Archive for the ‘russian vocabulary’ Tag

Learn Russian – Your Very First Words – by eLearnRussian.com

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?
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!
– 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?

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

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.

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!!)