Archive for the ‘learn foreign language’ Category

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?

Книгу.

Она читает книгу.

А её дочь, Нина?  Что она делает?

Она тоже читает.

Что читает Нина?

(Что она читает?)

Письмо.

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 eLearnRussian.com

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.

Female:
Сестра
Подруга
Начальница

Male:
Брат
Друг
Начальник

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.
Female:
– машина
– картина
– проблема
Most of them end with “a”, so that’s easy.
Neutral:
– поле
– озеро
– море
Neutral end with “е” or “о”.
Male:
– 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,
Diana

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: elearnrussian.com

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!!

A Driver for Vera (Водитель для Веры) – Part 2/11

If you haven’t watched part 1, best to go there first: A Driver for Vera – Review and Discussion

Now, let’s continue our chat, focusing on part 2.

When Victor sees her pull a mickey out of her purse and take a drink, he’s clearly upset, maybe disappointed, maybe feels some sympathy for her, but probably nothing more than seeing a nice looking girl pull out a cigarette and start smoking, and you don’t like girls who smoke.

She very quickly establishes her character as a ‘bitch’, which he brushes off easily and casually. He’s far too easy going and content and happy to let much of anything bother him.  When she tells him, “Closer.”, he neatly pulls up to within an inch of the wheelbarrow, showing that he’s a good driver and confident in his abilities and perhaps a bit cocky.

Tough to stay exactly what he thinks and feels when he sees her walk to the house.  In the KinoKultura review he says: “All the more striking is the expression of surprise and disgust that appears on his face at the sight of Vera’s physical disability.  A crippling childhood illness has left Vera severely lame, able to walk only with great difficulty.  For young Viktor, and one might suspect for Pavel Chukhrai, beauty and its opposite are not simply surface attributes of the physical world.  They go to the core of human existence and inform our attitudes towards politics and morality, or, in this case, towards Russia and the contemporary course of Russian cinema.

I don’t think it was so much ‘disgust’ as surprise, along with a little “oh, gross”. It’s a natural reaction for everyone if they see something physically surprising and unattractive. Most people then get over the initial shock/surprise and then look past that to see the real person. I think most people, or at least I like to think most people look past physical appearances and see things as they really are.  Appearances are unfortunately very important in all societies.

Lida is still fully in her role of being the flirt. If you don’t believe it’s realistic, then you haven’t travelled to Ukraine, Indonesia, Hong Kong and other places.  It’s totally realistic.

Sure, Victor is then eavesdropping, but only because he was given a lamp to fix and he moves into the light to see what he’s doing.  He then leaves because he clearly feels uncomfortable listening in on their conversation.

The characters of Vera and the General, and their relationship with each other, then gets developed nicely. He clearly cares for his daughter, and you guess that he’s a single parent doing the best he can. He’s very traditional in his values and morals, naturally, but you sense that he’s fair and caring.  She’s the rebellious, angry daughter.

She then goes to her room feeling all the range of emotions that any girl would feel in her situation, and unplanned pregnancy is an all too common problem. Of course she’s not going to stab herself with the scissors, but she wants to, as most would, and many do go for the ‘back alley abortions’.

From Victor’s expression as they’re about to leave, you can clearly see the concern and interest he feels. He’s already seeing past the ‘bad things’, understanding where they’re coming from. His interest in her is renewed. He liked her from the moment he saw her, hit a little bump in the road, and is now back to his original feelings, and more.

In the car, chatting with the General, Victor replies that he plans to go to the Army Academy for top officers. That’s been his plan and ambition since long before he met the General and was transferred to work for him. Thus any future claims that he uses the situation for his own personal gain, aspiring to be an officer, are pretty hard to substantiate.   And he’s totally relaxed, cheerful and confident about everything. He’s certain that with time and hard work everything will work out.

You quickly get a feeling for who that bad guy is going to be when the General’s assistant asks Victor to report on everything that happens; what they say and do; including the General.  He’s not keen to do it, but he’s in no position to refuse.

In the scene with Vera and Lida, you get a quick sense that there’s already plenty of animosity between the two. Lida undoubtedly wishes she could be the daughter and not the maid.  She wants the finer things in life, naturally.

In the car, Victor is cheerful as always. No signs yet that he’s anything but a nice guy. And I never did find any signs to contradict that viewpoint. So for everyone who thinks otherwise, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

For more material to help you learn Russian (and learn English for Russian speakers) come visit our website: Learn Russian

A Driver for Vera (Водитель для Веры) – Watch Video and Discuss – Review

A Driver for Vera  (Водитель для Веры) is a great Russian movie that’s thoroughly enjoyable to watch. The great scenery of the Crimea is beautiful, and along with nice music and an enjoyable story it’s a film that can be watched and enjoyed many times over.  Enjoy it now, with Russian and English subtitles. It’s a great film to help you learn Russian.

I came across 2 other reviews, which really made me want to add my 2 cents, and by creating a post here, everyone else can add their opinions and comments also.  I’m also using it to learn Russian, so with this and other posts with the other parts of the video, I’ll be asking questions and I hope some of you can help me out.  I’ll also make comments and corrections of the English subtitles to help those of you learning English.  Sound good?

If you want to read the other reviews, you can see them here at KinoKultura and Russia Blog.

The film opens in Moscow, 1962, on a sunny summer day.  A young army sergeant is getting photos taken with his car, which is clearly his pride and joy.  You soon discover, if you didn’t realize immediately, that it’s not his own car, he’s simply a driver, but he treats it with all the attention of a young man with his first new car.  You also immediately get the feeling for his enthusiasm and optimism about life, and his complete enjoyment with simple things.  It’s a very refreshing outlook to have.

His name is Victor, and by coincidence he is chosen to be transferred to work for a General in the Crimea.  The one review (KinoKultura) then says: “Yet it quickly turns out that his primary function is to be the servant, supervisor, spy, and potential suitor of the General’s headstrong and prickly daughter, Vera.

Now I completely disagree with that.  As you can see in this part of the film, he was chosen completely by coincidence.  It was a spur of the moment choice while the General was looking for a reason for coming to Moscow.  How can there be a ‘premeditated’ or ‘ulterior’ motive for something that was entirely a spontaneous and simple decision?

He gets ‘recruited’ by the villain, the General’s ‘right hand man’ who’s actually working for the KGB.  Victor doesn’t feel comfortable with his request but since he’s new and of low rank, he agrees to write down everything he sees and hears.  There’s a pretty big difference between that and actually spying on someone.

There was also no intent for him to become a “potential suitor” of the General’s daughter, Vera.  He was simply being employed as a driver and when he picks her up and sees her for the first time, yeah, he thinks she’s very attractive, but so would most guys.  Nothing more, nothing less.  And he certainly never got any sudden ideas that she could be his ticket to a better life.

I had a great discussion with some friends in Ukraine regarding the main character, Victor, whether he was ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (opportunist, social climber, etc).  I absolutely insist he’s a good guy throughout, but feel free to argue against me.

Also in the KinoKultura review: “The most serious critiques of the film have focused upon the degree to which the film’s characters lack in psychological verisimilitude.  Viktor seems too innocent, too upright, and too morally pure.  Savel’ev is too evil and Lida too outrageously sexual.

I’m a native English speaker and I had to look up the word ‘verisimilitude’. (verisimilar : probable, realistic)  Hey, it’s a movie! I thought the characters were pretty realistic except for the villain, who wasn’t so much “too evil” as a bit corny.  By western standards Lida was certainly “too outrageously sexual”, but if you visit Ukraine, you’ll see many such beautiful, confident women who aren’t shy.

I loved the scene when they meet and she checks him out and he does the same to her.  Totally real and honest.  It doesn’t happen in the west, sure. Men (usually) try to be discreet and women don’t want men to look (but do they really?), and western women look also but they’re really good at not getting caught.

It’s definitely not ‘love at first sight’ between them but there’s naturally a physical attraction.  When he sees Vera for the first time, there is a spark for him.  Hey, every guy has particular tastes in women, and Vera caught Victor’s eye, not Lida.

In the car, driving Vera home, you get another glimpse into Victor’s character.  He’s almost too good to be true with his high standards and morals, but I believe there are lots of guys like that, and I certainly identify with him.

I’ll continue this on my next post with the second part of the video.  Now let’s have a look at some of the expressions.

For more material to help you learn Russian (and learn English for Russian speakers) come visit our website: Learn Russian

A Driver for Very (Водитель для Веры)

Changeling – Great movie and Learn English and Russian

Hi, just finished watching the movie, Changeling, with Angelina Jolie.  Great movie! And an amazing story. Pretty frightening the corruption that has and does exist.  And it emphasizes the need for individuals to have the courage and the strength to fight against it.

Here’s a look at the trailer and then I want to chat about many of the simple phrases I picked up from the Russian subtitles.

The entire first scene is fairly manageable for a beginner to intermediate learner.

Walter, honey. Уолтер, дорогой.
Time to wake up. Пора вставать.
Just 10 more minutes. Ну еще 10 минуточек.
Oh, I’m sorry, sport. You can sleep in tomorrow. О.. Прости, малыш. Ты можешь отоспаться завтра.
That’s what Saturdays are for. Для этого и существуют субботы.
Up against the wall. Вставай к стене.
Come, come, come. Сюда, сюда, сюда.
All right. Хорошо.
Got it. Got it. Look, look! Вот.. Вот.. Смотри, смотри!
All right, sit down. Хорошо, садись.
Your breakfast is getting cold. Твой завтрак остывает.
It’s cereal. Это хлопья.
It’s supposed to be cold. Они должны быть холодными.

Straight away you can see why Russian speakers use the expression ‘stand up’, where we say ‘get up’.  And it gets used twice, so nice for comparison.

Movies are great for seeing how phrases are used and developing a better understanding of them.  For example:

It’s time…. = Пора…

Time to wake up. Пора вставать.
Walter, it’s time to come in, honey. Уолтер, пора домой, милый.
But I think it’s time for you to move on and start over for yourself. Но я считаю, что вам пора двигаться дальше и начать жить для себя.
We should go, ma’am. Нам пора, мэм.

And movies are proof that we don’t speak English ‘properly’.

Here’s your books. Вот твои книги.

This is a very common ‘mistake’, so much so that in spoken language, I wouldn’t call it a mistake. It’s what people say, so it is the language, regardless of what the rules say.

Similarly, words at the beginning of a sentence are often dropped when speaking casually.

Well, what is he doing? Ну, что он делает?
Oh, my… Боже мо..
Everything all right? Все в порядке?

It’s ‘okay’ to drop words, or say “Where’s my keys?”, when you’re simply speaking quickly and being lazy, or ’rounding the corners’.  Of course it should be “Is everything all right?”, and it is there, sort of, in thought.

And notice that he says: what is he doing, and not “what’s he doing?”. There is a difference.  It’s a difference of emphasis and it will come naturally over time if you’re learning English (and have good examples to follow!).

A lot of the movie is way too difficult for me and other beginners, but sections of it are great, and are just a bit above my ability. With a little help with some of the vocab and having both languages side by side, I can manage to understand it all.

Hey, sport. Привет, малыш.
Hey, Mom. Привет, мам.
How was school? Как в школе?
Okay. Хорошо.
Yeah? Да?
We learned about dinosaurs. Мы проходили динозавров.
And I got in a fight with Billy Mankowski. И я подрался с Билли Манковски.
What happened? Что произошло?
He hit me. Он ударил меня.
Did you hit him back? Ты ударил его в ответ?
(he nods yes)
Good. Молодец.
Rule number one, remember? Правило номер один, помнишь?
Never start a fight, always finish it. Никогда не начинай драку, всегда заканчивай ее.
Why’d he hit you? Почему он тебя ударил?
Because I hit him. Потому что я ударил его.
You hit him first? Ты ударил его первым?
Why? Почему?
He said my dad ran off because he didn’t like me. Он сказал, что папа сбежал, потому что не любил меня.
Honey, your father never met you, so how could he not like you? Дорогой, твой отец никогда тебя не видел. Так как он может не любить тебя?
Then why did he leave? Тогда почему он ушел?
Well, because the day you were born, something else arrived in the mail. Ну, потому что в день, когда ты родился, кое-что другое прибыло по почте.
And it was in a box a little bit bigger than you. И это была коробка, чуть большая, чем ты.
You know what was in it? Знаешь, что там было?
Something called responsibility. Кое что, под названием ответственность.
And to some people, responsibility is the scariest thing in the world. А для некоторых людей ответственность – самая страшная вещь в мире.
So, he ran away because he was scared of what was in that box? Значит, он сбежал, потому что боялся того, что было в той коробке?
Uh-huh. ..
That’s just dumb. Это просто глупо.
That’s exactly what I thought. Это в точности мое мнение.

Short phone calls, and even one sided phone calls for really simple expressions, are also great for learning.

Hello? This is Margaret. Алло? Это Маргарет.
Hi, Margaret. Привет, Маргарет.
So, how are you? Ну, как у тебя дела?
Fine. Хорошо.
Listen, Jean can’t come in today and now we’re a little shorthanded. Слушай, Джин не может сегодня прийти и нам сейчас немного не хватает людей.
When did she call in sick? Когда она позвонила, что заболела?
About half hour ago. Где-то с полчаса назад.
I’m having a hard time trying to find someone. У меня возникли трудности в поиске замены.
Well, what about Myrna? Хорошо, как насчет Мирны?
I know she could use the extra hours and… Я знаю, она могла бы использовать дополнительные часы и…
She’s busy. Can’t you come? Она занята. Может ты придешь?
No. No, no, no. I just… Нет. Нет, нет, нет. Я просто…
I promised Walter that I’d take him to the movies, is all, and… Я обещала Уолтеру, что мы пойдем в кино, и…
Well, it’s just until 4:00. Ну, это только до четырех.
All right. Ладно.
Just… Just until 4:00. Но… Только до четырех.
I’ll see you then. Увидимся там.

I’ll do a more complete summary of expressions from the movie soon and put them on our website, complete with audio, so come visit us there: Learn Russian

And if you have questions or comments, please, I’ll answer the English questions and perhaps others can help with the questions about Russian.

Пока!

Walter, honey. Уолтер, дорогой.
Time to wake up. Пора вставать.
Just 10 more minutes. Ну еще 10 минуточек.
Oh, I’m sorry, sport. You can sleep in tomorrow. О.. Прости, малыш. Ты можешь отоспаться завтра.
That’s what Saturdays are for. Для этого и существуют субботы.
Up against the wall. Вставай к стене.
Come, come, come. Сюда, сюда, сюда.
All right. Хорошо.
Got it. Got it. Look, look! Вот.. Вот.. Смотри, смотри!
All right, sit down. Хорошо, садись.
Your breakfast is getting cold. Твой завтрак остывает.
It’s cereal. Это хлопья.
It’s supposed to be cold. Они должны быть холодными.

English for Russian Speakers – Students and Teachers

I’ve been wondering how to start this for quite some time, and after reading an old message from a friend, it seems as good a place as any.

“I’m currently teaching English  little children. In the morning I teach at the university and in the evenings I work with 5-6-7 year olders! That’s so interesting and they are so cutie!!!!! I enjoy it so much!!!! They try to kiss  me, to hug me, to treat me with a candy and so on…. Иногда, я действительно думаю, что рождена быть учителем!
P.S. teaching is not a profession, that’s a passion”

She’s absolutely right, and what I’d really, really like to do, is to help her and others who have a passion for learning and teaching English.  I want to show you a new way to learn and teach English, or any language, and I want to help teachers become better teachers.  First, let’s correct her English. 🙂

I’m currently teaching English to little children. In the morning I teach at the university and in the evenings I work with 5-6-7 year olds! It’s so interesting and they are so cute!!!!! I enjoy it so much!!!! They try to kiss  me, and hug me, and treat me with a candy and so on….  P.S. teaching is not a profession, it’s a passion.

Hmmm… not so good when the teacher makes so many mistakes.  Of course it’s not her fault, her English is likely much better than her teachers, but perhaps there’s a way to help her and all other teachers fix their own English, so they can then teach others correctly.

And not just teachers, but parents teaching their kids, and others teaching their nieces and nephews, or younger brothers and sisters.

While helping all of you learn English, I will be learning Russian, and hopefully you will help me with that by providing corrections and such in your comments.

So from her comment:  Иногда, я действительно думаю, что рождена быть учителем!

Google translates it as:  Sometimes, I really think that is born to be a teacher!

Now, the most important point is always the idea.  What idea is being expressed? Probably she means, “Sometimes, I really think that people are born to be teachers!”  or  “Sometimes, I really think that one is born to be a teacher!

So how would I say in Russian: “Sometimes, I really think that I/she/he was born to be a teacher!”

Иногда, я действительно думаю, что он был рожден учителем!  Correct?

A ‘simple’ aspect of English which needs to be ‘internalized’ is when to use ‘that/this’ and ‘it’.  As you saw above, that mistake was made several times.  It’s very simple: this/that ‘point’ to something, something is being identified.  Once it’s known what is being discussed, then ‘it’ is used from then on.

This takes a while for kids to grasp, but you can do the following to build the foundation.  With pictures, ask the following:  What’s this?  (It’s a ….)  What colour is it?  (It’s ….)  And then change it around: What colour is this?  (It’s ….) What is it?  (It’s a ….)

Very simple, right?  For kids, it’s not so clear and obvious, but with practice and consistent and correct examples from their teacher, they will internalize the rule and never make the mistake.  For adults, it helps to clarify the concept, and then, with practice, and seeing mistakes pointed out, they’ll also be able to internalize the concept and stop making the mistake.

The word ‘to’ is a tricky word in English, since there’s no consistent rule as to when it appears after the verb.  Yet, for particular verbs, it’s totally consistent, and when you learn with the new method that we’re developing, you’ll again, never make the mistake.

….. listening to ….  Always with to.  (I’m listening to the radio.)  (I’m watching TV.)

The mistake above was a different case where the ‘to’ is connected to the noun. Again, with practice and a good method, such basic mistakes are avoided.

Often there are 2 ways of saying something, and people combine half of each.  For example:  Where are you come from?  (Откуда Вы?).  The correct way is: Where are you from? or Where do you come from?  Again, these fundamental concepts need to be internalized completely, and it’s not really that hard to do.

I work with 5-6-7 year olders.  Again, 2 choices:  I work with 5-6-7 year olds.  or  I work with 5-6-7 year old kids.

How old are you?  I’m 5.  /  I’m 5 years old.  You can’t say “I’m 5 years.”

A lot of people know the grammar but because it was never internalized, and they’re still thinking in Russian, then it often comes out wrong.

A great example of ‘Russian English’ is “I go in for sports.”  I don’t know the Russian expression that it comes from, but in English we’d simply say, “I like sports.”  And many English speakers trying to express that idea in Russian would similarly come out with an ‘English Russian’ expression. 🙂

And a final point from my friend’s message:  They are so cutie!  X    …you have to say: They are so cute.  or  They are such cuties.  Similarly, you could say to a child:  You’re so cute. / You’re such a cutie.

Movies are great for getting good little expressions that are common in real life.  The other day I was watching the video, И все-таки я люблю…, and after putting on Vera’s lipstick she says:  Вот так сделай.  The English subtitle was completely wrong:  That’s do it.

Such expressions are great because they’re very, very useful and common.  In English we’d always say:  Go like this.  ; )

So, I’ve finally gotten this started!  Hope you find it useful, and I look forward to sharing more with you.  And hearing from you!!  Please leave your comments below, and for more material, please check out or website for learning Russian, there’s lots of material there for Russian speakers learning English.

Learn Russian with Movies!!

Why suffer through boring language learning material when you can enjoy watching a movie and learning Russian at the same time?  Even for beginners it can be a pleasant supplement to your language learning program.

Here’s a very nice Russian movie, A Driver for Vera (Водитель для Веры), with English and Russian subtitles.

And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, here’s the fourth movie, The Goblet of Fire, with Russian subtitles.

And for something different, here’s an old Russian movie, 1964, that starts with a young boy and a talking dog.

For more movies, along with downloadable PDF files of the subtitles, both English and Russian shown side by side, come visit our website: eLearnRussian.com

Пока!!

Basic Russian and English with Sasha

Here’s a voicethread of my emails with Sasha, a 13 year old girl from Ukraine. Her emails have been a great help for me learning Russian and hopefully it will help others learning Russian and English.

It’s difficult to read in this small size, so you can watch it at VoiceThread:  Basic Russian and English with Sasha

Please come back here and add your comments.  This is my first attempt and I think I should change several things. Firstly, I think I need to show the fully corrected English which I’m reading and maybe put the original English with mistakes below for students to review.

Anyway, I’d really appreciate your thoughts and suggestions and look forward to hearing the Russian from Sasha!! 🙂

For more material for learning Russian, check out of websites:  Learn Russian and e3learn.com

Пока!!