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Russian language: no more bullshit
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Shemp Offline

Posts: 189
Joined: Oct 2018
Post: #611
RE: Russian language: no more bullshit
Well, I picked that anecdote from memory just to illustrate my point about importance of motivation, same as the anecdote about missionaries.

I never said or thought that one-on-one is useless, but it is by no means the "gold standard". For beginners, one-on-one is expensive, inconvenient and slow compared to something like Pimsleur. The main advantage is that a good one-on-one teacher can catch bad pronunciation habits early, before they become ingrained, whereas Pimsleur can't. However, if you use Pimsleur properly, making an effort to exactly imitate the Russian voices, this should not be a problem for native English speakers learning Russian. Rolled R will eventually come naturally, same as with Spanish. Difference between soft and hard L is of little mportance: native Russian speakers will understand you even if you pronounce all L sounds the same. Likewise for other fine points of Russian pronunciation.

Another possible advantage of one-on-one lessons, FOR SOME PEOPLE, is motivation. Some people react strongly and positively to personal attention. Other people find one-on-one lessons highly demotivating because of the inconvenience factor. Motivation is critical, so know which group you belong to and act accordingly.

The reason I jumped on that "one-on-one is the gold standard" assertion is that I keep hearing it or something similar from people who are clearly failing to learn effectively (not referring to anyone in this thread, rather to people in real life). For example, I encountered students at my Spanish language school in Antigua, Guatemala, receiving one-on-one instruction and making little progress. Problem was that a person can only learn so much new language per day and they were starting from nothing, hence had nothing to converse with. Had they done 120 Pimsleur Spanish lessons, plus built a good vocabulary using flashcards, prior to arriving at the school, they would have been in position to practice using that vocabulary in active conversation, and thus make rapid progress. I made rapid progress myself because I was at C1 or higher level for reading Spanish and B2 for listening comprehension, and all I needed was help making my strong passive skills active. One-on-one lessons are great for that. I did the same with Russian a few years ago, but was only at A2 level then (limited vocabulary and grammar), which is too early. Better to wait until passive skills at least B1.

I also keep hearing "immersion is what really works" or similar, again from people whose results are not impressive. For example, I frequently encounter Mexican immigrants in the USA who want to learn English, and American retirees to Mexico and British retirees to Spain who want to learn Spanish, in all cases not making much progress. In internet forums like this, I frequently encounter guys living part or full-time for years in Russia or Ukraine, sometimes even married to a Russian speaker, who still don't speak much Russian.

Sometimes I ask those wanting to learn Russian/Spanish if they've tried Pimsleur. Answer is invariably no. But often they have taken classes or one-on-one lessons and they are immersed in a Russian/Spanish speaking country, so what's the problem? Dithering around. Classes/lessons infrequent, they get tired of being unable to express themselves in Russian/Spanish and so revert to English, teacher/girlfriend doesn't want to offend paying students/boyfriend and so accommodates them, they never do hard stuff like Anki flashcards, etc. Immersion alone is no panacea.

I don't work for Pimsleur or Assimil and don't get any commission on sales. Maybe other courses work better. For people who thrive on personal attention, one-on-one might work better, at much higher cost in time and money. I used Pimsleur and Assimil myself to learn basic Russian and they worked very well for me. I chose them because they were the courses most consistently recommended by people who seemed to know what they were talking about with regards to language learning. These courses together will only get you to about A2 level. Lots of ways to progress from there.

Anyway, I needed 5 posts to send PMs and I didn't want to post junk, so I decided to post on a topic where I had something worthwhile to contribute, and my original posts earlier did include lots of links that people might find useful. но, хватит на сейчас, успеха к всем с русским.
10-22-2018 12:08 AM
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Messages In This Thread
Russian language: no more bullshit - Roosh - 04-14-2013, 06:51 PM
RE: Russian language: no more bullshit - Shemp - 10-22-2018 12:08 AM

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