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Mike Wellman - story of how I learnt some Russian


I'd learn French and Latin to GCSE 'O' Level (the exam some English children used to take typcially when they were 16) and though I had done OK in the logic side of language (conjugating verbs, declining nouns) I had little confidence in my ability to communicate with native speakers and didn't particularly enjoy speaking the languages.

In 1979 I was playing in a band with a friend from Germany, and living in a house with someone who was training to teach languages, and I also was given a huge German dictionary by a friend (I can't remember if this was because I was already interested in learning German, or because I wondered about making sense of German words in Hegel and Marx. Peter invited me and my girlfriend to Germany and I decided to learn a bit of German and got myself a basic text book. I did quite well on chapter one and can still remember how to say that the sky is blue and the sailor is happy - but didn't get any further than that.

I learnt to touch type over a number of years, which is a skill of which I'm unreasonably proud. More on this later.

I started learning Russian towards the end of 2007. The project on which I worked had a Russian office and I had met some Russians when they were working in the UK office and I was visiting the office myself.

I have had a habit in the past with a new enthusiasm of getting the resources before I know I have the committment. In this case I decided that I would need to master the alphabet (the cyrillic alphabet used for Russian) before I started buying text books. I had mastered a "strange" (to me) alphabet before having learnt the Greek alphabet in my teens. My Great Aunt Violet had tried to encourage an interest in language by giving me the French New Testatment & Psalms, and then gave me "Teach Yourself Greek". The signs of the alphabet did intrigue me and I did learnt it by heart (I can remember a lot of it still), but apart from realising how many English words had been borrowed from the Greek I didn't go any further with it. On my only Greek holiday it was useful for decipherying signs and being able to make a good guess at what they represented if there was any part of it that resembled an English word.

Back to the Russian alphabet. As I said, I could already touch type in English so I found out that anyone could very quickly convert their keyboard to produce the Cyrillic alphabet. I tried learning to type the alpabet out in order. July 2011

Resource on the Internet

Stage of Learning Rating Name (KB) URL Last visited Heard about via Comments
Beginners to Advanced 90 (60 beginners 90 advanced) Russian Wiki Dictionary Every week. Fantastic! 1587