The easiest way to turn $20 into $1500 or more!

I recently wrote about “What’s the best $20 investment?” and in that article I outlined a concept for participating in a new project that would very likely provide an excellent return on your investment of 20 dollars.

When you invest in stocks, etc then you are essentially a ‘passive investor’. You’re not able to participate much in the growth of the businesses.

Quite obviously, those who are ‘active’ in developing successful new businesses will reap much higher rewards than ‘passive’ investors.

An earlier post of mine suggested “A Better Alternative to GDI.” which outlined a multi-level payment structure for those who actively promote the business. This scenario involved a $10 per month membership fee which is the same as with GDI and the same as the cost of our memberships for people learning Indonesian or Russian.

Taking all these elements a step further, I think we now have the final piece to the puzzle. For a simple $20 investment, people can now join a website which will provide them with exactly what they need to learn English (or improve their English). They can remain ‘active learners’ and ‘passive investors’ if they wish, and they will eventually still get a very nice return on their $20. That’s what I described in detail in “What’s the best $20 investment?”.

But I’ve always insisted that I don’t want to be busy with marketing and advertising. I want members, who love the product, to tell others, and I’m more than happy to allocate a marketing budget to be paid to them. Thus, the solution.

By applying a similar multi-level payment structure for those who pay a one time membership fee of $20, anyone who introduces 5 new members, who then also introduce 5 new members, etc, will soon earn $1,585. That’s a heck of a return with almost no effort.

10% $2.00 x 5 $10.00
5% $1.00 x 5 $25.00
2% $0.40 x 5 $50.00
2% $0.40 x 5 $250.00
2% $0.40 x 5 $1,250.00
21% $1,585.00

Regardless of whether you believe it’s really likely to happen or not, the absolute downside is just $20. If this is a complete scam, you will have only lost $20. If I deliver on my promise, you will earn thousands of dollars.

And the growth will never stop. Why should it? We are committed to developing the best language learning material available anywhere. Members can also become employees; working as teachers, translators, programmers,  etc.

And as the membership grows travel agents, hotels, resorts, airlines, bars, restaurants, etc will all want to promote their products to our members and that income will all be paid back to the members.

Businesses and others spend a LOT of money on language training, and our members, as ‘owners’ will share in those profits.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. Let’s simply start getting people to take that first simple step of investing $20 to join our vision of the future.


Get Paid 20 Dollars to Learn a Language

It sometimes takes an incredibly long time to really nail down an idea into a complete and clear concept that can be put into action.

My ideas for teaching English (and other languages) online have really developed a lot recently, and many of the ‘missing pieces’ have been found. Until now, I’ve been waiting for a group of people to ‘kick-start’ the project by investing $20 each.

Yesterday (June 26, 2013), the final ‘missing pieces’ clicked into place. I finally came up with an idea and concept that allows me to begin promoting it on my own. To heck with waiting for others.

As with so many things in life, the answer has been there all along, and I essentially ‘knew it’, but for some reason I hadn’t ‘connected the dots’ to make it a complete concept.

I had already trimmed it down from $10 per month, to a simple $20, one time payment. As I told a group of people practicing their English at a Language Exchange Club meeting recently, there’s no point in me teaching English and getting paid $40 an hour. Why not get people to pay $20 each and teach a million or more people?

That helped them realize that $20 wasn’t actually incredibly cheap for them to learn English. They have each already spent hundreds of dollars to learn English with very poor results, yet to get them to commit to a ‘very cheap’ $20 investment is still not easy.

Now, I’m going to offer “Get paid $20 to learn English“. If I can’t get people to sign up with that offer, then the whole idea is completely dead with no future.

Here’s the concept.

I will offer 3 options for joining our website for learning English and other languages. All members will share in the income from AdSense, new memberships, etc, so for sure they will make a profit on their ‘investment’, in addition to gaining access to top quality language learning material.

Even though they will get ongoing income year after year, there still needs to be a way to get them to take that first step.

Option 1:

Pay $20, join, get full access and receive ‘member rewards’ (basically like a dividend; a share in the profits).

Option 2:

Click on my affiliate web-hosting link, and get a website of your choice for 2 years FREE. I switched to iPage this year and they have a promotion now for $1.99 per month with a free domain. Thus, a 2 year hosting plan currently costs $48. The affiliate payment is $105, so I will pay the person back their $48 and sign them up as a member to our language site for free, since they have effectively paid $20, and in fact paid me $57. We will then also help them get their website going and earning money, so that in 2 years time they will re-new the hosting. If not, that’s okay also. That’s the risk that iPage and other hosting companies are taking.

Option 3: 

Do the same as Option 2, only I’ll take the new domain and hosting (with a domain name of my choice), I’ll pay back their $48 plus give them an extra $20 and sign them up as a member to our language site for free, since they have again effectively paid $20, and in fact paid me $37.

It’s extremely simple, and the only requirement is a credit card to make the payment through. Many Ukrainians and Indonesians don’t have a credit card, so this will be a limitation, but it’s easy enough for them to get a card, so it’s not a big problem.

The website hosting / affiliate aspect is something I’ve known for years and used a few times before with PowWeb. I was never able to make money as an affiliate because I wasn’t promoting it and nobody ever clicked and bought from the links on my webpages.

Now, I can use it to help motivate people to take action, join our program and begin making money online while learning a new language or improving their English.

Such a concept should be appealing to anyone, anywhere, and in fact everyone, everywhere!!

Human nature is such that taking the first step can be difficult, but this makes it incredibly easy. It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks. 🙂

For those of you that have begun following my blog and clicking on the ‘Like’ button, you’re also most welcome to sign up and get either a free website or $20 cash.

For more information on our concepts you can read previous blog posts: What’s the best $20 investment? and A Better Alternative to GDI

To read more about our language learning project you can start here: ExpressWay Languages – A truly new approach to language learning

All the best, Brian

What’s the best $20 investment?

There are many ways to spend $20 but there are few options for ‘investing’ $20. If it’s two hundred or two thousand, then you have many investment options, but with twenty, you’re pretty much limited to spending it, leaving it in your wallet or putting it in the bank. None of those are really good investments.

Investing $20 will never make you rich, but it could be quite profitable. Buying a book on starting your own home business may be a good investment of $20, but then you’ll need to invest a lot more time and money in order to get a return on your investment.

Many people, however,  simply aren’t interested in starting their own business, doing any online marketing, or managing their investments by trading online. They have a job, buy things, go on vacations, invest in mutual funds and typically have an extra $20 that they could invest if presented with an interesting option.

Now consider investing 20 cents in apple seeds, planting them in your yard, waiting for the trees to grow, then harvesting delicious fresh apples year after year after year. Now that’s a great investment!

Like all entrepreneurs, I invested my time and money in my business with the hope that it would grow and provide money for me in the future. My websites for learning Indonesian and learning Russian have done exactly that, and continue to grow by over 50% per year. That’s great and I’m happy with that.

Next, I want to do websites for learning French, Spanish and Japanese, since I’m interested in learning those languages. Developing those sites will take a lot of time and a lot more than $20, but that’s fine, I want to do them.

Doing a website to help people learn English is also very much needed and our methods are tremendously effective, but I’m simply not (currently) willing to invest my time and money in such a website. I’d rather do the other websites.

Now, the value of $20 may be limited, but the value of $20 x 100 or $20 x 1000 is significant, and that’s the key to the puzzle. By getting 100 or 1000 people who want /need to learn English to invest $20, we could then begin building the website for learning English.

Then I’m very interested in working on the project because we’re not only building a website to help people learn English, but we’re “re-inventing the wheel”. We’re doing something that’s never been done before. We’re taking the concepts of ‘crowdfunding’ and combining it with ‘online investing’.

The rewards of that total investment are then shared amongst everyone who made the original investment. In many ways, it’s like a cooperative.

Not long ago I decided to offer a “Pre-production Audio Special” for people learning Indonesian. They would get 20 hours of audio for $20. Having people pay in advance gave us the motivation to go ahead with the project and once it’s done the audio package will be priced at $100. Thus, they got a super discount on the price by buying in advance, before we’d even started making it.

Such a concept is similar in film making. Investors put money in to a project and then share the profits (or losses; thus the risk of investing).

Many people pre-paid $10,000 for a new Tesla car before production was even ready and the company was expected to go bankrupt by many, many people. Well, it didn’t go bankrupt and this year shares have skyrocketed from $35 to $100. That was a nice investment.

My $20 investment concept is extremely simple. Without ‘start up capital’, the English website simply isn’t going to happen right away. We began talking about all this in 2010 and nothing has happened because nobody invested.

Anton is still busy teaching English to make money to pay rent. I’m still choosing to focus my time and energy elsewhere. And students all over Ukraine and the rest of the world are spending a ton of money and not learning English effectively.

It’s really high time that a group of people decide to invest $20 each and kickstart this project. The people who paid $20 for the Indonesian audio material were only getting a discount on the product. People who pay $20 for the English material, will not only be getting a discount on the material, but they will later be earning much more than $20, year after year after year. It’s exactly like the apple tree from investing 20 cents to buy seeds.

Unfortunately, the hurdle remains, that people simply can’t grasp the concept. People want things for free, and they can’t seem to understand that this is much, much better than free.

With a simple $20 investment, they will finally be able to learn English and they will have initiated a revenue stream that will pay them much more than $20, year after year for the rest of their life.

That, to me, is simply the very best $20 investment available anywhere.

A Better Alternative to GDI

Well, it’s now 5 years since I first heard of GDI and various ideas for making money online and for helping others make money online began tumbling around in my head.

Next week, June 3, I fly to Ukraine and have decided to kickstart the ‘big concept’ for learning languages and making money online.

I’ll start with a comparison to GDI since readers will then be able to immediately relate to my ideas.

We currently charge $10 per month for members learning Indonesian and Russian, and they are all more than happy with the product.  Thus, we have a definite product which people want, which GDI doesn’t have. Nobody would buy GDI hosting simply for the hosting and not the income potential. Our members pay for the product and there is no income potential for them.

Next, I’ve always disliked the concept of paying $1 for all of 5 levels. That’s 50% of the ‘product’ cost, which seems excessive. I think 30% is more than enough, thus devised the following model. (It assumes each person introduces 5 other people.)

10% $1.00 x 5 $5.00
5% $0.50 x 5 $12.50
5% $0.50 x 5 $62.50
5% $0.50 x 5 $312.50
5% $0.50 x 5 $1,562.50
30% $1,955.00

Simply by signing up 5 people and having each of them sign up 5 people, you can be earning a monthly income of $1,955.00.  That’s bloody good!! And it’s good for our business also since our total ‘marketing/advertising’ cost is 30% and our revenue increases significantly as the number of members increases.

We haven’t implemented this concept earlier because most westerners are immediately adverse to any hint of multi-level marketing. It has been patiently waiting for the time that we’re ready to develop a program for learning English.

Millions of people around the world ‘need’ to learn English. Learning English for people in developing countries is a sure ticket to a better job and higher income, not to mention the ability to communicate with the rest of the world.

Many of them can afford $10 per month, and in fact many already pay much more than that to learn English. Earning a return of $2000 on their $10 ‘investment’  would literally change their lives.

These are also the regions where people are most receptive to such marketing concepts. It’s really a perfect match. We help each other.

It’s easy enough to play around with the numbers of members introduced, but it’s already clear that it’s not difficult to generate substantial income.

Now let’s look at the reverse. As I said, most westerners hate even the idea of MLM. But, they could also use some extra income, and we do sometimes lose a member if they stop learning a language or lose their job, etc.

These people already recommend us to friends simply because they like our product. If even just 2 people then join, and so on for 5 levels, then their membership would be free and they’d be earning a small amount which they could keep or donate to a charity of their choice.

10% $1.00 x 2 $2.00
5% $0.50 x 2 $2.00
5% $0.50 x 2 $4.00
5% $0.50 x 2 $8.00
5% $0.50 x 2 $16.00
30% $32.00

The ‘dream’ of all companies is to have steady (and growing) cash flow. With a growing membership and no reason for existing members to ever quit, it’s really the ‘dream come true’.

The potential market is also everyone in the world. Why not? Everyone would benefit from learning a new language, and if the method is enjoyable and effective, why not?

We want to continue focusing on making our product better and better, and that’s why this marketing method is especially attractive. We don’t have to focus on promoting the business at all. We simply keep making the product better and better.

The next major revenue source is from advertising, which we will also share with all the members. After all, they’re the reason companies are paying to advertise.

Just imagine if all the members of Facebook and other such websites got to share in the revenue, instead of just getting the service for free.

That’s our concept. It’s better than free. You get the best product available AND you get to make money. And why not? I don’t need a billion dollars like Mark Zuckerburg.

So, I hereby invite all of you to get on board early. Even if you have no desire to learn a language, you may be interested in being a ‘salesperson’ for us. In that case, you don’t need to pay anything, simply sign up as a ‘sales affiliate’ and start spreading the word.

Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below and I can contact you via email from there.

All the best!!

PS. One very good market potential for people to learn a new language is seniors. It helps stimulate the mind and keep it healthy and it’s a great skill to have when travelling. Pimsleur and others have targeted this aspect but their programs really aren’t very good, especially for seniors. Here’s an example: Pimsleur advert for seniors.

ExpressWay Languages – A truly new approach to language learning

Hi everyone, I’d like to introduce you to our new language project:

ExpressWay Languages

Following on with our  success helping people learn Russian and learn Indonesian, we are forming a team to expand the program to include other languages.

If you’d like to join us in this new project, please leave a comment below and I’ll get in touch with you.

Stay tuned for more…

If you are interested in online marketing, affiliate marketing and other such things, then we could use you in our ‘sales department’, and you can read about our concepts here: A Better Alternative to GDI.

If you’re simply interested in getting a new language program at a big discount, and share in the growth of a cooperative venture, then have a read of “What’s the best $20 investment?

Cheers, Brian

Learn Russian – Your Very First Words – by

If you’re learning a new language, the first word to learn is simply ‘thank you’, so in Russian: спасибо, [spa’see’ba] [спа’си’бо].  If you’re listening to this as well as reading it, you will very quickly be able to read Russian phonetically.  Trust me, don’t waste time with the transliteration. And don’t waste time learning the alphabet first. After all, does learning A-B-C help you with the pronunciation for ‘through’ and ‘though’?

Most people want or believe they need to see the words written with the English alphabet (Roman alphabet), but you really don’t, and it will actually slow you down.  And you don’t really need an explanation of what sound each letter makes because you immediately make associations on your own.

With the word спасибо [spa’see’ba] (thank you), you immediately see that ‘c’ sounds like ‘s’, ‘п’ is a ‘p’ sound and ‘a’ is the same as it is in English. Learning the letters and sounds ‘bit by bit’ (word by word) is more effective than starting with the whole alphabet. Can you remember 26 new letters and sounds all in one go? No. So, start with one word and 6 letters.

Cпасибо [spa’see’ba] (thank you) is the perfect start for learning to understand, read and speak Russian.  When you see the letter ‘и’ [ee] you perhaps think it looks like a backwards capital ‘N’ and after hearing it several times you will automatically associate it with the sound ‘ee’.

Likewise with the letter ‘б’. It sounds and even looks a bit like the letter ‘b’ in English, or perhaps you think it looks like the number 6.  It doesn’t matter what association you make since you will very quickly be reading it phonetically without need for any associations.

Seeing the letters in capitals is also important since the shapes change, as they do with any alphabet.

А а  ;  Б б  ;  С с  ;  Д д …  ( A a  ;  B b  ;  C  c  ;  D d … )

So do you remember the word for ‘thank you’ in Russian?  Most people won’t, so you’re doing great if you do.  Cпасибо [spa’see’ba] (thank you).  ‘Spaced repetition’ is the best way to really learn a new word.  And when you learn this way, rather than by making associations or other ‘memory tricks’, you won’t forget the word, even years later.

This is ‘physical’ learning; like learning a sport or how to play a musical instrument.  You’re literally training your eyes, ears and mouth.

Now let’s take a look at the last letter in the word спасибо [spa’see’ba] [спа’си’бо].  It’s exactly the same as the ‘o’ in English, only, in the word спасибо, it makes an ‘a’ sound.  As in English, some letters make multiple sounds and instead of learning a long list of rules, it’s best to simply learn the word and its associated sound.  For example ‘chair’ and ‘choir’.  Do you know the rules for how to pronounce words in English?  So I think you’ll agree it’s best to skip the rules for now.

The letter ‘o’ in Russian makes either an ‘o’ sound, like in English, or an ‘a’ sound, and learning to use it properly is no harder than learning in English to match the letter ‘c’ with the ‘s’ sound or the ‘k’ sound.

What’s the Russian word for ‘thank you’?

Cпасибо.  Did you remember? And were you able to read it and pronounce it correctly without looking above? No problem if you had to ‘cheat’, most people will forget and a good language program recognizes this and provides an effective solution.

The second word to learn in any language is ‘hello’, ‘привет’ [pree’veeyet] [привет]. It almost sounds like there are three syllables, but it’s essentially only two.  Immediately you see that the ‘p’ in Russian, sounds like an ‘r’ but looks like a ‘p’ in English. Similarly, the ‘в’ looks like a capital ‘B’ but sounds like a ‘v’, and the Russian letter ‘т’ looks and sounds like ‘T’ in English.  Note that the Russian ‘r’ is rolled liked in Spanish and other languages.

I need to point out that the word ‘привет’ [pree’veeyet] [привет] is actually like ‘hi’ in English. It’s casual and used with friends.  The more polite form of ‘hello’ is ‘здравствуйте’ [strasvyite] but trying to tackle that word at this point is pretty challenging, so let’s stick with the simple form ‘привет’ for now.

When creating a program for learning a new language, it’s important to really understand the difficulties of a student and the simple facts of how our minds work. For example, when you turn the page, what you ‘learned’ on the previous page is typically ‘gone’.  Simply telling you and showing you once isn’t enough.  You need the ‘spaced repetition’ and physical practice of seeing, hearing and speaking.

You perhaps remember the Russian word for ‘thank you’, спасибо [spa’see’ba] [спа’си’бо].  And how about ‘hi’?  Привет! [pree’veeyet] [привет]

To create a dialogue or exercise to use these words many times, over and over, is essentially impossible.  That’s why the next best step when learning Russian, or any other language, is with a simple dialogue of What’s this? What’s that? : Что это? (shto eta)

You see again that the letter ‘o’ sounds like ‘o’ and ‘a’.  The letter ‘т’ is like ‘T’ in English. The new letter ‘ч’ looks like the number 4 and sounds like ‘sh’.  There are actually several Russian letters that have an ‘sh’ sound, so you need to focus on the sound carefully and learn to make the distinction.

With the word ‘что’ (what), make sure you get the ‘sh’ sound at the beginning: что [shto].

The next word, ‘это’ [eta] means ‘this’, ‘that’ or ‘it’. So literally, Что это? means ‘What that?’ / ‘What this?’ / ‘What it?’.

Here’s a sample of how the exercise works:

Что это? [shto eta] (What’s this/that?)
Что? [shto] (What?)
Это. [eta] (This/That.)
Это книга. [eta k’neega] (It’s a book.)

With the word for book, книга, it’s important to make the ‘k’ sound distinct and don’t say ‘knee’ and relate it to the English word.

The distinct ‘k’ sound is found in all Russian words, including ‘кто’ (who), and it’s not 2 syllables like ke-toe.  It’s said quickly ‘кто’ (k’toe). Practice makes perfect, so doing Lesson 1 gives you a solid foundation of these basic words.

Кто это? (Who’s this/that?)
Кто? (Who?)
Это. (This/That.)
Это Брад. (That’s Brad.)

Make sure you don’t say ‘eto’!! It’s an ‘a’ sound ‘это’ (eta).

Before reading further, you should try Lesson 1 which will help you continue to master the Russian alphabet and improve your listening and speaking abilities.  Really focus on making the ‘sounds’ as accurately as possible.  And remember that the ‘sound’ can change substantially when said quickly and naturally.  For example in English: “What do you want to do now?” (Waddya wanna do now?).  Focus on the sound!

Proceeding to Lessons 2, 3 and 4 is recommended and when teaching Russian, we typically cover all four lessons in the first ever lesson of 1 hour.  At that point you’ll feel like you’ve had a serious workout, and will also feel like you’ve learned a lot.  Now, let’s do a ‘warm down’ with a few other important words and ideas.

Another useful word when in a Russian speaking country is ‘можно’ [moe’zshna] (may). So if you want to sit down somewhere you could say: Можно? [mozshna] (May I?) and they would say: Пожалуйста. [pa’zshal’sta] (Go ahead./Please.), and you’d say: Спасибо. (Thanks.)

Now I hope you can see already the natural progression that can be made when learning a new language.  When an entire program is set up this way, slowly feeding you new words and expressions one by one, with a clear understanding of the ideas being expressed, then the learning progress is dramatically improved.

Using simple natural dialogues are an ideal way to learn, but it is vitally important that the dialogues are natural and simple, with a very limited vocabulary to begin with, and the idea being expressed must be clear and intuitive.  Building a strong foundation will yield much better long term results in a shorter time period.

Notice your first example of ‘intuitive learning’.  When you hear,
Что это?
your brain will automatically understand the words based on the context of the situation, especially if you see the actions in a video.

Similarly, if you use photos of well known people, it really helps learn the Russian alphabet quickly.

Кто это?  (Who’s this?)
Это Брэд Питт.  (That’s Brad Pitt.)

Ну да, [nu da], let’s carry on with some more words.  From this you’ve already intuitively understood that Ну да,.. means “So then,…” or “Anyway, …”.  Again, that’s what we mean by natural learning.  Actually, ну [nu] means ‘well’ (well, so, well then), and the dictionary definition really doesn’t help much.  It gives you the basic ‘hook’, or the first bit of understanding, but then, from seeing it used in situations where the idea is clearly understood, that’s when you truly begin to understand the word and how it’s used.

да [da] means ‘yes’, and нет [nee’yet] means ‘no’.  So why combine them as Ну да [nu da]? It doesn’t matter why.  All languages have lots of expressions that “don’t make any sense”, but they’re natural expressions so simply learn to use them.  Match the expression to the idea.

Now let’s try a little exercise and see how many words you remember:

thank you       =  ______________
hi                  =  ______________
what               =  ______________
who                =  ______________
this / that       =  ______________

It’s also useful to begin learning to write in Russian.  Again, the physical action helps lock it into your memory.  See the answers on the next page and don’t worry if you didn’t get them all.

If you got them all correct you’re really doing well.  If not, no problem, very soon you will have mastered them.

thank you       =  спасибо  [spa’see’ba]
hi                  =  привет [pree’vee’yet]
what               =  что [shto]
who                =  кто (k’toe)
this / that       =  это [eta]

And do you remember how to ask permission for something?

“May I?” _______________

And the reply:  “Please. Go ahead.”  ____________________

If you remembered them you’re doing really great.

May I?             =  Можно? [mozshna]
Go ahead.         =  Пожалуйста. [pa’shal’sta]

And how about the word for book? And ‘yes’ and ‘no’? And the expression “Anyway…” to carry on with a conversation, etc.  I can’t imagine anyone remembering the word for book since you only saw it once 2 pages back. But, that’s exactly what happens with many books and programs for learning languages. They tell you once and then never mention it again and assume it’s been learned.

book              =  книга [k’neega].
yes                  =  да [da]
no                    =  нет [nee’yet]
Anyway,..       =  Ну да, [nu da]

With our program, there’s no need to make a huge effort to memorize words.  Simply follow the program, step by step, and everything gets learned ‘naturally’ and ‘easily’.  It may not feel very ‘easy’ yet, but have faith and stick with it. J

‘Locking’  words into your memory is a simple function of how your brain works.  Short term memory has the capacity for about 7 things, so we’ve already exceeded that and you probably can’t remember all 11 Russian words already introduced.  No problem.  After seeing a word about 5 to 7 times with a gradually increased space such that you ‘almost forget’, then the word will have generally been ‘locked in’ and learned.  It’s a natural, physical occurrence that works for everyone.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s always important to focus on the idea being expressed by a word or expression.  For example it’s very common in Russian to say: Да нет. [da nee’yet] (Yes no.) which makes absolutely no sense in English but actually means ‘no’, but it’s different than simply saying ‘no’, нет.  It’s more like “of course not”, or you’d like it to be yes but it’s not, or it would be nice if was true but it’s not.

Another interesting expression you’ll hear when people didn’t quite hear what you said, is:

Что что? (What what?).  A German guy I met living inKiev adopted the English expression “What what?” instead of “Pardon?” (Pardon me?) (What was that?).

If you start using some of these basic words everyday, it will help make it all natural and easy. So don’t say ‘thank you’, say: Спасибо.

Here’s another good one to use everyday.
Okay.   =  Хорошо.  [ha’ra’sho]
And of course you can use it as a question also:  Хорошо(Okay?)

Let’s try a short dialogue now and notice again that it’s intentionally set up so that the idea is clear, thus helping students to intuitively learn vocabulary and grammar.

– Привет!
– Что это?
– Что?
– Это.
– А, это аи-под.
– Можно?
– Пожалуйста.
– Спасибо.

Could you understand all that?  Feels great to have made such progress already right?  And again, using recognizable English words and names helps you to learn the Russian alphabet more quickly.

You’ll often hear the Russian word ‘A,..’ at the beginning of sentences and it generally translates to ‘And’ or ‘But’ or ‘Oh’. There’s no need to translate it though. Simply get used to hearing it and using it.

When you’re really grateful for something, and want to say “Thanks a lot.” or “Thank you very much.”, in Russian you’d say:  Спасибо большое.  [spa’see’ba  bal’shoy], which literally means ‘thanks big’.

Here you see the Russian letter ‘ь’ which is called the ‘soft sound’ and has no actual sound.  There’s no need or benefit in explaining it further at this point, simply get used to seeing it and get used to using it when you write or type in Russian.

Do you remember the word for ‘okay’?  No problem if you don’t and well done if you do.  Let’s learn one more new word, then we’ll do a quick review. Хорошо?  [ha’ra’sho]

You’ll hear this word a lot in Russian: давай  [da’vai]  ( Come one. / Let’s go. / Go! )  It’s used in a variety of situations so there’s no specific translation in English.  That’s not a problem however, since you’ll quickly become comfortable with this word and use it a lot.

So, a quick review:

спасибо  [spa’see’ba] (thank you)
пожалуйста  [pa’zshal’sta] (please; you’re welcome)

большое  [bal’shoy]  (large, big)

привет  [pree’vee’yet] (hi)
здравствуйте  [sdras’vootya] (hello)

да  [da] (yes)
нет  [nee’yet] (no)

что  [shto] (what)
это  [eta] (this/that/it)
книга  [kneega] (book)
кто  [k’toe] (who)

можно [mozshna] (may, possible)

ну  [nu] (well, so, then)
a  [a] (and, but, oh)

хорошо [ha’ra’sho] (okay)
давай  [da’vai]  ( Come one. / Let’s go. / Go! )

You’re now well on your way to having mastered your first 16 Russian words, and you’ll hear them a lot.  Many people say that the most common 100 words make up 50-80% of a language.  It’s probably true, which means it’s vital to really know and understand these words well.

It’s also surprising and frustrating to sometimes see or hear an expression and know all the words but have no idea what it means.  Again, a good system will make sure you learn all these small details.  We’ve already learned a few expressions:

Ну да,..  [nu da],..  (Anyway, …)
Да нет.  [da nee’yet]  (Of course not.)
Что что?  [shot shto] (Pardon?)

Conversely, you might say something based on the pattern used in English but it may be strange or even wrong to say it that way in Russian.  And vice versa, Russians speaking English will make ‘strange’ expressions like ‘go in for sport’ instead of ‘play sports’.

That’s why you have to really get into the feel for using the language directly, without translating, and building up a solid foundation and building on it slowly will help achieve that goal.

Let’s see what words you remember, and don’t worry if you don’t remember them all, or even any. Simply continue following the program and no matter how bad you are at learning languages, you’ll soon discover that you’re making great progress.

Test yourself below by covering up the Russian words to the right, read the English, then say the Russian word before sliding the cover down to read the word in Russian.  And say the Russian word out loud again as you read it for extra ‘physical learning’!

(thank you)                                             спасибо [spa’see’ba]
(please; you’re welcome)                  пожалуйста [pa’shal’sta]

(large, big)                                               большое [bal’shoy]

(hi)                                                              привет [pree’vee’yet]
(hello)                                                        здравствуйте [sdras’vootya]

(yes)                                                           да [da]
(no)                                                             нет [nee’yet]

(what)                                                         что [shto]
(this/that/it)                                           это [eta]
(book)                                                        книга [kneega]
(who)                                                         кто  [k’toe]

(may, possible)                                      можно [mozshna]
(well, so, then)                                       ну  [nu]

(and, but, oh)                                          a  [a]

(okay)                                                         хорошо  [ha’ra’sho]
( Come one. / Let’s go. / Go! )           давай  [da’vai]

Are you reading the Russian words now without looking at the transliteration beside them?  It’s very important to read Russian and not transliterate because transliterations aren’t exact.  It’s impossible to show the small inflections and other variations.  For example in English, you can’t show the ‘th’ sound in any way except with ‘th’, and to make the sound you have to stick your tongue out and bite it slightly then pull it back in as you say it.

this, that, these is not dis, dat, dese or zis, zat, zese.

The Russian words for ‘you’ illustrate this situation.
ты  [tu’ee] (you) (casual, singular)
вы  [vu’ee] (you) (formal, plural)

They’re usually transliterated as ‘ty’ and ‘vy’ but it really doesn’t match the proper sound.

Similarly, when you hear a Russian speaker answer the phone and say: Аллo. (hello), you’ll recognize immediately that it’s been adapted from English, but there is a mysterious inflection that is very difficult to master yourself.  The spelling when written can vary, Але, Аллe, and it didn’t help me with getting the sound right.  Keep trying though and don’t be satisfied until you get it.

In English, there’s no distinction between ‘casual’, ‘formal’ and ‘plural’ “you”, so it takes some practice to do this naturally in Russian.  Similarly, to master the change in verb endings takes practice.  Once again, learning the rules is less important than practice to the point that it becomes ‘natural’ and ‘automatic’.

Here’s the Russian for the common phrase: “Do you know….?”

Ты знаешь…?  [tu’ee znai’yesh]
Вы< знаете…?  [vu’ee znai’yet’ye]

And since you probably won’t understand anything past these first two words, your easiest reply is simply: Я не знаю. [ya ne znai’you] (I don’t know.) And smile!! 🙂

As with English, or any language, common expressions are said quickly, so try to say it quickly by copying the sound you hear.  And often expressions get shortened:  Не знаю.  (Dunno.)

Try this next dialogue and see if you can read and understand it all.

Кто это?  (Who’s this?)
Это Брэд Питт.  (That’s Brad Pitt.)
Кто он?  (Who’s he?)
Кто он?! Ты не знаешь Брэда Питта?  (Who’s he?! You don’t know Brad Pitt?)
(Ты не знаешь кто Брэд Питт?)  (You don’t know who Brad Pitt is?)

The final sentence is fairly complicated in structure but because it was presented in a completely natural manner, you probably understood it completely, or at least vaguely, all on your own. You also get an insight into how endings change even for names in Russian.

Let’s finish learning the pronouns:
он [on] (he, it ‘masculine’)
она [ana] (she, it ‘feminine’)
оно [ano] (it ‘neuter)
они [anee] (they)

If you’ve gone through the lessons, you’ve already mastered these and discovered that rather than give the student all the pronouns at once, we prefer to focus on just three to begin with: он, она, оно, get them locked in, then continue with the others.  Step by step, developing the physical ability and making everything ‘automatic’.

Once again you can see, Russian isn’t 100% consistent with its phonetics, but trust me, English is infinitely worse, so consider yourself lucky not to be learning English.

Let’s do a quick review before introducing the new words.  Хорошо?  [ha’ra’sho] (Okay?)  We’ll give the Russian word first and you quickly check to see if you remember the meaning before it’s given, and make sure you repeat the word out loud in Russian, so you continue the ‘physical learning’.

As you begin working with the dialogues, you’ll discover that the traditional approach to language learning and vocabulary building isn’t necessary.  You’ll spend very little time with vocabulary lists or flash cards and such.  You’ll be learning intuitively and will simply ‘remember’ without even trying.  And when you try speaking, words and expressions will just ‘come out’ without any conscious thinking.

Ну да, here are the words we’ve covered so far:

спасибо, [spa’see’ba] (thank you)
пожалуйста [pa’shal’sta] (please; you’re welcome)

большое [bal’shoy]  (large, big)

привет [pree’vee’yet] (hi)
здравствуйте [sdras’vootya] (hello)
Аллo. (hello)

да [da] (yes)
нет [nee’yet] (no)

что [shto] (what)
кто [k’toe (who)

это [eta] (this/that/it)
книга [kneega] (book)

можно [mozshna] (may, possible)
ну  [nu] (well, so, then)
a  [a] (and, but, oh)

хорошо  [ha’ra’sho] (okay)
давай  [da’vai]  ( Come one. / Let’s go. / Go! )

And now the pronouns:

я [ya] (I, me)
ты [tu’ee] (you ‘casual’)
вы [vu’ee] (you ‘formal’ and plural)
мы [mu’ee] (we)

он [on] (he, it ‘masculine’)
она [ana] (she, it ‘feminine’)
оно [ano] (it ‘neuter)
они [anee] (they)

We introduced an extra new word, мы [mu’ee] (we), in order to give you the full list.  And you can see how the verb endings change with the verb ‘to know’, знать:

(я) знаю  [znai’you] (I know)
(ты) знаешь  [znai’yesh] (you know)
(он, она) знает [znai’yet] (he/she knows)

(мы) знаем [mu’ee zyai’yem] (we know)
(вы) знаете  [znai’yet’ye] (you know) (formal, plural)
(они) знают [znai’yoot] (they know)

Trying to memorize the changes, as with memorizing numbers and days of the week, etc, is a difficult task and quite unnecessary.  By simply progressing through all the various material and exercises, it will all become ‘second nature’. The learning process becomes much more effective and complete, and there’s much less risk of error when you try and speak Russian.

For example you need to instinctively use ты or вы in order to avoid a slip in real life because you’re busy trying to ‘remember’.

In Russian, the reply to a question is often simply the verb again, instead of saying ‘yes’.

– Знаешь?  (Знаете?)
– Знаю.

This can be really tricky since you will tend to reply with the same word they used, which is wrong since it’s the ‘you’ form.  Practice makes it automatic.

Quite a bit of Russian follows the same pattern as English, so that helps the learning process.  For example:

Кто он?  (Who’s he?)
Кто она?  (Who’s she?)
Кто они?  (Who are they?)

And perhaps you’ve noticed already that Russian doesn’t use the verb ‘to be’ like we do in English, even though it does exist and is used similarly in other situations.

And if you say: Кто вы?  (Who are you?), it’s a bit abrupt and rude as it is in English, and is used in exactly the same situations, like finding a stranger in your apartment, in which case you might be even more emphatic and say: Кто вы такой? The definition of такой [takoi] is ‘such’, which doesn’t help explain the meaning of the sentence at all, so don’t worry about the definition.  Focus on the idea being expressed, which is abundantly clear from the situation, and after seeing it several times you’ll be adding такой in exactly the right spots.

And if it’s a woman who you’re speaking to, then you need the feminine form: такая
Кто вы такая?

Similarly, with the expression Что это? (What’s this/that?), you can make it more emphatic by saying Что это такое?  (What the heck is this/that?)  And here, the neuter form is always used: такое

Let’s review some short dialogues and make sure you repeat out loud, so you continue training the muscles in your mouth.

Что это? [shto eta] (What’s this/that?)
Что? [shto] (What?)
Это. [eta] (This/That.)
Это книга. [eta kneega] (It’s a book.)

And this routine can be done with several other objects, in order to increase repetition, as is done in the lessons.

Что это? [shto eta] (What’s this/that?)
Это журнал. [eta zhoornal] (It’s a magazine.)

Что это? [shto eta] (What’s this/that?)
Это газета. [eta gazyeta] (It’s a newspaper.)

Что это такое? [shto eta takoiye] (What the heck is this?)

If you’re like me, you’ll have a tendency to mix up журнал and газета, or think of them both as newspaper since you’re making a word association that’s familiar to you.  And that’s why the physical practice is necessary to literally ‘hard-wire’ your brain with the right connections and associations.

Knowing that your ‘memory bucket’ can only hold 5 to 7 items, there’s no need to fill it up with a bunch of nouns.  What’s more important is to develop the ability to use the language, and whenever you don’t know the word for a certain object, you can just ask: Что это? (What’s this?).

And we intentionally chose the 3 objects: книга, журнал and газета so that it leads naturally into the next step in the learning process.  Что он делает? (What’s he doing?)  Он читает книгу. (He’s reading a book.)

You immediately recognize the word for ‘book’ and see that it’s changed slightly. No big deal, and no need for a long explanation.  Your brain registers it and thus you begin learning the grammar rules in a natural and progressive manner.

Что он делает? (What’s he doing?)
Он читает газету. (He’s reading the newspaper.)

Что он делает? (What’s he doing?)
Он читает журнал. (He’s reading the newspaper.)

книга becomes книгу [k’nee’goo]
газета becomes газету [ga’zeeyetoo], and
журнал stays the same: журнал

Clearly, if the last letter is -a, then it changes to -y.  Pretty simple, but understanding the rule and ‘remembering’ to follow it are two entirely different things.  Thus it’s again important to simply ‘make it automatic’.  Learn it physically, then you don’t have to ‘remember’ anything.  And to learn everything physically, you simply need to follow the program; like hiking a trail in the mountains, just stick to the trail and you’ll reach the summit.

And do you remember the other short dialogue?

Что это?
А, это аи-под.

And do you remember the formal way to say hello?  Здравствуйте.

Another handy expression to know is ‘Excuse me.’  Извините. [ee’zvee’nee’tya]

So if you come up to a park bench with someone sitting on it, and you want to sit there also, you could say:

Извините пожалуйста, можно? (Excuse me please, may I?)  And they’d likely reply: Пожалуйста.  And you’d say: Спасибо.

I hope you see now that language learning can be reasonably straight forward.  It’s still a lot of work and requires significant time and effort, but with a clear, systematic program that’s engaging and enjoyable, then the road to success is a lot less challenging.

To really help you get started learning your first words in Russian, I recommend you listen and read through Lessons 1 through 4 on our website: Learn Russian.

Basic Russian Grammar – Start here

If you try and learn Russian grammar from a traditional perspective with the tables, etc, it can seem incredibly confusing and a near impossible task to master.  However, if you take it step by step and learn to use it at the same time, then it’s really not that difficult.  It’s the same for people learning English.  The grammar is terribly confusing and if approached from the rules instead of the idea being expressed then they almost never get it right.

So, let’s get started, and this will probably be useful for Russian speakers learning English also.

The first point, especially for Russian speakers, is that Russian doesn’t use articles like ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’.  Easy for us, very difficult for them, and to avoid the mistake in English, you really have to make it ‘automatic’ through proper ‘physical training’.  More on that at our website.

Also, they sort of have an equivalent word for the verb ‘to be’ but it’s not used extensively like in English, and is more for future and past tense.

In our lesson one, which takes less than 10 minutes for a first time ever student, you learn the basics.

– Что это?         [What’s this/that?]

– Что?  (Где?)    [What? (Where?])

– Это.                [This./That.]

– Это книга.       [It’s a book.]

In Russian, and many languages, the response “What?” is often more commonly expressed as “Where?” or “Which?”.  In English it’s also common to say “What’s what?” which in Russian would be ‘where’ or ‘which’.

Russian also makes no distinction for ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘these’ and ‘those’ in the simple question “What’s this/that?” (What are these/those?), so it’s very easy to get started.  You later discover that they do make a distinction in other situations but for now, simply enjoy the fact that it’s super easy with just one word ‘это’.  Russian does however have a similar concept to ‘it’.

– Что это?         [What’s this/that?]

– Это книга.       [It’s a book.]

– Где она?         [Where is it?]

– Она здесь.     [It’s here.]

It’s pretty simple to recognize that Russian follows a similar pattern to English where we use ‘it’ after the object has been identified.  In English, we’d normally say “It’s a book.” but in Russian you still use ‘this’.

When this routine is repeated many times, and interchanged with ‘who’ (кто), then the grammar aspect becomes ‘automatic’ and you don’t have to think about it, which is the basic aim of our learning approach.

It’s also useful to limit the number of nouns to a minimum.  After all, in short term memory, there’s only room for 5 – 7 things, so keep the number small and learn to use them well.  We typically start with ‘book’ (книга), ‘magazine’ (газета), ‘newspaper’ (журнал), ‘letter’ (письмо), ‘house’ (дом), ‘apartment’ (квартира), and ‘apple’ (яблоко).  This group also introduces the concept of ‘masculine’, ‘feminine’ and ‘neuter’ nouns and gives some practice with them.

The second approach for learning these basics and the other ‘grammar’ form is “This/That is a ….” (Это …..) and “Is this/that a ….?” (Это ….?).  Pretty simple in Russian!!  The question is formed simply by the tone of voice which we also do in English, rising at the end to indicate a question.

Это книга.         (This is a book.)

Это дом.           (That’s a house.)

Это книга?        (Is this a book?)

Да, это книга.   (Yes, that’s a book.)

Это дом?          (Is that a house?)

Да, это дом.     (Yes, that’s a house.)

Pretty simple and English is more difficult to learn since there are more variations and the sounds are harder to make, particularly the …s th… but it’s an extremely important sound to learn since it’s so common.  (Is th…? / Does th..? / What’s th…? / Where’s th…?)

And the negative answer is also fairly simple to learn and understand, and simply needs some practice to make it ‘automatic’.

Это книга?        (Is this a book?)

Нет, это не книга, это журнал.

Russian begins to get difficult because the ending of words can change in a myriad of ways, but to begin with, when the root word gets changed, there’s no need for any explanation if the idea is clear.

– Кто это?          (Who’s this/that?)

– Это Брад.       (That’s Brad.)

– Где он.           (Where is he?)

– Он дома.        (He’s at home.)

After learning ‘house’ (дом), it’s pretty simple to understand ‘дома’ as ‘at home’, and there’s no need for any grammar explanation.  It says in the dictionary that it’s an adverb and the same word, дома, is used for three different cases (genitive singular, nominative plural, and accusative plural), but it doesn’t really matter what ‘rule’ or ‘term’ is applied, the idea is completely clear and it’s easily and quickly learned with no explanation at all.  Trying to explain too much too early simply creates confusion. Simply ‘get a feel for it’ to begin with.

And getting a ‘feel’ for what words are masculine, feminine and neuter is also accomplished easily with this exercise and then learning the ‘rules’ later is easier because you already have something to help it ‘stick’.  Taking time at the beginning to explain the rules is really a waste of time since it simply gets forgotten, and besides, it’s more important to build up your ‘reflexes’ and make things ‘instinctive’ right from the beginning.  The rules then play a supportive role when you’re not sure and have to think about it.

Similarly, learning when to use ‘и’ (and) and ‘a’ (and, but) becomes mostly instinctive after hearing it and using it many times in a variety of situations.

Это книга и это (тоже) книга.     (This is a book and this (also) a book.)

Брад и Мери дома.                   (Brad and Mary are at home.)

Это книга, а это журнал.           (This is a book and this is a magazine.)

“И” means that there is something in common, so if there is nothing in common and you use “и”, a Russian speaker will automatically begin trying to find what is in common.  So saying, “Это книга, и это журнал.” is completely wrong and will create immediate confusion.  It’s pretty simple to learn and it’s important to make it ‘automatic’, so you never make the mistake.

The same rule of ‘commonality’ applies when ‘and’ is used at the beginning of a sentence, but again, focusing on rules will result in errors, whereas as proper ‘training’ to make it ‘automatic’ will avoid errors.

Как дела?                                 (How are you?)

Хорошо! А ты? (А у тебя?)         (Good! And you?)

And here’s a little bit from the movie, “Beauty and the Beast”.

She’s so beautiful and I’m…

Well, look at me!

Она такая красивая, а я…

Посмотрите на меня!

And it definitely takes a while to come to terms with all the various forms of ‘me’ and it’s very important to first learn:  Я тоже. (Me too.)  And later learn: Мне тоже. (Me too.)

If you learn “Мне тоже.” first, then it’s very likely you’ll use it when you should use “Я тоже.” simply because you’ve made an ‘m’ connection to English and are thinking in English.

Plus, if you simply want to play the odds, “Я тоже.” is more common.  In a collection of film subtitles, it appeared 117 times versus 20 times for “Мне тоже.”  And, since you’re replying to something just said, you simply follow the pattern.  If they say, “мне нравится….” (I like…) then obviously you’d say “Мне тоже.”

But that’s all getting ahead of ourselves.  Rather than begin learning ‘me’ and its many variations, it’s simpler to continue with more practice with он, она, они and introduce the possessive pronouns.

Since they each have only one form, like English, they get learned quickly, and by sticking with just ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘they’ / ‘his’, ‘her’, ‘their’ (он, она, они / его, её, их) it’s kept to a manageable size and builds up confidence in the new student, and the ‘natural’ repetition, back and forth with other expressions allows it to ‘settle in’ and become thoroughly learned.

That’s another key element when learning a language, or anything for that matter.  ‘Deep’ learning.  And like learning basic skills in a sport or playing a musical instrument: practice makes perfect.  Just because you ‘know’ how doesn’t mean you’ll do it correctly, and you have to not only do it correctly, but smoothly, quickly and easily.  You won’t have time to think about it when you’re ‘playing’ for real.

It’s amazing how many Russian speakers make the mistake typing ‘you’ instead of ‘your’ and I finally realized that it’s again a physical problem, not a mental one.  They type ‘you’ with their right hand, then hit the space bar without getting the left hand into the picture.  They know the rule.  It’s very simple and in Russian ‘you’ changes to ‘your’ so it should be easy. It’s simply a matter of ‘physical training’.  And they probably don’t make the mistake when speaking.

When I was still a beginner, I could type the word ‘пожалуйста’ (you’re welcome) easily since I’d done it many times while making the lessons, but if you asked me to consciously spell it, I couldn’t.  My fingers simply ‘did it’.

And further along in your first 20 minutes ever of learning Russian, you learn:

Cейчас Брайан в Индонезии.

Он живёт там.

Он живёт в Индонезии.

А его отец, где он живёт?

Он живёт здесь.

Он живёт в Канаде.

And there’s no need for any explanation since you then hear and read:

Где сейчас Блайн?  (Сейчас Блайн где?)

Сейчас Блайн в школе.

Что это?

Это школа.

Pretty obvious that Канадa becomes Канаде, and школа becomes школe, when the idea is ‘in/at ..’, similar to ‘дом’ and ‘дома’.

Time spent explaining in English is time taken away from hearing and reading more examples that make it more and more ‘instinctive’ and ‘automatic’.

Russian speakers often make the mistake of when to use ‘in’ and ‘to’ since the pattern in English is different to the pattern in Russian.  Clearly, if you think in one language and try to speak (or write) in the other, you’ll easily make such mistakes, but if you learn them as a ‘pair’ and they become ‘second nature’ through the learning method, then you won’t make many/any mistakes.

Since we’re specifically talking about Russian grammar here, this is the ‘Prepositional Case’, or ‘Case 6’, but at this point, it’s completely irrelevant and not necessary to know.  Simply, when the idea is ‘in/at …’ and it’s ‘… в ….’ then the ending will change to ‘e’ if it was an ‘a’.  Simple.

And without slowing down since it’s all still clear for the student, another grammar point gets introduced with no explanation.

Кто это?

Это Блайн.

Он брат Брайана.

(Брайан его брат.)

Again, there’s no need for a complete explanation, and if you tried, most students’ brains would explode.  There’s a natural and immediate understanding and they’ve learned (been exposed to) all this in just 20 minutes.  Trying to explain it would simply stop the natural flow of learning and slow down the entire process.

Lesson 2 ends with more exposure to the basic elements that have already been introduced.

Где Стивeн и Дэвид?

Они в парке.

Где живут Анна Петровна и её муж, Иван Иванович?

Они живут в Москве.

Их дочь и сын тоже живут там.

Где они сейчас?

Сейчас они дома.

What’s needed later is a handy table or reference to quickly look up words and check the grammatical changes, but, like learning to type ‘пожалуйста’, if you go through the exercises and develop the proper reflexes, then you won’t need the reference table except for new words.

If we consider the grammar, then ‘possession’ (with nouns) uses the ‘Genitive Case’, or ‘Case 2’.  Does that make anything clearer?  Didn’t think so.

No worries, it will all become clear in time if we continue to take it step by step.

Lesson 3 introduces some new grammar aspects which again require no explanation.

Кто это?

Это Анна Петровна и Иван Иванович.

Где они?

Они дома.

Что делает Анна Петровна?

Она читает.

Что она читает?


Она читает книгу.

А её дочь, Нина?  Что она делает?

Она тоже читает.

Что читает Нина?

(Что она читает?)


Она читает письмо.

(Нина читает письмо.)

And what I should add now is the following example:

Где его письмо?

В книге.  (In the book.)

(Оно в книге.)  (It’s in the book.)

And note that it’s not “Это в книге.” which disagrees with the pattern for “Что это?” “Это письмо.” but it sort of makes sense when you think about it and remember the next part “Где оно?” “Оно в книге.”.

Now, the change from книга to книгу is also pretty simple to understand and begin using, without needing to know that it’s the ‘Accusative Case’, or ‘ Case 4’.

I hope you can see that by hearing, reading, saying and writing this basic material, the changes to the end of words like книга become second nature and you won’t even have to think about it.  Following this simple process with 4 nouns: книга, журнал, газета, письмо (book, magazine, newspaper, letter) lays a solid foundation for slowly adding new nouns and then later giving a summary of the rules (which have been intuitively learned already).

The hardest part for me was mixing up журнал and газета.  All the rest was easy.

When the idea is clear, the grammar is clear also, even if it’s not explained.

А Максим, что он делает сейчас?

Он не читает.

Он слушает музыку по радио.

You automatically ‘know’ that музыку changed from музыкa (like книга) and that радио stays the same (like письмо), and you’ve already learned one of the rules without ever being told: the –a ending changes to –y and the –o ending stays unchanged, and consonant endings like журнал also remain unchanged.

There’s no need for a table or explanation, simply practice it to make it automatic.  It’s easy to understand the English rule that ‘s’ gets added to verbs for third person singular, but without making it automatic through proper learning from the very beginning, even advanced students, and the entire country of Singapore, make this mistake.  Likewise with plurals and the question: How many books are on the table?  – One.  Simple practice from the very beginning lays the necessary foundation for all subsequent learning.

And doing 5 or 10 repetitive exercises in a row is also useless.  It’s too easy, and as soon as you go to the next exercise, the previous one is completely forgotten!  You need the ‘alternating’ aspect, back and forth, within a dialogue where the idea is clear.  It really is the only way.

And you slowly build on previous expressions:

Who’s this? Кто это?
That’s Blain. Это Блайн.
He’s Brian’s brother. Он брат Брайана.
(Brian is his brother.) (Брайан его брат.)
Where is he now? Где он сейчас?
Who? Brian or Blain? Кто?  Брайан или Блайн?
Blain. Блайн.
He’s at school now. Сейчас он в школе.
Is this is school? Это его школа?
Yes. Да.
What’s Blain doing now? Что Блайн сейчас делает?
He’s reading a book. Он читает книгу.

And simple pictures make it obvious, so you almost don’t need the equivalent English written to the left of the Russian text (but it’s nice to have).

Of course, with such a limited vocabulary and trying to get lots of repetition, the dialogue is a bit contrived but it’s still very useful.

And the repetition builds up the ‘habit’ of putting words in the most common order.  It’s true that word order in Russian is flexible but it does follow common patterns that are most natural depending on the idea being expressed and what is being emphasized.

If you ‘think’ in English you’ll likely say “Что Блайн делает сейчас?” (What’s Blain doing now?) which is okay, but not common.  It’s much more natural to say “Что Блайн сейчас делает?” (What’s Blain now doing?) and ‘thinking in mixed up English’ is also pointless.  Just get into the rhythm of Russian and follow the sound.  Stop thinking and just do, and you’ll be much better off.

Like perfecting your tennis or golf swing.  Just practice and stop thinking.

All of the above is finished in about half an hour of your first ever Russian lesson, and you’re feeling pretty good about it all, and you’ve covered a lot of ground.  Then, in Lesson 4, we introduce the remaining pronouns (I, you, we) (я, ты / вы, мы) and by the end of that you feel like you’ve had a pretty serious workout, but you feel good about what you’ve accomplished.

Привет, меня зовут Брайан.

Я живу в Индонезии.

There’s no need (or benefit) to explaining “меня зовут”, simply equate it to “my name is”.  Later it becomes completely clear when you learn the verb ‘зовут’ and you read about the following, taken from a Russian movie:

Хорошая собачка! Как звать?  (Nice dog! What’s his name? [How to call?])

Свистом!  (Whistle!)

Свист?! Оригинальное имя!  (Whistle?! That’s an original name!)

Да не имя это!  (No, that’s not his name!)

Молодой еще – имя не заслужил.  (He’s still young and doesn’t deserve a name.)

А подзывать надо свистом!  (To call him you need to whistle!)

A simplified version could be learned very early.  It’s funny and helps solidify the student’s understanding.

Remember that you learned earlier 3 possessive pronouns: его, её, их (his, her, their).  The next step is to learn 3 more; each a version of ‘my’.  Once you’ve had some practice with that, you get ‘your’ and ‘our’.  Step by step with no ‘overload’.

Что это?

Это мой дом.

Кто это?

Это мой папа.

(Это мой отец.)

А кто это?

Это моя мама.

(Это моя мать.)

Что это?

Это моя книга и моё письмо.

(Это моя книга, а это моё письмо.)

Кто это?

Это мой брат.

Где он?

Он в Канаде.

Он живёт там.

As always, the physical practice of listening, reading and speaking is the best way to lock it into your memory.  Then with a few exercises and typing/writing and the job’s done.  Like walking from ‘A’ to ‘B’, if you simply walk, following the ‘path’, you’ll get to ‘B’.  There’s no need to study a map if there’s a clear path to follow.

And note that everything that was learned in Lessons 1 through 3 is being repeated again and again but in a natural way, and with a few extra points slowly added.

Кто это?

Это Стивeн и Мери Джонс.

Где они сейчас?

Стивeн и его семья дома.

Что они делают?

Мeри и её дочь, Джули, читают.

Мeри читает журнал, a Джули читает книгу.  ( incorrect to use и. )

А Дэвид….. он тоже читает?

Нет.  Он не читает.

Он слушает музыку по радио.

А Стивeн, что он делает?

Он работает.

It’s sometimes useful to point out and emphasize certain aspects, especially when it can be a common mistake if you ‘think in English’ and don’t follow the pattern that’s been introduced already.  A full explanation is still not needed (or beneficial).  Simply remembering not to use ‘и’ if there’s nothing in common, and more importantly, just building up your reflexes, is the best approach.

So, in one hour, reading through lessons 1-4, the student has learned a lot of Russian for his/her first time ever learning Russian.

Typically during the second lesson (second hour), we start again with Lesson 2; listening, reading and repeating (out loud) and then work up to Lesson 5.

Some books and programs teach “Что это такое?” (What is this?) but we save it for later since it’s an extra word that isn’t needed and simply adds an element of confusion.  The definition is “such, as” (pronoun) which clearly doesn’t fit logically within a new student’s understanding.

And notice that we equate it to “What is this?” and not “What’s this?”. There is a subtle difference in English and we emphasis the word ‘is’ when we say it, which adds an element of surprise or curiosity.  It’s a bit like saying “What the heck is this?”.

And later you also learn that “Что такое?” (What is it?) is most commonly used, as it is in English, for “What’s the matter?” / “What’s wrong?”.

As always, when these concepts are introduced in a natural manner within a dialogue with a clear idea, then there’s very little explanation needed, if any.

Stay tuned as I continue this little exercise to learn Russian grammar, and if you want lots more material to help you learn Russian or learn English, then come visit our website at

Пока!!  🙂

Basic Russian Grammar

Okay, I’m finally going to try and tackle the problem of Russian Grammar. Wish me luck!!

Actually, I don’t think it needs to be tremendously difficult if you don’t try and tackle the myriad of tables and forms. It’s incredibly confusing, so what’s needed is a step by step approach that builds up a solid understanding of various fundamentals with a minimum vocabulary and then continues to slowly build on that.

Of course, it still takes significant time and effort, but I suspect this approach will be a lot less painful for most people.

Have a look at what I’ve put together so far at my website to learn Russian.

Basic Russian Grammar

Here’s a few examples that I’ve asked some friends to check for mistakes and correct them. (I’ve highlighted mistakes in red, and ‘sort of’ mistakes in blue.)

I’m a student. Я – студент.
He’s a student. Он – студент.
She’s also a student. Она тоже студентка.
We’re students. Мы – студенты.
We’re all students. Мы все студенты.
What are they talking about? О чём они разговорят?
Who are they talking about? О ком они разговорят?
They’re talking about a student. Они разговорят о студенте.
Which student? Какой студент?
They’re talking about a student. Они разговорят о студентка.
Which student? Какая студентка?
They’re talking about the students. Они разговорят о студенты.
They’re talking about some students. ”  “
What were you talking with her about? О чём ты с ней говорила?
What are you thinking about now? О чём ты сейчас думаешь?
About my students. О моих студентах.
About one of my students. Об одном из моих студентов.
About my son. О моём сыне.
About my daughter. О моей дочери.

Here are the corrections and suggestions from my friend.

So, you’ve started to dig in to the most complex part of the Russian language. I guess that most people probably give up exactly here 🙂

These tables look absolutely crazy and even for me they look scary, because it’s a rather strange way of looking at the language ( like looking at the working heart – you know that it’s there, you use it for years, but looking at it – is very weird).

A more natural way is to understand that nouns in Russian can be divided into several groups and inside one group they are changed in the same way.



Whom are talking with? – C кем ты разговариваешь?

With my brother. – C братом.
With a friend. – C другом.
With my boss. – C начальником.

With my sister. – C сестрой.
With my friend. – C подругой.
With my boss. – С начальницей.

It is relatively easy to understand what group a word belongs to.
– машина
– картина
– проблема
Most of them end with “a”, so that’s easy.
– поле
– озеро
– море
Neutral end with “е” or “о”.
– рынок
– сигнал
Male are ending with a consonant.

So first of all you need to quickly understand what group a word belongs to.
Then practice all groups separately and I hope that after some time, you will feel what are the possible endings in each group.

Here is the full list of corrections to your examples below.

What are they talking about? О чём они разговорят?
Who are they talking about? О ком они разговорят?

There are two similar words:
– разговаривать (to talk)
– разговорить (to make someone talking, for example if someone doesn’t want to talk at all or about something)

So the correct sentences in Russian are:
– Кого они хотят разговорить?
– О чем они разговаривают?
– О ком они разговаривают?

Maybe you have noticed that there are two other similar words in Russian:
– говорить (to talk) – one is speaking, others are listening
– разговаривать (to talk) – several people are talking to each other, the roles are exchanged  all the time.

They’re talking about a student. Они разговорят о студенте.

They’re talking about a student. Они разговорят о студентка
– Они разговаривают о студенте.
– Они разговаривают о студентке. 

Which student? Какой студент?

In general it’s OK, but I guess that this was a conversation:

– They are talking about a student. Which student?
Then in Russian it would be:
– Он разговаривают о студенте. О каком студенте?

They’re talking about the students. Они разговорят о студенты.

There is no way to directly translate “the”, because in this case I guess “the” is also meaningless in English, because you don’t know “which” students 🙂
They’re talking about the students. Они разговаривают о студентах.

They’re talking about the students. Они разговорят о студенты.
They’re talking about some students.   ”  “

They’re talking about the students. Они разговаривают о (тех) студентах. (The one who is speaking knows which students they are talking about)
They’re talking about some students. Они разговаривают о каких-то студентах. (The one who is speaking doesn’t know which students they are talking about)

About my daughter.  О моей дочи.

There is no such word as “дочи” (though some people can use them, but in Russian it’s allowed to play with words with those whom you know very well, like with your family).
About my daughter. О дочери (but this is too official). О дочке.
I hope, this helps.
Good luck,

Obviously, that helps a lot!!!  Next I’ll try some more samples to unravel this mystery. 🙂

Until then, come visit our website to learn Russian.

Learn Russian – Word by Word : 0-50

The first word you need to learn in any language is “thank you”.  Then “hi” and “hello” are handy. The standard layout for phrasebooks is really quite useless since they don’t teach you any of the fundamentals of a language. The question “Where’s the ….?” is equally useful whether you’re at the bank, the restaurant or the post office.

What you need to do is simply begin learning basic words and concepts and build on them until you have enough to get around regardless of where you’re at. And, you need to be able to understand their answer!!

Here’s a sample bit from a Google docs that I’ve started for learning Russian and other languages – word by word:

Let’s take a new approach to language learning, and really understand, word by word, how to express ideas clearly and naturally in the language you’re trying to learn. The first word you need to learn is simply “thank you”.

thank you terima kasih спасибо merci
Thank you very much. Terima kasih banyak. Спасибо большое. Merci beaucoup.
Thanks. ‘ma kasih Спасибо. Merci.
Thanks a lot. Terima kasih banyak. Спасибо большое. Merci beaucoup.

Google and other translation software have a difficult time getting the correct match of expressions. They used to be much worse, giving ‘large thanks’ for ‘большое спасибо’. And by the way, which is more common: ‘большое спасибо’ or ‘спасибо большое’? From my sampling of Russian movies, ‘спасибо большое’ is more common (17 vs 7) but in my sampling of English movies (Russian subs) the ratio is exactly the opposite! (4 vs 17). So, which is most common? Time to ask my Russian speaking friends. 🙂

You can view the entire document here: Language learning – word by word, and you can also add comments, ask questions and contribute with your own native language.

In the meantime, let’s have a look at some other approaches for learning basic Russian. For a whole range of material to learn Russian, come visit our website:

If you want to learn Russian completely, including reading and writing, then the best way to get started is simply with “What’s this? / What’s that?”.  Here’s an example:

And from Lesson 1 which takes less than 5 minutes, simply carry on with lesson 2.

You’ve now had a really good introduction to about 20 key words and even if this is your first time ever learning Russian, you probably feel pretty comfortable with them. Of course, it’s important to also have the audio for the lesson, and you can get that from our website with lots of material to help you learn Russian.

Now, let’s go straight into Russian Lesson 3:

I’ll finish converting Lesson 4 to Slideshare and post it maybe tomorrow.

Пока!! (Ciao!!)

Learn Russian and English – Word focus: know

I recently asked a Russian friend to help me with a ‘simple’ question, and his reply left me with even more questions.  It’s fairly basic Russian, but again, understanding the idea being expressed can often be difficult.

Here’s the simple dialogue I was trying to write:

Кто это? (Who’s this?)

Это Брад Питт. (That’s Brad Pitt.)

Кто он? (Who’s he?)

Кто он? Ты не знаешь Брад Питт? (Who’s he? You don’t know Brad Pitt?)

Ты не знаешь…… (You don’t know who Brad Pitt is?)

I didn’t know how to write the second sentence, and I later realized I’d made a mistake in the first sentence.  In English, the idea is essentially the same.  He replied as follows:

По-русски эту фразу можно сказать по-разному:
In Russian this phrase is possible to tell differently:  (It’s possible to say this phrase in several ways.)

Вариант 1. Ты знаешь Брэда Питта? Кто он такой?
Вариант 2. Ты знал Брэда Питта? Кто он был такой?
Вариант 3. Ты не знаешь, кто такой Брэд Питт?

В первом варианте есть предположение, что этот Брэд Питт может быть
личным знакомым собеседника в настоящем времени.
Так нельзя спрашивать, если заранее известно, что это исключено.

Во втором варианте есть предположение, что этот Брэд Питт мог быть
личным знакомым собеседника в прошлом. (Так обычно спрашивают о людях,
которые уже умерли.)
Так нельзя спрашивать, если заранее известно, что это исключено.

В третьем варианте вы зотите узнать, что известно Вашему собеседнику о
человеке по имени Брэд Питт. Это наиболее универсальный вариант. Он
подойдет для любого случая.

Google translates this as:

In Russian this phrase can be said in different ways:

Option 1. You know Brad Pitt? Who is he?
Option 2. Did you know Brad Pitt? Who was that?
Option 3. You do not know who this Brad Pitt?

The first option is the assumption that this could be Brad Pitt acquaintances of the interlocutor in the present tense. That’s not asking if it is known that it is excluded.

The second option is the assumption that this Brad Pitt could be acquaintances of the interlocutor in the past. (This is usually asked about people who have already died.) That’s not asking if it is known that it is excluded.

In the third variant zotite you know that you know the person on a man named Brad Pitt. This is the most versatile option. He suitable for any occasion.

Here’s how I would translate each variant, and I don’t think any other them is the one I was looking for.

Вариант 1. Ты знаешь Брэда Питта? Кто он такой?  Do you know Brad Pitt? Who is he? (and you have no idea who he is)
Вариант 2. Ты знал Брэда Питта? Кто он был такой?  Did you know Brad Pitt? Who was he? (and now ‘know’ means ‘knew personally’ and he’s dead)
Вариант 3. Ты не знаешь, кто такой Брэд Питт?  Do you know who (this) Brad Pitt is? (and you’re rather perplexed)

Now, Brad Pitt is a famous person, so the question is one of surprise because the other person has never heard of him.

Here’s a sampling of phrases from various movies with ‘know who’.  There were quite a few from the movie, The Bourne Identity.

I wanna know who saved my life. Я хотел бы знать, кто спас мою жизнь.
Mary, I wanna know who I am now. Мэри, я хочу знать, кто я такой.
Do you know who that little wife will be? И знаешь, кто будет моею женой?
It’s okay.  I know who you’re talking about. Да нормально всё.  Я слышу о чём вы тут говорите.
{Bourne} Do you know who I am? Вы знаете, кто я?
I do not know who I am. Я не знаю, кто я.
Tell me who I am. Скажите, кто я?
If you know who I am… please stop messing around……and tell me. Если Bы знаете, кто я – прошу Bас, .. не юлите, скажите мне.
I don’t know who you saw last week. Я не знаю, кто с Вами беседовал.
I don’t know who I am. I don’t know where I’m going. None of it. Я не знаю – кто я? Что меня ждёт? Куда ехать? Hичего.
What, like, like, amnesia? Что это – амнезия?
I don’t know who this guy was! Не знаю, кто на нас напал, ..
I don’t even know who I’m hiding from. Вот я скрываюсь от кого?
I don’t wanna know who I am anymore. Больше не хочу знать, кто я такой.
You’d know who was sick at the time.. who wasn’t. Вы знаете, у кого бывают расстройства, а у кого – нет.
You know who I think really did it? Знаете, кто, по-моему, виноват?
Now you know who to call first. Теперь ты знаешь кому первому звонить.
Do you know who I am? Ты знаешь, кто я?
I won’t sign it, and he won’t know who sent it. Я не подпишу её и он не узнает, кто её отправил.
You know who he is, don’t you? Вы знаете, кто он, не так ли?
Starling!  Starling, we know who he is, and where he is. Старлинг!  Мы знаем, кто он, и где находится!
I wanna know who saved my life. Я хотел бы знать, кто спас мою жизнь.
Mary, I wanna know who I am now. Мэри, я хочу знать, кто я такой.

Lots of great examples, and do we now know how to say:  You don’t know who Brad Pitt is?

I think it’s perhaps the 3rd variant actually, which can be translated in 2 different ways, or used in place of at least 2 distinct English ideas.  Ты не знаешь, кто Брэд Питт?  And does the meaning change when you add такой?

Interesting how many examples you can get from movies, eh?  I’ll be doing more of these, so come around often. 🙂  Пока!!