Learn a new language with the content you love (2023)

LingQ tells me that I 'know' just over 125,000 words; this is largely because LingQ has long been my preferred reading medium. I'm strict about what I consider "know" a word. Vaguely acknowledging it is not enough. So (subject to the way LingQ counts Russian words), I think it's a good measure of my current vocabulary.

My story with Russian is that after brief false starts at a young age, I put my head down on January 1, 2011, and committed to studying every day, including Christmas, New Years, and my birthday. At the same time, I had an intensive job, so the amount of study I could do was limited (probably no more than an hour on most days), until July 2015, when I took early retirement to increase my Russian and train myself. to be a translator. . After my retirement, I studied many hours a day, seven days a week. I was studying in several different ways at the same time: specifically to get our Diploma in Translation and also to improve my speaking, listening and reading skills. The fourth discipline, writing, was the fourth of four, and I have probably always used it almost exclusively on social networks (my VK network is quite large and reasonably active).

I think it is important to be very clear about your goals, as this will help you choose your activities. It was always clear to me that in addition to wanting to read and translate, I wanted Russian to become my second spoken language, so I have been practicing speaking ever since I felt brave enough to do so. I searched for Russian conversation partners as soon as I dared, and to this day I Skype two of them every week. I also have a network of personal friends within Russia that I meet when I go there; for several years I spoke to one of them every day, and we still write on most days and talk when we can. It takes practice to say even simple words and word combinations. They sound good in your head and then they go wrong. These days, I have fun dealing with a Russian store, mainly because the conversations are pretty similar and start to flow after a while. But for a long time, getting into Russian stores was a complete pain: one day it was easy, the next I couldn't understand a word, the next they said I sounded like a native, and the fourth time I was back with the assistant muttering 'fucking foreigner'. '. Progress is not linear, and it is important to accept it and try not to dwell on it.

I also consider the practice of listening as part of speaking, so I listen to Echo of Moscow every day, or maybe a podcast about Meduza. A few years ago, when I started listening to the radio, I got discouraged because it was just a stream of gibberish. So the way I came up with the idea was to study the transcripts of the shows on the Echo of Moscow website and listen to each show more than once, unless it was too boring. If I could stand it, I would listen to the show while reading the transcript and then listen to it again without the transcript. Repetition is incredibly important for both listening and speaking, but I understand that it's better to find interesting repetition than boring repetition. My understanding of radio improved very slowly but steadily. It took me a few years to get to where I am now, which is listening to political chat shows or podcasts and getting over 90% the first time. I keep repeating shows, but nowadays only if I'm really interested. I go for a walk with my headphones on, listening, and I always listen while doing chores. There was a time when I quit a job until the end of a show because it was so interesting that I just wanted to keep listening, so the house was a little cleaner as a result...

Radio is much easier for me than TV series or movies. I like series and movies, but I miss a lot of verbal details.

Before the lockdowns, I was going to Russia up to six times a year and I am able to get involved with my friends in most things. They will tell me I speak it well, but I will tell them no because my spoken Russian seems to be 50% stronger than my English. But it is enough to survive. What I'm saying now is that I can get out of any jam I get into. Linguistic scraping, I mean. In other words, I'm getting better at saying/paraphrasing things I'm struggling with and no longer freak out when I don't understand what I'm being told. That too took time and involved going through a lot of discomfort and quiet time. I'm not sure I see an alternative to doing it wrong, at least to begin with. I don't think you can introduce yourself and speak well just because you've read a lot.

When I use a dictionary while reading, I now work as a literary translator, so I use a full set of dictionaries all the time, including giant English dictionaries and monolingual Russian dictionaries. Probably not a fair test! If I'm reading just to myself, then I can study the book as a text and look up words, but every once in a while I read a book without a dictionary because sometimes I just can't stand it all slowing down and treating every act of reading as an exercise. school. When I skim through it without referencing anything, I'm sure I miss a lot of detail, but I get the flow.

I wouldn't worry about how much time you're taking, although if I were you, I'd set goals and figure out how you want to achieve them. It took me many years to get to where I'm talking about what I'd like to be, and I'm still nowhere near where I want to be. But that's okay I guess, it's okay to push yourself and demand more, as long as you also take time along the way to celebrate how much progress you've actually made.

Probably a long time. I wish you the best Keep believing, have lots of fun, be brave and incredibly stubborn: when it goes wrong, do it again.

Oh, wanted to add, don't worry about getting a certain % of blue words on each new text. Much of this is due to the fact that LingQ views each occurrence of хороший as a separate word. 6 cases, three genders, two numbers, so many different words! But you know them all, because you can reject adjectives. (This might make you think that LingQ is counting how many words you know, but look at it this way: you know the patterns, and therefore can reject all Russian adjectives and conjugate many verbs. You see a 'new' in LingQ in blue, but you already know, because it is the dative plural of a well-known adjective, which is found in LingQ for the first time. On the other hand, there are thousands of forms that you know but just can't find in LingQ). If I run a novel in LingQ, there will be 10%, 12%, sometimes even more blue words, occasionally less than 10%: but nowadays I don't need to do LingQ for most of them, because they are not "new". '. They are just shapes that LingQ hasn't seen.

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