21 March 2005

Evaluating my progress and planning new methods

How do I know more Russian than I give myself credit for? I've been thinking about the fact that I was so pleasantly surprised at my Russian test results recently. I only expected to get one or two questions correct, but I correctly answered many more than I had expected. The question that I have been asking myself is why did I score much better than I had expected.

Today I read a blog post by Steve Kaufmann on The Linguist on Language blog. In this post he discusses the merits of not learning grammar of an L2. He gives many of the same "arguments" that are also given in support of the Rosetta Stone software. I undertook my Russian language learning on this assumption that we don't need to study grammar in order to learn language. So far, it seems to be working! Although I did buy a couple of Russian grammar books, I have not used them and I am not really interested in reading them. I do feel a tinge of guilt about avoiding these books.

I learned French by the typical classroom method and I am fluent today, so I know the old-fashioned method can work. When I compare the progress I have made by studying Russian on my own and compare it to the progress that I made during the first year of studying French in the classroom, I think that I feel more comfortable with my conversation fluency in Russian, but I am not as comfortable with my reading level.

I understand my CDs and software, I have learned a lot from them, but I have not gained confidence in my skills because I have not yet had the opportunity to speak to a native speaker. The test that I took the other day has given me one notch more of confidence. Honestly, I am still nervous about speaking to a native speaker. I know that I will make mistakes, but it am nervous about it nonetheless.

At this time, the only two tools that I am really using on a regular basis are Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur. Also, I check my Russian email daily (and I have learned quite a bit of vocabulary by clicking on the wrong links!).

I think that in order to feel more confident with my Russian reading, I should do more workbook exercises. To test this theory, I will continue doing my regular studies and I will add in 15 minutes of workbook exercises 4 times a week. Next month, I'll report my findings.

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