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  5. Any other recovering russopho…


Any other recovering russophones out there?

I just wondered if anyone is in a similar boat? I did Russian at uni but haven't studied it in over 14 years and have rarely had a chance to use it, so it's... rusty (in some areas, plain old falling apart). I surprise myself with some of the things I remember... and disappoint myself with some of the things I've forgotten!

Just wondered if anyone else is in a similar encouraging/depressing situation ;) maybe we can encourage and commiserate with one another?

November 4, 2015



I did Russian at uni for two years as part of a languages degree (with a four months stint in St Petersburg in the middle).

I never really got past intermediate, which is a shame, but I think I could hold my own for a while. Now, (only three and a half years later!) I could hardly get a sentence out without an error.

So the course is going pretty well so far. I'm just testing out skills so far, and haven't had any problems yet (except with my English typos...). It's interesting to see Russian taught outside a university environment (I certainly never came across some of these sentences in our set texts!), and it's always pleasant (but a bit depressing) to come across words I don't know, even this early in the course. I mean, how did I ever get by without knowing утка?

How's the course treating you?


I have had my ups and downs! I feel like there's some stuff I never properly learned in the first place - I think when I was really in practice, maybe I kind of got by on instinct, but because I didn't learn the rules, I don't have them to fall back on. Then there's other stuff I basically remember without even having to think about it, which is encouraging!

I lived in St Pete for almost four months! Ages ago, though, Autumn '99, and visited again for a couple of days in June 2000. What time of year were you there? Where did you live? Did you do all the sites? Eat борщ at the Идиот? I'm actually jealous because you were there so much more recently than me! I was just talking with a friend last night and feeling oddly homesick for it, and absolutely craving a good СПБ street shaverma - I've had shavermas elsewhere in Russia and the local equivalent in other countries, but they just aren't the same anywhere else. (Which some people may consider a good thing, but I was a fan, okay? heheheheh)

I think the most frustrating thing is when you make typos in your native language. I have done that a lot, so I (sadly) empathise greatly.

I tested out of a chunk of the top of the tree, so I actually kinda skipped the ducks! But I'm sort of looking forward to going back and revising and hopefully coming across lots of silly sentences... :D


Well my dad can speak it fluently and my mom is just like you -- she hasn't learned/spoken it properly in 14-15 years. She tells me she can understand Russian completely but not speak it very well, but apparently can get to a fluent level if spoken to for some time in Russian. It all comes back.

I'm, instead, being surprised at how similar the language is to mine (Bulgarian).


I do find if I'm in a situation where I have to speak Russian for some reason, it comes back to me, but it's still not comfortable, if that makes sense?

Hah, yeah, I have a Bulgarian friend who I sometimes randomly email in Russian, and she usually understands me more or less. I struggle more when she emails me in Bulgarian, but I can usually figure out what she's saying. I looooove Slavic languages! But BG is more different than most, or it seems that way to me. It's really interesting!


Yeah, written Russian is easy to get the gist of, and learning a few Russian words can get you very far. Spoken Russian is a different story! But I find that a lot of our words are very similar, but the Russian ones are just pronounced differently.

Bulgarian is a lot less "soft" than Russian is, if you understand what I mean. It's sounds are harder and you pronounce every letter, while in Russian you don't as much, you put much more "twirl" in the sounds.

I hope that made sense haha


Same here! I learned Russian at school for some years, but I absolutely hated the teacher and, as it usually happens in such cases, lost pretty much all interest in the language. I haven't used it in over ten years now, but I was really excited when the Russian course was released on Duolingo. At the beginning I took the placement test just for fun, but couldn't test out of any skills. Doing the lessons, I find I remember a lot though - apparently I'm not that bad at understanding spoken Russian. I still can't spell a single Russian word correctly though...

I'm enjoying the course so far, and I think I'm rediscovering my enthusiasm for the language, now that there's no teacher to ruin it for me. Proves again that Duolingo is amazing! :-)


A bad teacher can be such a turn off. I did German for two years in school; first year, fantastic teacher, learned loads, loved it. Second year? Rubbish teacher, hated it, dropped it ASAP. Which is a shame because it would have been way better prep for Russian, to be honest! It's very cool that you're rediscovering it :D


I studied Russian through grade 5-7 and really loved but then I got in a language high school and chose German (which I hate) instead of Russian.

Now I'm in university and over the years I barely used Russian until two years ago when I got hooked on Russian comedies and realized that I remember a lot more, which is not that surprising given how I'm Bulgarian and the two languages have a lot in common.

I can easily understand Russian when it's spoken but i have trouble speaking it and sometimes reading it, so I hope that Duolingo will help me with that.


There seem to be a lot of Bulgarians on Duolingo! It's pretty cool :D

I feel like I'm getting a good grounding in a lot of stuff I've forgotten. Some of it is still in there somewhere, and I can usually recognise the vocab (except where it's changed or the usage is not quite how I remember), but the grammar I always struggled with and I've lost a lot.


Russian was my first language till the age of four, when I learned Hebrew in kindergarten, and then my mom started speaking Hebrew with me half of the time, my little brother barely knows it and it's no use teaching him something he doesn't want to learn, and all the kids and teachers at school spoke Hebrew (interestingly, almost all of the students spoke Russian regularly, and thus, better than me).

We had a Russian class once or twice a week till highschool, when taking one meant the mark goes in your bagrut (Israeli GED), so obviously I stopped taking it because I didn't want my average to drastically drop. When I told my mom I started the Duolingo course she was thrilled and told me to stick to it, and also to learn as many languages as I can.

Side note: I speak Russian more fluently after a shot of vodka.


It's been almost two years since I used any Russian. I am annoyed with myself for letting my Russian become so poor!!!


I am annoyed with myself for letting my Russian become so poor

Me toooooo!


I took Russian over the summer. I didn't practice for two months afterwards and I'm still pretty rusty. :(


I empathise greatly!


I studied Russian three years ago for half a year learning mostly vocabulary. I've not spent that much time learning grammar as it is similar to Polish and I just wanted to be able to speak and read the language.

Since then I've been studying through immersion by listening to Russian music, reading books (Harry Potter at first, now I'm struggling with Достоевски) I've subscribed to Meduza few months ago. They have an amazing newsletter which you should try out if you're interested in Russia and don't want to miss anything important. (You can subscribe by clicking on РАССЫЛКА on the bottom left on their website.)

Now with Duolingo I'll start studying Russian properly again. I can speak the language quite well but I still struggle with the grammar and spellings.

Meduza newsletter (it's much easier to read with formatting)

Вечерняя Медуза

30 октября. Братья Навальные, убыток «АвтоВАЗа» и растопырки

Новости. Просто новости. Николай Патрушев обвинил США в производстве биологического оружия в СНГ (где именно — не сказал). Путин поручил проверить средства защиты от ядерной угрозы (вдруг что-то устарело), а депутаты предложили запретить отвечать на запросы иностранцев без санкции власти (иными словами, пресс-секретаря президента Дмитрия Пескова можно будет каждый день штрафовать; ну или наложить на него какие-то санкции!).

Про братьев Навальных. Олегу что-то совсем худо — не успел он выйти из ШИЗО, как его снова туда отправили. Алексей Навальный, меж тем, продолжает изучать странные активности людей, работающих на государство. Совсем недавно он публиковал фотографии дома Шойгу в Барвихе, а сейчас обнаружил у ведущей Первого канала Екатерины Андреевой гражданство Черногории.

Что будет, если убыток «АвтоВАЗа» поделить на количество выпущенных автомобилей? Нехитрую арифметическую задачку решили в РБК. Выяснилось, что каждый автомобиль приносит «АвтоВАЗу» убыток в 43 тысячи рублей. Но это ничего страшного — в 2009 году было аж 170 тысяч.

Задачка посложнее. «Четыре четырки, две растопырки, седьмой — вьюн. Что это?» Это загадка из учебника для первого класса, которую процитировала спикер Совета Федерации Валентина Матвиенко. По ее мнению, загадку составлял «какой-то гастарбайтер». Чего только не услышишь в Совете Федерации.

Осмысливаем вчерашние новости. Вчера их было много, например, про новую пионерию. Написали текст «Пионеры — это здорово! На самом деле нет» — можете считать это позицией редакции, в которой работают родители 19 детей. Еще из вчерашнего: подготовили текст про то, чем известна Елена Скрынник, бывший министр сельского хозяйства, которую с позором выгнали из «Единой России».

«Октябрьские диалоги» на «Медузе». Наступают последние выходные месяца — а значит, время «Диалогов». На этот раз в библиотеке имени Маяковского встретятся Гейдар Джемаль с Михаилом Пиотровским, Вера Полозкова с Дианой Арбениной и Кирилл Набутов с Ольгой Романовой. Изначально вместо Романовой в диалогах должна была участвовать Ника Стрижак, но в последний момент организаторам — «Открытой библиотеке» — пришлось сделать замену. В общем, если вы в Питере, приходите в библиотеку к трем (а лучше чуть пораньше), если нет — смотрите диалоги на «Медузе».

Хороших выходных! Ваша дорогая редакция


I'll check it out :)


I had Russian for 5 years at primary and middle school, and then at high school I joined my classmates who had been learning Russian from scratch for a year for two more years. Total of 7.


I probably didn't study it as much as you, but I did study Russian in high school. I even forgot how to read most Cyrillic over the years.

I started learning Russian again last year, went through Rosetta Stone Russian 1, and then when I discovered Duolingo, I decided to wait until it came here.

It's coming back to me pretty well, but it's also sad how much you can forget.


Languages are a perishable skill. I took years of Spanish and German in high school, and I can barely remember either of them (though I can still ask where the bathroom is). Best I can do is sometimes read basic Spanish or German text, but my speaking and listening have become garbage.

On a side note, my mom can speak seven languages, including Spanish, German, Russian, Farsi, and Arabic, and according to her, Arabic and Farsi fade much faster from memory than any of the others for some reason.

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