Foreigncy: The Best Online Learning Resource
08 August, 2016
One of the hardest parts of learning Russian is maintaining focus in your self-study outside of the classroom.
Its not just a question of motivation, but also finding practical tools – after all, there are only so many hours you can spend writing up flashcards before you decide that monolingualism might just be your thing. Enter the world of digitised language learning. Like everything else in the universe, foreign language study has migrated onto the smartphone. There is now no shortage of apps which claim to helping you master your chosen tongue, sadly however, as you may well have discovered, in general the market is as saturated as it is useless.
The vast majority of online resources are aimed at beginners, catering for very basic exercises, simple vocabularly and grammar drills. There is a notable lack of quality resources for advanced learners – or at least, the only decent ones are usually very expensive. This is a shame, because if you’re really committed to mastering Russian its the time you spend outside of the classroom, consolidating and revising, that really counts towards your progress.
And so, let me introduce you to Foreigncy. A genuinely high-quality resource for intermediate or advanced learners – it really is one of the best tools out there to systematise your personal study. Foreigncy has two major advantage in its content and approach which elevate it above its competitors. Firstly, its very focused (Russian is one of only six languages they offer), secondly, as it is comitted to language acquisition in a professional context, it only teaches through real-time news items. Each day they upload new newscasts taken from reliable sources, (for instance BBC Russia, National Geographic or national outlets such as известия). This means that they are focused on facilitating your usage of the complex, critical language of current events.
Foreigncy uses a three-step system to assist you in reading the news items and keeping track of your progress. Firstly, there is an English language summary of the article, to give you some context, and a short video of a professional newscast, which is excellent for practicing listening skills in the notoriously fast-talking world of новости. After watching the video, (for instance on the Trump election campaign’s latest gaffe, on Turkey’s post-coup politics or coverage of the Olympic doping scandal) you download its vocabulary list. To help familiarise yourself, Foreigncy provides customisable online games and flashcards. Vocabularly recognition and memorisation is one area where this ‘ gamification’ approach to language learning is demonstrably effective, flashcards, in particualr have benefitted immeasurably from becoming digitized, as any user of the deservedly popular Quizlet app will tell you.
After practicing your listening and revising your vocabulary, Foreigncy gives you the article itself, which you are now prepped and practiced to fluently read. If not, you can go back and review any particularly difficult parts on your customisable profile.
And that’s it. You can search through hundreds of newscasts by topic or by difficulty rating. It costs as little as $7.5 a months, (if you are a student its likely that your university can provide you with free access). This is a great way to keep up your Russian once you finish yourLiden & Denz course or to supplement it when you’re here.
This blog was brought to you by Kamila, intern and student at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg