Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day 8 - July 8th вы знаете русский?

Как вы поживаете? I'm am learning to say all kinds of stuff. Unfortunately, it's a whole lot of gibberish. I talked to a friend of mine today who cleared up some stuff about the русский язык, like the fact that you will never get used to the genders of words. He also pointed out that there are so many declination of words, that it's hard to pinpoint their root.

Awesome. Imagine me, like Garfield, looking at you right now. Actually, lets do grumpy cat. Let's do a Russian grumpy cat. Let's do an angry, Russian grumpy cat with tanks and planes.. Let's do an angry, grumpy Russian grumpy cat with tanks and planes and a flag. And maybe a huge "NYET". GOOGLE AWAY!
FOUND! I love the internet sometimes.

Anyway, I have a lot to study. And I tore my first vocab card on my makeshift card ring. Awesome. Well, I guess I have to remake it. Today has been a downward swing for the motivation. I know that I have to push through and get over it.

Maybe I should have listened to more Russian TV today. I did more hanging out with friends. Social life is a hindrance. Maybe I should start hanging out in places around Portland where the Russians hang out... like places that sell vodka.

Just kidding. Please don't kill me.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Day 7 - July 7th подскажите пожалуйста

Well, the schedule says "GRAMMAR, VOCAB, LISTENING." I listened to about 3 hours of Russian TV/Radio today, so I guess I got that down in spades. However, I didn't really sit down to study Russian today. I spent a large portion of the day hanging out with friends or taking a nap. That pretty much killed my chances to study Russian.

Anyway, I realize that I need to make it more of a priority. Sure, I listened to some Russian talk radio on the road, and sure I did Pimsleur's lessons 4 and 5 today, which puts me almost a week ahead of schedule, I still didn't do vocab and grammar.

As the saying goes, "you can't build a city without roads," so you can't build a language without a structure (grammar). You also can't build it without materials (vocab). So, I listen (and get very little out of it) and I speak, which is practicing the very few words I know. If I want to actually accomplish this thing, I must STUDY.

Good Luck everyone. Study Hard. Study Smart. Study S-MART.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day 6 - July 6th. REVIEW

Well, today is my first review day. I discovered I'm about about 50 words behind, which is about what I thought earlier in the week. I have to make up for it by doing an extra 10 words a day throughout next week. It's a process, but I hope to get there by continuous effort.

I've found that I will listen Russian TV or radio shows whenever I just have some time, like in the car or at the gym. It's been pretty good. I also find myself doing the Pimsleur language lessons whenever I'm sitting around or walking places. I'm actually ahead on the speaking and listening portions of the study, which I hope will be a good thing for  me. I need more vocab and grammar though.

Grammar is getting me. The genders of words is the bane of my existence, which is pretty much what I thought it was going to be. No surprise there then. I'm actually surprised at some of the things that I do understand, but I'm having problems with a basic sentence. The Penguin books assume that I already know the base structure for a sentence in Russian, which the Pimsleur audio confuses every now and then. Sometimes "A little" comes before the verb, sometimes it comes after.

Well, that is all. Good luck with your studies.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Day 5 - July 5th Русский в доме

Okay, bad pun aside (see above) Russian has been going okay, but I have to critique the "NEW PENGUIN RUSSIAN COURSE," since I have completed 6 lessons so far. Of all the language courses I have worked with over the years, this is probably one of the hardest to use, in my humble opinion. It's very cold, very dry, and doesn't have a lot of explanation. One thing it does well though is give you alot of examples of the lesson it's trying to teach. For example, here's an excerpt from lesson 5:

'In' is B, 'on' is на, 'at' will be B with enclosed spaces or buildings and ('at school' в школе) and на with open spaces and activities/events ('at work'  на работe, 'at a concert' на концерTе). Note that English 'in' sometimes corresponds to Russian на when the place (e.g. street) is an open space or was originally an open space (e.g. вокзал 'station').
in the street            на улице
in the square          на площади
in/at the station      на вокзале

As you can see, it has clear examples, but doesn't have a whole lot of other types of exercises. Just a whole lot of that over and over again each lesson. Very dry. But clear. I guess it depends on your style. This one is very academic and I feel like it might be meant to be accompanied by a professor, someone to have you use the skills presented and be corrected on any issues as you go.

Otherwise, I would say that today was pretty weak. To be honest, this whole week has been pretty weak. There's something I learned from my personal trainer, however, and it's something that I'm trying to put into practice in more than just my food consumption: It's not what happens in one day that will get you, but over the course of a week. If you do bad on one day, you have to correct it a little on the remaining days.

I think the same goes for language study. If you have a weak week (this one was such for me) because you weren't prepared, didn't have the materials or go stuck, you just have to move along and increase your study on the following days or the following weeks to compensate until you reach the point where you've caught yourself and then you can equalize.

For example, according to the plan, I should be at 150 words by the end of the day. I'll likely be closer to 100. That means next week, I will have to increase my words by about 10 a day (over the 5 days of study) to catch up. Of course, I could utilize a review day to learn more and review the whole set to offset this, which is why I made the review days in the first place (tricky tricky, I know). I don't want to burn out, however.

Anyway, no soap box today. Good luck in your language studies.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 4 - July 4th С Днем независимости

Happy Independence Day USA!

I spent the day with family, playing in the backyard with my nephews, letting them break into the garage and open my books full of language and cultural materials, Barbequeing, etc.

I did take the time to do something entirely UN-American (though I feel like this is one of the greatest weaknesses of the United States) and did some language studies. I worked through Pimsleur Russian 1, Lesson 3 multiple times, stumbling over the combinations of consonants, like "Как вы поживаете?" For my study plan, I did 1.5 hours of speaking, and I listened to almost 2 hours of Russian talk radio. I have found that I'm getting alot more exposure to Russian than I ever did with Indonesian or even still have with Korean or Japanese.

As an interesting note, I have the picture of the 3rd most commonly spoke languages map, obviously focused on the West Coast for today's picture. I think this might be why I'm finding more exposure to Russian. Also, I think that it would be nice if schools would offer languages related to the most commonly spoken languages in their area. I know this means that my beloved High School Japanese classes would give way to Russian. There is another graphic that can be found out there that shows a census breakdown of the entire US that shows something interesting.

This graph shows that if we were to follow a standardized system for education ACROSS the board in the US, then schools would offer "foreign" languages in this order:

Now, if the idea was to go regional, than that would change very drastically. If each US State Education Board concerned themselves with making a unified people within their state, then breakdowns would be different. With the exception of North Dakota, Louisiana, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, most states would have Spanish, but then they would have different 3rd offers, like Russian for Oregon, Vietnamese for Washington, Tagalog for California and Nevada, German for pretty much everything from Idaho to Ohio, with the exceptions of Navajo in Arizona and New Mexico, Vietnamese in Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma, and Arabic in Michigan, then it's pretty much French for the East Coast, except for New York which would have Chinese and Alabama which would have Korean. There's a little Italian and Portuguese snuck in their too, but those would probably fall into the 4th language option category on the East Coast.

An interesting thing would happen, I realized today, if schools were to change to match their areas. Sure, I wouldn't have started with Japanese in high school (I would have probably been in Russian or Chinese), but people would likely be a bit more regional, which wouldn't matter much, since most people in the US tend to stay within their regions anyway. But if people from other regions were to meet up, like say in DC or something, they would be able to more able to represent their region because they would be able to appropriately talk about the multiple cultures there. I mean, everyone knows that Spanish is the second language of the US, but how many people think that Chinese, German and French fight for third? of that Tagalog represents a larger portion of the US than Vietnamese or Italian. Or that in Oregon, the third most common language is Russia.

Anyway, enough of my soap box about education reform and foreign languages in school. Back on the topic of Russian, this app (pictured to the right) is probably one of the best apps I've ever come in contact with. Sure, it gets a little wonky sometimes (name me an app that doesn't get wonky sometimes), but it offers me the opportunity to listen to Russian News or Talk Radio pretty much 24/7. Sometimes, it has dramas, but I try to switch to something with more talking. I think one of the keys to my success, in the end, is going to be this app.

Hope your studies are going well. Until next time. Good Luck with your language studies, friends.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Day 3 - July 3rd добрый день господин петров

Today was a bit different then yesterday. Actually, it was significantly harder than yesterday. I'm not sure what it was, but I think it might have been related to my state of mind, which is probably something that I should have considered. Maybe it was just a case of the Thursdays...

Anyway, today I accidentally did FRIDAY's work schedule. I downloaded an app to watch Russian TV and watched about an hour of утро России on Russia 1 and later some news on Moscow 24. In fact, if you go to утро России's webpage, you'll find an image of today's show. I couldn't figure out why he was ironing, but I assume some day I will understand enough to figure it out. All I knew was, it was baby clothes.

So, after "listening" for an hour and some change, I then realized that Speaking, Vocab and Grammar were on my list for a Thursday. I felt incredibly dumb, but it seems I got some extra practice in. We'll see if that helps me in the future.

But I fought through the lesson and found that it wasn't very clear. I'm hoping that other lessons are much better than that one, but if they are all of the same caliber, I may have to consider switching to a different textbook. Until then, I'll keep fighting my way through. I'm definitely not a fan of the unclear gender of words.

I did end up doing the Pimsleur lesson two 3 times today. I kept having trouble with that too. But I think I got it. I'm finding that Russian has a lot of hard consonants that follow each other. That's rough, but I have to have some serious positive feelings and believe that it's possible.

Anyway, I will get to watch more TV tomorrow. That should be fun. Until then, Good luck with your studies.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 2 - July 2nd, 2014

Today I started the Russian Pimsleur program, so I'm beginning to speak along with the vocab that I been studying. I can form some basic sentences now, which is bot too bad for the second day. Continuing at this rate, I'll be able to accomplish my goals at the rate that I previously hoped.

That being the case, It might not be 6months to being really good at the language. Of course, I'm sure I'll encounter a series of setbacks in the future, so I'll remember this moment at that time to be able to motivate myself.

So far, aside from the confusing gender changes, Russian is not as hard as I expected. Thats a very good thing. I hope the rest of you are doing well when it comes to your language studies.

Until next time, STUDY HARD!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day 1 - July 1st, 2014

доброе утро

Today I began the challenge of learning Russian in 30 days. Like I said in my previous post, I would likely stick with this one for much longer, since my new study program adds speaking and listening practice and a target of 1000 words by the end of the 30 days, so this "30 day language challenge" may end up being a 60, 90 or even 180 day challenge, since they say that a person must know 3000 words to be able to conduct just about every conversation in the language they could or would have in a normal day.

I started the day and had a few hiccups. For example, I forgot the Russian has a different alphabet, so I spent time learning it and then I spent a whole lot of time practicing reading it until I felt capable enough. I mean, I just kept sounding out words and reading them (without knowing their meaning) until I felt that I could recognize the characters. Some of the letters, like ж and у kept throwing me off because I kept thinking in terms of NON RUSSIAN, which was obviously a rookie mistake, but I started to get the hang of them (the transliteration of ж is ZH which kept making me think of the Chinese "J" rather than the actual "sh"-esk sound). 

In the end, I have 40 vocab words for today and I covered the first 3 lessons of the course book. I don't know that I'm going to like the 3 genders thing in Russian, but I'm going to keep a positive outlook.

Until next time, JUST KEEP STUDYING.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Starting again

After watching a series of recent TED talks, I've decided that I'm going to once again begin the 30 day language challenge. I have modified this to reflect some new things I've learned, like the importance of speaking the language during the learning process and the importance of reviewing. Some of this I learned from my previous attempt with Indonesian.

I have been debating between Russian and Arabic, but I think that I have more Russian resources at home. Therefore, without going out and bankrupting myself to buy the necessary equipment, I chose Russian out of convenience. We shall see how this goes.

I will be posting videos of my progress, so I hope that any readers would be willing to watch those. I will have to post them to my Youtube Channel, so hopefully that goes easily.

Again, here's what I need to do the challenge

• Notebook
• Coursebook in the target language (“Teach yourself Chinese,” etc.)
• Grammar book for the target language
• Dictionary for the target language
 • Phrase book for the target language (Both Farber and Hawke recommend Berlitz)
• Blank 3x5 cards
• Language CD/MP3’s
• A Quick Reference sheet
• Newspaper or Magazine
• Interactive Computer programs to do instead of computer games
• Movies and music in the target language
• Highlighter pens

Here's what my week study will consist of

Week 1Grammar (5), Vocab (30), Listen (30m)Speak (40m), Vocab (30), Review GrammarListen (30m), Review Vocab (60), Review GrammarGrammar (5), Vocab (30), Speak (40m)Grammar (5), Vocab (30), Listen (30m)Speak (40m), Vocab (30), Review GrammarREVIEW

That should help things along quite nicely. It means, though, that the 30 day language challenge will draw out to a 180 challenge (6 months) to go from NOTHING to EXPERT. However, at the end of 30 days, I should be able to go from NOTHING to INTERMEDIATE.