02 April 2005

Learning Foreign Lanuages

I need to learn Russian. The more the better. I don't know what to get though. I took a year of Russian in high school, so I know the Cyrillic alphabet and a few basic words (marketplace Russian), and a bit of grammar, but I want to learn more.

But I'm picky about language books. I refuse to go with anything that simply teaches phrases with no explanation of the grammar. Phrases allow you to communicate something, but you don't have any hope of understanding what someone says to you. You also are not given the tools you need to say something unique.

Basic Russian instruction might not be very helpful either. We need to learn useful Russian. Too often foreign language instruction teaches you inane conversations or words that are not practical. (Our first Uzbek book was excellent at this. We learned the names of a variety of fruits, but nothing particularly useful.)

The best experiences we've had with learning foreign languages has been by talking to native speakers. My husband learned Spanish and we both learned Arabic and a lot of Uzbek that way. I don't know anyone around here who speaks Russian.

So, I guess I need to find a worthwhile Russian book.

I also bought a map of Central Asia today.


  1. My daughter's studying Russian now. I'll ask her if she'd recommend the text they're using of if she knows of anything that's particularly useful.

  2. Thanks, that would be appreciated.

  3. I'd really recommend this Penguin book for beginners.

    It's a small and lightweight paperback, so you can take it with you, and it covers a reasonably sized, and actually useful vocabulary, plus all the grammar you'll need.

    Combine it with a dictionary and you have everything you need. (Just take a pocket dictionary with you to save packing space, as you should be able to pick up some really good dictionaries for very low cost when you are actually in Samarkand. There's a Russian edition of the Oxford Russian dictionary, published in hardback in Russia and available for a tenth of the US price that I'd really recommend.)

  4. Thanks Andy. This book looks useful. And thanks for stopping by. I enjoy SiberianLight.

  5. Amira, my father-in-law has taught himself Russian quite successfully over the past ten years or so. I'm not sure if he'd have any input, but I'll ask him.

  6. Thanks Bryce. The internet certainly makes it convenient to find people with a wide variety of knowledge and interests.

  7. The new england football manager Fabio Capello has vowed to learn english by the 7th of January. Can he do it? Go to Capello Learn English and pledge your support!