29 April 2005

Postcards from Minsk: Office of the "President" of the Republic of Belarus

Рээідэнцыя Прээідэнта Рэспублікі Беларусь


Russian for Everybody

Looks like some good basic information on basic Russian grammar and phonetics.
It's free and doesn't require registration.
Russian for Everybody


28 April 2005

In French we say « il pleut des cordes »

I'm sitting outside on our cozy balcony, full of flowers, and it is raining cats and dogs. I wonder how you say this idiomatic expression in Russian.



I tried out the Grammatushka tutorial for learning the Russian alphabet.

In my humble opinion, it's wretched.

If you are learning the Russian alphabet, using a working knowledge of English as a base, then why are they asking you trivia questions in Russian? If you don't know the alphabet, then you can't read the Russian questions!


It is as if they are saying, "Here is the letter г. Now that you see and hear this letter, you should be able to read and comprehend Russian."

Other secondary reasons why I didn't like the Alphabet unit of Grammatushka:
The "Next" button is poorly placed (requiring you to scroll down on each page- you can't even see it in the screen shot above).
There are pop-ups when you answer the trivia questions.
Also, I can't get it to work in FireFox.

Two thumbs down on this lesson.

I will go ahead and try some of the other Grammatushka units to see if they are better for me.


Guilt, once again

Anyse has successfully guilted me into posting. Actually, I'm glad it happened because I have been thinking about russkiblog for over a week, but I can't think of anything to post. So Anyse's comment has sturred me to try harder of thinking of something to post.

About Anyse's comment... I was surprised to find that someone noticed my lack of posting and even more surprised that someone took the time to comment on it. I didn't realise that anyone was regularly reading, so this was quite a shock!

Another blogging topic, not quite related to learning Russian: is it just me or are there significantly more men than women in this blogging-about-learning-Russian-language-and-culture area? It is sometimes hard to tell whether writers (and readers) are men or women, but I feel a little out-numbered on occassion. I'm not complaining, mind you, just curious....


18 April 2005

Disappointing news

I called my Belarussian friend in Boston this past weekend. As you may know, she is supposed to come and visit me in May. I visited her for the first time this past October and I have been waiting for her trip down south to visit me.

(We have been corresponding since 1989, so our first real-life visit in October was exciting and a big success.)

When I called her this past weekend, she was on the bus to NYC because it's a three-day weekend for her. (I'm not sure why.) She told me her great news - she got an internship at a prestigious place for the summer (a place that ALL OF US have heard of). The bad news is that she won't be able to visit me.

I am happy that she has gotten such a great internship. She is very modest about it; she says that maybe no one else applied (yea, right). But I had been so looking forward to showing her my home, my family, all the things that I have been writing her about.

She says that maybe she will be able to come at Thanksgiving. I hope so. Until then, I will keep practicing my Russian lessons so that I can surprise her when she finally arrives with my new-found language skills.

13 April 2005

Roots, roots, roots!

Last night and today during lunch, I have been devoring this book, Roots of the Russian Language: An Elementary Guide to Wordbuilding. It is a great resource. It reminds me of my elementary school class in Latin roots, but now I find the topic of roots much more interesting than I did when I was 11.

Today Ian posted his trials and tribulations with learning Russian vocabulary. I am experiencing some of the same vocabulary-deciphering issues... (does flying saucer mean UFO or Frisbee?), so I hope that this book will help me.

Here is an example of its content from page 72:

Page 72

I think that I will begin making flashcards of these roots to help me along. We all know how my dedication to flash cards is extremely limited, but it seems worth a try.


12 April 2005

My newest book has arrived

Today in the mail I received Roots of the RUSSIAN Language. I am hoping that I can memorize the meanings of these roots and then be able to read more advanced texts.


RS 1-5-3 времена глагола

In today's Rosetta Stone lesson, I have made an unidentified flying discovery.

Today's lesson is verb tenses! I have been looking forward to this lesson for several reasons.

Reason 1: I couldn't imagine how they would teach all those verb tenses by just using photos.
Reason 2: All I recognize is present tense. Well, I have learned the "I am going to eat" type construction (can't remember what this is called) but it doesn't count as a different tense.
Reason 3: I bought the Big Silver Book of Russian Verbs a while back and I really want to use it.

I clearly understand the subject and verbs of these sentences. The last part of the predicate летающую тарелку I don't know, but it has to be talking about the frisbee. I know the word тарелка is plate. It looks similar to the second word there. I know the word летит means "flies" and it has a similar beginning as the first word of the unknown phrase, so maybe it literally means "flying plate." I can see that frisbee = flying plate. Anyway Frisbee is a registered trademark, so in English we are probably SUPPOSED to call it a Frisbee brand flying disc or something.

So I looked up these two unknown Russian words in freetranslation.com.

If you don't know what this phrase means, go ahead and try this yourself.... copy this phrase

летающую тарелку

and paste it into freetranslation to get a gisted English translation.

Did you see that translation?

OK, so maybe I'm right that it literally means flying plate, but I'm not so sure that it means Frisbee brand flying disc.


11 April 2005

Language Learning and Multi-tasking

My sister emailed me today to ask for my advice on choosing a language learning audio class. Of course, I suggested Pimsleur. Of the three brands I have tried, Pimsleur has worked the best for me. I also told her not to try to multi-task while doing her 30 minutes of Pimsleur a day because it won't work very well. It's difficult to concentrate on a new language while cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, ironing, shaving you legs... well, you get the picture. Then she informed me that she was thinking of learning another language during her drive to and from work in order to pass the time more effectively. THEN she asks me who has an extra 30 minutes a day?

She is my sister and I love her dearly, but if she doesn't have 30 minutes of free time in her day, then I am worried about her health and well-being. This brings me to my regular rant about Americans not relaxing enough, working too hard, and not taking enough holidays, but I digress.

Maybe she meant that she doesn't have 30 minutes to devote to giving herself the gift of foreign language. I can understand this. Some people would prefer to spend their 30 extra minutes on woodcarving or sewing or baking or gardening or biking.

The fact that she considers her drive to and from work to be wasted unless she is multi-tasking is a bit worrying. Shouldn't she be concentrating on driving?

Anyway, I told her to get the Pimsleur CDs from her local public library and let me know how it goes. She said that she would try to do it on the drive and if that didn't work, then she would see if she could fit the 30 minutes into her day.
I suggested that we do an experiment. She should do the Pimsleur while driving and I would do the Pimsleur at home with peace and quiet. Then at the end of the first level, we would test to see who had made the most progress. She said it wouldn't be fair because I have already studied the language she wants to learn (that's true, but it was a long time ago) and I have more foreign language studying success.

So I wonder if there are any studies out there that would provide these results.

And one last thing. I doubt that you can learn a language effectively in only 30 minutes a day. You'll eventually need some sort of immersion in order to progress towards fluency. But 30 minutes of Pimsleur is a good start, especially if you want to do it while driving.


Plateau *sigh*

I think I've officially hit a plateau. I've had to repeat the same Pimsleur lesson 3 times and I'm not been motivated to study my grammar lessons or get on with my Rosetta Stone. What's wrong with me, I wonder?

I will do my best to do another Rosetta Stone lesson tonight before bed.

My Belarussian friend will be here next month and I have hardly made any progress in several weeks.


09 April 2005

My inner European

I took that silly quiz on blogthings that tells you your inner European. I came up as French, not Russian. So I took it again, and I came up as French a second time. So I took it a third time and answered the questions totally dishonestly. That third time I was diagnosed as Swedish. No Russian for me. Bof, c'est la vie.

08 April 2005


What on Earth is wrong with Blogger? I wish I knew some appropriate swear words in Russian.

05 April 2005

Another postcard from Minsk: Вiд на вулiцу Камунiстычную

I haven't posted for several days because I'm in a funk. I haven't studied my Russian lessons since Friday (gasp!). The Daylight Savings time change has really messed me up for some reason (perhaps I'm also feeling the effects of my HORRENDOUS seasonal allergies symptoms), so I am taking it easy on myself. Perhaps tomorrow I will have the energy to continue on my Russian language journey!