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Tips for Language Beginners

Before you buy your first book or invest in an online language course, you should decide how committed you are to learning the language. Do you just want to learn a few phrases so as to order a beer when you take a trip, or do you really want to immerse yourself and become conversational? If you just want to learn a few phrases to get by, that's fine, but it's really not language learning. It's, well, phrase learning. But I doubt you would've come this far and found this particular article if you only wanted to say, "Beer, please" on your next trip to Moscow. You're here because you're ready to commit to becoming conversational in Russian. And the good news is, it's possible no matter what your experience has been with learning languages in the past. But as I said, you need to solidify your commitment. You'll need to set aside thirty minutes every other day to studying.

Next you'll need some props, namely blank flashcards and a small notebook. The flashcards are for keeping track of your ever-growing vocabulary, and the notebook is to keep track of grammar points and to jot down example sentences. Please don't go digital with these things. Write your words by hand. On paper. They become a part of you that way, much more so than if you upload them from some site onto your phone or tablet or iPad. When you look at your pile of cards, there's no denying your progress, nor denying you learned a particular word.

Next: Be sure to practice what you learn. To learn Russian faster, play with it. For example, if you learn the phrase, "I have a brother," try to insert other nouns into that construction.. "I have a sister. I have a friend. I have a wife. I have a car." and so on. Try to do this when you're away from the course you're studying. Do it in your car. Turn off the radio and use that time to have conversations with yourself in your new language. If you know the phrase, "I see a ____ " use it to point out all the things you see. I remember very early in my study of Russian, I'd walk through my neighborhood and say, "That is a tree. I see a car. That is a cat. I see a house." Okay, it's not Shakespeare, but I was doing my best to use what I'd learned. In fancy terms, I was internalizing my new knowledge. It wasn't something I did just while sitting at the computer. I used it outside, with friends, at work, in the grocery store, etc.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 12 November 2012 10:17 )