Five Ways for a Full Russian Language Immersion
29 August, 2017
Learning a language is like learning to play an instrument or a sport. Regular practice will have its benefits and there is no better way to keep your practice ticking over than a full Russian language immersion! This article will give you some clear tips on how to fully immerse yourself in Russian whilst you are in Russia.
On the one hand, the Russian language is indeed beautiful, but on the other, rather complicated. One day, it seems that you are able to communicate and the next you simply find that you can’t string a sentence together. Of course, this is just part of language learning and occurs when you learn any language. However, you must remember one key thing: DO NOT GIVE UP!
Number one: Change your phone language
If you feel like you are able to do so, then you should definitely change the настройки (settings) on your mobile phone or other device and use Russian. This is a great way of coming across new words that you may have never seen before. As a result of this, it will enhance your knowledge of certain words which are always handy to know.
Number two: Listen to radio/podcasts as an alternative to music
Although it may be simpler and more comforting to listen to music whilst walking around or sitting on a bus, challenge yourself and try listening to Russian radio and podcasts. Even if you aren’t used to listening to Russian, this will really help your ears to tune into the sounds and pronunciation of the language. Some great radio stations and podcasts, which I find really helpful, are Эхо Москвы (Echo of Moscow), SBS Russian, Native Speaker – Russian Language and Медуза (Meduza).
Number three: Be aware of your surroundings
In other words, open your eyes and take every chance you can to read. For example, pick up the metro newspaper when you get on the metro. This newspaper isn’t too complicated and it often has more light-hearted and accessible stories. I always learn a new word or two from this easy-going read.
Additionally, travelling on the metro or other public transport is a great way to expose and immerse yourself in Russian. On the surface alone, the signs are useful just for reading and practicing your understanding of the кириллица (Cyrillic alphabet).
Number four: Find a conversation partner
This is a brilliant way to make a Russian friend and use your language skills at the same time. In return, you may also get the opportunity to help your tandem partner with your native language. This has been the method that I have found most useful because I get to actively use Russian and I explicitly tell my tandem partner that I want to be corrected when I make mistakes (this happens to be very often)! This method will help your confidence grow as you will get to practice your target language in a friendly environment. But perhaps what is most helpful is that the exposure to informal Russian will allow you to come across a whole plethora of new words and phrases. It can really be beneficial to making your Russian sound more like the Russian that is spoken on the streets as opposed to just repeating what you may have learned from a textbook etc.
Number five: Keep a vocab-book to hand
In conjunction with finding a conversation partner, it is really useful to always keep a small vocabulary book to hand. Upon arrival in Russia, I am sure that there will be many new words and phrases which you come across. So, why not write them down in order to become familiar with them. In this way, you will be able to flick through the notes you have made perhaps before going to bed or when you are on the metro. By reading them fairly regularly, you will start to absorb the words and phrases passively. By turning this small act into a habit really helps to keep words and phrases as fresh as possible in your head.
As a last word of advice, I would say that whilst you are in Russia, have confidence and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. We all make mistakes when speaking in a foreign language. It is just important that have a full Russian language immersion as much as you can in the time that you have in Russia. It will help you to improve your language in the long run!