How to attain native fluency in Russian

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lemme_try
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Re: How to attain native fluency in Russian

Postby lemme_try » Sat Jan 30, 2021 3:21 am

Le Baron wrote:Real instances of the gap being small, even for bilinguals, is itself so small that there's even a special phrase: 'true bilinguals'. There are indeed variations in usage for different families, but one language generally always dominates.


I am not a linguist. Was just talking from my experience. True, one language does dominate, and both of them grow at different rates. Our perception of the language, the usefulness and prestige affects how fast it grows.
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Re: How to attain native fluency in Russian

Postby tastyonions » Sat Jan 30, 2021 1:35 pm

s_allard wrote:Since I am working diligently on Russian myself, I'll have a quick go at this question. First of all, whoa!, you're not going to attain native fluency in Russian any time soon and probably not in the foreseeable future if the goal is to speak Russian like a Russian. This is not to discourage you but unless you have lived in Russia at an early age, you will not sound like a native speaker. I know that some other participants in this forum will dispute this statement but I have never seen any proof to the contrary.

That said, in terms of tips or recommendations, there is no magic solution. There are lots of books, methods and endless websites available. The big step I intend to take once we get out of this pandemic is a stay at a language school in Russia. Maybe that should be on your bucket list.

I'm curious what you would consider an "early age." A coworker of mine moved to the US from Russia around age 10 speaking little to no English. Now in his 30s, I would never be able to tell him apart from someone who was born and raised here speaking only English. From what I understand the "critical period" is normally thought to end around six years or something, right?
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Re: How to attain native fluency in Russian

Postby tomos1729 » Sat Jan 30, 2021 9:57 pm

s_allard wrote: I know that some other participants in this forum will dispute this statement but I have never seen any proof to the contrary.


That's (very) bad logic, and should never (ever) be used as an argument for anything.

I don't like sounding unfriendly, so let me just say I don't mean it in an unfriendly way and I also accuse my friends of bad logic all the time :D
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Re: How to attain native fluency in Russian

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Sun Jan 31, 2021 1:03 am

Le Baron wrote:Real instances of the gap being small, even for bilinguals, is itself so small that there's even a special phrase: 'true bilinguals'. There are indeed variations in usage for different families, but one language generally always dominates.


I met a true French/English bilingual in grad school and it was like meeting a unicorn. I instantly realized that all the other bilinguals I had met previously were mere horses. (Some of them very impressive horses, but still.) He had an American mother and a French father. He was raised in Paris, but crucially went to college in the United States. So life long consistent exposure to both languages, plus serious immersion in both languages. He was also truly bicultural which was wild to watch. He would give an American student a completely natural “Hey dude” with a shoulder punch and a second later, bisou, bisou a French student. I don’t think I’m that at ease in my native language and culture. Some people have a gift. And most of us don’t have that gift or that kind of language exposure and that’s totally okay too.
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Re: How to attain native fluency in Russian

Postby Antigravitas » Sun Jan 31, 2021 4:28 am

Thanks guys, you've given me more than sufficient information to work with and have found my motivation again to make my pursuit of Russian fluency more intense. It seems there is nothing wrong with not attaining native level fluency as I had once thought (I don't know how I got that thought tbh, must be the perfectionist or OCD in me). I guess my aim now is to focus and enjoy the process more and be happy with whatever progress that arises. If I hit another block (I expect it to be mental), I'll be sure to ask the necessary questions again, as I seem to need the help of more experienced learners to keep myself on track.
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s_allard
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Re: How to attain native fluency in Russian

Postby s_allard » Sun Jan 31, 2021 5:47 am

tastyonions wrote:
s_allard wrote:Since I am working diligently on Russian myself, I'll have a quick go at this question. First of all, whoa!, you're not going to attain native fluency in Russian any time soon and probably not in the foreseeable future if the goal is to speak Russian like a Russian. This is not to discourage you but unless you have lived in Russia at an early age, you will not sound like a native speaker. I know that some other participants in this forum will dispute this statement but I have never seen any proof to the contrary.

That said, in terms of tips or recommendations, there is no magic solution. There are lots of books, methods and endless websites available. The big step I intend to take once we get out of this pandemic is a stay at a language school in Russia. Maybe that should be on your bucket list.

I'm curious what you would consider an "early age." A coworker of mine moved to the US from Russia around age 10 speaking little to no English. Now in his 30s, I would never be able to tell him apart from someone who was born and raised here speaking only English. From what I understand the "critical period" is normally thought to end around six years or something, right?


The "early age" is my post was a somewhat oblique reference to another thread about the so-called "critical period" for additional language learning. It's an old idea that basically says that people who achieve high levels of fluidity and especially native-like pronunciation usually have started the language before the age of around 18. That thread got quite heated and was shut down by a forum administrator.

With specific reference to the question about learning Russian, my answer was that unless the OP spends a significant amount of time in Russia before the age of 18, their chance of speaking with anything close to native pronunciation is very small.
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Re: How to attain native fluency in Russian

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Jan 31, 2021 6:25 am

You know you're a language nerd when....

...all this discussion makes you want to learn Russian ;)

....but that's not going to happen (at least not right now)... :(
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Re: How to attain native fluency in Russian

Postby SweepingKale » Mon Feb 08, 2021 7:32 pm

Hi Antigravitas,

A lot of people here are discouraging you, so I'm going to (partly) play devil's advocate and assume that at least for some people, it is possible to achieve native fluency in a language they learned as an adult.

True story: I don't usually watch TV, but recently I watched a Russian TV show with my dad. When I started watching it, I assumed that both of the main guys on the show were born and lived in Russia their whole lives, because both of them sounded perfect in Russian. I later found out that one of them* had been born in the US, and came to Russia when he was 16. (He was older. His parents moved to the USSR because they believed in communism.)

So here you have a guy who came to Russia at age 16, and he had reached native-level fluency in Russian! And his English was crap, to boot, which makes me think that he must have forgotten it.

(*I can find out his name, if you're interested.)


Antigravitas wrote:I'm willing to spend decades on this, but I have no way of going about it. I've been experimenting with various language-learning methods for about 4 years, and still have barely made progress in terms of fluency, the progress is mostly in the form of knowing 'about' the language but it hasn't converted into any form of fluency.


When you say that you only know "about" Russian, and not the actual language itself - do you mean that you just know the kind of factoids about Russian that someone could find on a Wikipedia article?

How is it possible to study a language for 4 years and still know nothing? I'm confused.

Antigravitas wrote:I'm also having difficulty since certain words in Russian, despite having analogical counterparts in English, are used differently somewhat, and I can't figure out when to use those words in a way that would make me sound native (it seems it's not enough to know the English translation of most Russian words).


Any examples of Russian words you're struggling with?

Antigravitas wrote:My main difficulty is having to figure out when to use set phrases and words in a way that would not reveal me too much as a foreigner, and also the tone used and 'pitch' to make the sentences sound more authentic.


This is the wrong thing to be worried about right now.

Even if you were a 4 year old who had just been dumped in a Russian daycare, you would still sound stupid in Russian at first. Don't beat yourself up too much for not being 100% perfect right away; just keep focusing on things that you

Antigravitas wrote:Does it just come about naturally after years or decades of immersion in textbooks or movies, etc. or is it something you need to actively strive towards. Any tips or general advice that u guys cud offer that might help me quench this fire of doubt so that i can keep machete-ing forward thru the dense jungle, that is Russian?


1) Have you tried any immersion so far (in the 4 years you claim to have been learning Russian)? It certainly can't make things worse.

2) Yes, you need to keep machete-ing forward ;)
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Re: How to attain native fluency in Russian

Postby Antigravitas » Sat Feb 13, 2021 3:18 am

Some exampls of word groups I have trouble with are:

to travel/ move
Распространять - Мысль распространяется по эфиру со скоростью света
Путешествовать - Мы путешествуем по России
передвигаться - Ангелы могут передвигаться по воздуху
Двигаться -
Сдвигаться

thru practice and self-awareness I'm able to figure out which one works in which context, but I'm far from perfect in terms of reflex execution (speaking leaves no room for thinking)

another is:
Выделить
Отводить
Посылать
Отправить

they have more or less similar meanings. Выделить эти помещения для вечеринок, Отводить эти помощения на вечеринки.....which one is correct and am I even using the correct preposition......does the phrase sound colloquial enough or natural. It's driving me nuts lol.
Выделить помощь? посылать помощь? или отправить помощь? оказывать помощь? which one lol.

Does one attain correct automaticity with time and experience eventually?
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Re: How to attain native fluency in Russian

Postby leosmith » Sat Feb 13, 2021 4:23 am

Antigravitas wrote:Some exampls of word groups I have trouble with are:

But that's aspect. Everybody struggles with aspect. Russian aspect is the hardest grammar point of any language that I study. 50 pages are devoted to it in A Comprehensive Russian Grammar - by far the most coverage of any point in the book. Required reading if you really think this is the time to tackle it. Before I got that book, asking many natives many questions about it in many forums didn't help me much; they tended to tell me 2 or 3 rules about aspect that I already knew, and tried to convince me that it was easy. If I recall, there are actually more than two dozen rules.

But is that really where you are at right now? If you know all the basic stuff that comes before that then I wouldn't think that you'd feel like you know "nothing". I still make aspect mistakes, but I understand and speak the language pretty well.
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