Russian teacher at Bridge Languages in Denver, Katya Kuhns, knows what it’s like to be on both sides of the desk when it comes to learning a foreign language. She not only teaches Russian, but has also learned several languages herself, including English, Korean, and now Spanish. She shares her expert tips on how to keep learning a language—in this case, Russian– after class is over.
You wish to further your knowledge of the Russian language. You are currently enrolled in Russian classes once or twice a week and diligently do all the homework your teacher gives you. Yet you still wonder what else you can do to boost your knowledge of Russian and practice outside of the classroom. As a Russian teacher, I will share with you five tips that I believe will help you continue learning Russian at home or on the go!
Immerse yourself in Russian.
They say the best way to learn a new language is to stay in a country where that language is spoken. For example, to learn Russian you may want to go to Russia. That way you will be exposed to the Russian language and it will force you to use it in your daily life to order food, take public transportation and make friends. However, if it is not an option for you, do not get discouraged. You still can master a foreign language living in the United States. To do so, try to surround yourself with Russian. Start off with labeling a room in your house with new vocabulary or phrases on sticky notes. Then, go to settings on your phone and change its language to Russian. You can do so even if you are a beginner. Since we use our phones every day, you probably already remember where everything is. Now when your phone is in Russian it will actually challenge your brain to read and understand what it says. The best part is that most of your apps will switch to Russian as well. Google Maps, for example, will give you directions in Russian.
Think in Russian.
You learn a language that other people use every day to communicate their thoughts, wishes and daily events just as you do in English. Start writing short journal entries in Russian. It does not have to be in perfect grammar and some words you may still write in English. After all, this will teach you how to express yourself in Russian. If you do not want your teacher to see what you are writing about, you can post your notes on www.lang-8.com. This is a language-learning website through which fellow learners and native speakers will help correct your writing errors and give you feedback. Alternatively, you can record short videos in Russian and post them on your Instagram or as a Snapchat story.
Join online learning communities.
It is nice to join a community of likeminded people who also study Russian and who go through the same difficulties as you do. It will help you stay motivated, share your experience, ask questions and get extra information. Below are some Russian language forums that you can join on Reddit:
Chat with native speakers.
After your Russian class is over, there are rarely opportunities for you to continue speaking Russian. To overcome shyness and start speaking in Russian, you want to find someone to talk with. Bridge Languages hosts a Russian Social Club where you can practice your speaking and listening skills in Russian outside the classroom as well as meet other members of the community sharing the same interest in learning Russian. Additionally, you may hang out with native speakers in your town or go to http://russianpenpal.com and chat with native speakers online.
Integrate Russian into your daily habits.
Do something that you normally do but add some Russian to it. For example, if you use Facebook and like scrolling your newsfeed whenever you have a chance, join a Russian learning group and get new words and videos every day.
If you like listening to podcasts, there are some in Russian that you can listen to in your car or while walking your dog.
- A Spoonful of Russian
- Speaking Russian
- Slow Russian
Bonus tip: Keep it fun.
Learning a language just through textbooks and grammar drills is not the most exciting. In between classes, keep it fun. Download a language-learning app such as Duolingo, Drops, or Mango and do a lesson or two a day. Watch Russian YouTube videos, listen and sing along to Russian songs on Spotify or read books written in Russian. You can even watch old and new Russian movies with English subtitles. And remember, if there is no challenge, there is no growth.