Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The difficulties of Russian

As I will be starting a degree in Russian next year, I have been trying hard to get a decent knowledge of it, so that I will be in a strong position when I start at university. One aspect, however, is really becoming quite a challenge for me.

It's not the fact that words change depending on what role they play in the sentence (for example the city of Moscow is pronounced Moskva, but if you are in Moscow, it's Moskvye). It's not even the fact that verb conjugation could make a grown man cry.

It's the alphabet, more specifically the fact that the 30-or-so letters, when printed, bear absolutely no resemblance to the handwritten letters, and vice versa.

As you can see by my handy example picture, not only are some letters completely transformed, but when handwritten, the uppercase version of 'g' is 'D', and when printed it is the letter Д. This absolutely does not work in my brain!

The only way to get it into the brain is through practise, which leads me onto a very important point for those trying to learn a language. The first rule is that you have to make time for learning new things. Sounds obvious, but it is easy to spend a few hours 'planning' how you would ideally learn vocab, or spend a bus journey thinking how nice it would be to have more time for your Spanish, when that time could easily be spent actually interacting with the language. Personally, whenever I travel, I listen to podcasts in German, which gives me a few hours a week to practise my listening skills without any input from me.

The second, and perhaps more relevant, rule is that you have to write things down. It's not so much that the notes are useful afterwards, though they might be, but the physical act of writing down a word makes it easier to remember afterwards, especially if you are learning through a medium like Duolingo, where you are typing rather than writing. It also is a good way of making sure you're still paying attention, because if your mind is elsewhere, your notes will show it.

So, alas, I will be persevering with my Russian, in the hope that it pays off at some point! It's a challenge, that's for sure - but if there's no challenge, there's no fun. :)

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