm enjoying the weather. Everyone back home asked about the cold, but actually I love it! :D I'll be gutted when spring comes around! :lol:


You mean you're not looking forward to all of the mud, when it melts? :o Madness! (I love the cold. I am so sad that I wasn't here when it was really cold in Moscow)

I have a similar problem with numbers - I've put a lot of work into studying them, and I do know them. But when someone says them, I always need an extra minute to work it out. It's not something I'm particularly fussed about, but it's definitely a thing. Given that half the cafes in Russia seem to have 1234567890 as their wifi password, I get lots of practice. :roll:
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Sat Feb 04, 2017 5:54 pm

Hmm.. let's see.. what's been happening over the last few weeks?...

Not quite sure why but I've really started to focus on developing my knowledge of professional language, which in my case is programming. I've also had a bit of a coding itch which has manifested in me learning a bit of Go on the side. Fortuitously I have subsequently discovered that one of the very few meetups from meetup.com is dedicated to Go. This gives me the chance to get more practice in, and perhaps a little networking with an eye on future employment possibilities. They even have a podcast which I've started listening to. The next meeting is tomorrow (technically later on today :o), so we'll see how it goes.

As well as continuing with my lessons with programmers, I've signed up to a site with video courses on programming. There's plenty of content to go at. We'll see how it goes, but certainly my listening comprehension should improve. I'm making notes of any new vocab I hear in order to later add to Anki. On that note, it's interesting to see that I've already clocked up 800 learned technical terms in Anki (I keep them in a separate deck). I remember back in the day I was quite excited that my overall vocabulary had reached such a high number! :lol: Although it does go to show that to really master just one subject area requires a large specialised vocabulary. I'm not sure what the final total might be, but I'm guessing it must be around 2-3 thousand words.

My Saturday lessons on the subject of Orthodoxy have resumed, again I'm feeling the progress that comes from concentrating on one subject area. Plenty more to learn, but I have a decent grip on most texts whereas when I started I understood practically nothing. Just like programming it goes to show there are language islands where certain subjects are inaccessible with just everyday language.

The new semester starts tomorrow. I need to get back cracking on with grammar and not sit in my comfort zone in that regard. I've also yet to tackle my vocabulary flash card mountain. As I metioned previously my confidence level has been growing recently, which has always brings the risk of complacency with is very dangerous for progress.

I was in Moscow recently for a couple of days as I had to make a trip to the British Embassy (Moscow is such an inconvenient location!) Anyhow, I noticed in the train station I picked that the Aeroexpress was leaving from platform 5. This is without consciously listening. Ok the language is probably A1 level stuff, but the fact my brain decided to decode something that I wasn't actively concentrating on is probably new. Perhaps some of this Russian stuff is finally filtering through to the deeper recesses of my brain.

That's all for now, we'll see how term time impacts on my studying!...
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