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What I think about the course being a native

Привет! Just finished the Russian tree (I’m a native from Moscow, that’s why it didn’t take long).

Was it easy? Not at all! Russian is extremely flexible language and in most cases you can say completely the same in 3-5 ways (simply by changing word order, changing prepositions, adding different prefixes and so on). While I was doing shortcuts, the system kept showing mistakes in correct sentences and I kept sending reports. I guess in total I made over 150 of them, and fortunately a lot are already accepted. Hope everyone will contribute and finally the course will have an extensive database of all possible solutions for each sentence (it’s needed here even more than in any other language).

All in all, the course is awesome. Huge thanks to the team, I just can’t believe what a hard work it was. Grammar especially is presented at a very high level; it seems almost every important point is covered. You’ll just need to extend your vocabulary a bit to have a really decent level.

A lot of people criticized audio here but to my ears it’s overall OK. Wrong pronunciation is very rare. And real native speech is a lot faster and less attentive; everyone just needs time to get used to it.

Recommend to use Cyrillic in learning, it’s not that hard. At last Russians learn Latin somehow. Don’t know why Latin version was added, it looks very strange to my eyes and surely is not used anywhere in Russia.

For those of you eager to learn more about Russia, we have prepared an extensive Russian Geography course. More information about it here:


Or you can immediately check it out on Memrise:


Good luck to everyone in learning Russian and welcome to our hospitable country! And once again huge appreciation to the team)

November 5, 2015



It's great to hear what a native Russian speaker thinks about the entire course; thank you for your insight! :)


Приветствия из Америки!


Спасибо, но кто же так говорит ? ))


Я, я так говорю.


Нет проблем, но лучше говорить "Привет из Америки!". У вас же один привет, а не много приветствий.


Greetings from America is absolutely acceptable in this situation. No, you would not typically say "greetings" to an individual, (you could, but you would be looked at very oddly, indeed) but to a large, unknown group on a forum, - yes. It is a nice way of saying hello to all.


На английском может и так, но по русски ведь так никто не говорит.


not 'to' an individual, but AS an individual. As an individual you only send one greeting. True, in English you say 'Greetings from..." but not in Russian, unless you're passing the greetings from a group of more than 1. Anyway, people. The course is coarse, the audio is off more than once, please get more native speakers. And refresh the sentences, the structure is weird on more than one occasion. And the lessons are very hard, and get very difficult very quickly. Very sharp learning curve, unlike Spanish... which seems a mile long and an inch thick. Where is the balance???

Anyway, happy learning folks!


У них в таких случаях как раз много приветствий))


Да уж, другой язык - другие правила )


If there is an option to use Cyrillic alphabet, how can I change the course from Latin to Cyrillic alphabet?


Use a small button at the top. It says Aa or Яя, depending on which characters you chose to display your exercises. I heard that there is a but in the mobile version of the site: namely, the button is nowhere to be seen. In this case, either enter the site from you PC and switch the script there—or use the full version of the site (not the mobile one).


Thank you! I did not know this. It will be so much easier for me now. I was actually pretty frustrated when I thought this came in transliteration only. Just ask my husband! ;)


Отличный вопрос и прекрасный ответ от Shady_arc. Если я правильно понимаю, как на duolingo ранжируются посты, то нужно побольше лайков ставить на вопрос JakaPresec, чтобы он был выше. Т.к. уверен, что многие как и я не знали об этой возможности.

Спасибо Shady_arc за ответ и JakaPresec за вопрос !

[deactivated user]

    Truth be told, I actually find it hard to try to read Russian and Ukrainian in Latin letters. I recognize the words better in Cyrillic.


    No surprise here. Cyrillic was actually invented for Slavic languages to correspond with their sound system. Thanks to it, we mostly have 1 character for 1 sound and can write short борщ instead of long borscht. While West Slavs, who adopted Latin, have to solve this problem by writing longer words and adding tonnes of diacritics. As you learn Cyrillic you'll see that it's actually a lot easier to read.


    It's easier to write in Cyrillic, that's right. But writing in Cyrillic with a Latin keyboard is a real challenge. I can't remember where the letters are. What's your advice would be?


    You can order Russian stickers from Amazon (or online retailer of your choice) for just a few bucks. I swear by them.


    what a great idea, thank you


    Yes! I think I got mine for $2 or less on eBay.


    I've been practising for a few days, and it really helps if you know typing. I made a course for latin typing a few years ago (online free course, you complete it in a couple of ours, then it is all practice) and it tripled my tiping speed. When I started to write cyrillic (just now with duolingo) I memorized the keyboard pretty fast without having to look. Hope this helps


    Absolutely. I quickly amazed my Russian grad student friends in Moscow using your method, and suddenly I could touch type in either language and they could touch type in neither.


    Use a printout of a Cyrilic keyboard and put it next to your computer (that's the way I learned to type in the first place)


    Stickers with Russian characters might be a solution, i would probably stick to this option if i had no Russian keyboard. Surely, at the beginning you'll type slowly, it'll take time to remember where this or that letter is. Only practice can improve that. Here in Russia a lot of us type Latin and Cyrillic with the same speed, both skills are essential for an educated person.


    You can easily have a virtual keyboard. Type "windows" key + "r". In the window type 'osk'. A virtual keyboard will appear.


    How do I get the on-screen keyboard to display Cyrillic? That would be so helpful.


    I'm using my iPhone so I go to Settings then under General I think, scroll down to keyboards and add the ones you want. Then you can toggle them.


    thanks! I was using a picture...


    you can use a phonetic layout I downloaded one here:http://winrus.com/kbd_e.htm i find it usefull you have to memorise fewer keys


    I would suggest downloading a phonetic Cyrillic keyboard (t = т; s = с; i = и; etc.). Here's one with simple instructions to install: http://russian-phonetic-keyboard-layout.soft112.com/download.html.


    "writing in Cyrillic with a Latin keyboard is a real challenge"

    Isn't that called Polish? ;-)


    I use on screen keyboard, just search osk in you pc... helps a lot for reference.


    If using Windows... You should be able to download the mnemonic Russian keyboard through Windows 10. It's really easy to type in Russian with Cyrillic characters as the Latin letters on the keyboard correspond with the Cyrillic letters they sound like. E.g. G -> Г You can also use an easy keyboard shortcut to switch back and forth between each typing language using the Windows button + spacebar


    It takes practice. Read russian newspapers or browse sites. Even if you don't understand anything you'll have fun sounding the words out.


    As of writing, I've just barely begun (finished 4 lessons so far), but I switched to Cyrillic right from the first. Actual spellings are Cyrillic only, so there's no sense at all in learning anyone's particular form of transliteration. All of those are dependent in some fashion upon the way the language of translation uses letters for sounds. English and German, for example, both use Latin lettering, but would employ different standard transliterations because their own phonetics are different. And of course, there's never just one way to do anything. It's much easier to learn Cyrillic right out of the starting gate. At this early stage, the hardest part about it is in providing Russian translations for English sentences when I haven't yet got a Cyrillic key setup on my computer. I'm learning the Cyrillic spellings just fine, but then I have to guess what kind of transliteration to provide. I think I'll be finding a keyboard solution right away rather than mess with Latin letters in Russian, and I'd recommend other beginners do so also. I expect I'll be pretty fluent in recognizing the Cyrillic letters themselves before I've finished two or three skills. There's nothing like using them to make them familiar.


    I agree. Cyrillic is pretty funky!


    Yes! I totally agree. They just look funny and not the same language.


    Hi Evelyn: I think it's kind of like when you learn Spanish in school, they teach Castillian Spanish, which all fine and good and you'll learn Spanish, but it will do you very little good in Mexico or Puerto Rico or possibly even outside the Castille area of Spain. It will give you a stepping off point, but it really won't be much help idiomatically. English is the same way... someone coming here having "learned English" in their country will be lost when they get here.

    When I took Russian in college (46 years ago), I also had a tutor who was trained by the Army at the Monterey Institute. They do total immersion and they train you to really speak the language so you can blend in. He taught me all kinds of things that they didn't teach in class.

    My biggest problem right now (other than the declensions and cases) is that I really don't hear as well anymore and listening to native speakers, I lose half of what they're saying. They say as you age, the consonants go first -- and they weren't kidding.

    At this point, I'm aiming for reading fluency in Russian, since I can take it in smaller chunks, so to speak. I'm more of a visual learner anyway, so that's working for me.

    When I was in college, while struggling to get through the math classes, I took language classes to keep the GPA up. Simultaneously, I took Russian, French, Spanish, German and Chinese. Chinese was what finally made my head explode, but I managed the others fairly well. These day's, I'm working on the one language, given time and other constraints.


    Well, you know, you can do anything when you're 17! It's been a long time since. The fun part is what triggered my desire to relearn... that's it's own story. I had a recent MRI (you can't really do much other than wander around in your head for 40 minutes or so because it's way to noisy to sleep, and the technician had a Slavic accent that I suspected was Russian, but wasn't sure. He introduced himself as Eugene, and as I was a prisoner of the MRI tube for nearly an hour, I got to thinking about how I thought Eugene was the American version of Yevgeny, so I asked him about it when I was finally free again. LOL. He kind of lit up that I would even know that and said he was Russian. So that got me thinking... I shared with him an incredibly silly Soviet era nursery rhyme that my tutor, Roger, had taught me (and lord knows why of all the things I learned back then, that managed to stick). So I managed to find Duolingo and I'm having a blast!


    Thank you for testing the tree. Good to hear that a native speaker is impressed by the tree. Sounds like the Russian team did an amazing job :) I am really like the language so far even though it is very hard.


    The latin spelling definitely helps when I see a new word for the first time. I'm still learning pronunciation, hard sounds, soft sounds, where to stress etc... It's similar when people learn Japanese. They can also learn the latin spelling of a symbol, I think it's called Romanji


    I'm still on level 3 of the course, but I love listen to the Russian language, so I've been trying to learn it for a little over a year now. And it's a good thing that Duolingo came out with a Russian course, because I'm so used to using this site that I have a hard time using other ones, and that was a big problem considering that up until this week I'd been teaching myself with only a little help from my cousin. (She's much older than me and went to collage in Russia, so she speaks fluently in the language.)


    Congrats on finishing the tree! That was fast. I'm doing the same, but it turns out I'm a good candidate for beta testing. Having finished a few trees here, I acquired a skill of picking the exact phrasing Duo wants %) so I rarely have to report anything.

    So I'm moving very slowly but hang out in discussions quite a lot.


    Good to hear from a native that the grammar is well covered!


    I support your recommendation to use the Cyrillic alphabet in learning. In my opinion, learning a new language requires going head-first and not taking any shortcuts, especially when the alphabets are completely new territory to the learner. Sure, it puts the person out of their comfort zone, but if you feel comfortable, chances are, you (arguably) aren't learning properly. One learns by recognizing repetitive patterns, and repetition is everywhere when it comes to languages. So the only missing ingredient is patience because it takes a while for new and important information to register in human long-term memory.


    The Russian keyboard...yes... The problem I find with is it doesn't seem to align itself as best as possible with the QWERTY keyboard unlike the Ukrainian keyboard. The Russian letters seem to be all over the place in general. It would be helpful if there was a program that automatically transliterated Latin letters to Cyrillic when you tell it to. That way you can type in the Latin script such as typing 'Vot' and it would change it to 'Boт' itself.


    Here's a website that achieves what you seek http://www.translit.cc/ ... I'm not sure how much that website is going to help you, or if you are strictly seeking a piece of software... I understand the desire for automatic transliteration, but please know that part of learning a language is dedication and adaptation. I admit that I shared your sentiment for a short period at one point too. The letters are indeed all over the place. However, if you think about it, it's a subjective opinion. Case in point, a Russian person learning English could also say that the letters of a QWERTY keyboard are all over the place. Getting yourself familiar with the layout will take no more than a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on how much time and effort you invest into typing using the ЙЦКЕН layout. Acceptance is another factor. You may invest time but remain reluctant to accept. That could slow down the speed at which you would become more familiar with the layout. I hope this gives you some insight and motivation. All the best!


    Hey, thanks! I took Russian in school over 40 years ago -- never got particularly fluent, but had such a good time learning. Every now and then I think about possibly relearning some of the languages I took in school (French, Spanish, German, Chinese, and Russian - don't ask!), but never really got very far with it. Recently, the bug to try and relearn the Russian bit me again, and I just happened across Duolingo while floating around the Internet. What a great app! I particularly like the fact that it is a combination of drills (boring, but ya gotta do 'em) and semi-immersion (the way babies learn). Since they don't write down the grammar rules, particularly verb conjugation and noun declension, you have to figure it out yourself by usage and context.

    I don't find the Cyrillic alphabet all that difficult. It isn't THAT different from English and there is enough that is either the came or looks the same that you can grab onto it. I did install a Cyrillic keyboard on my iPhone and iPad, since I do most of my practice on those devices (I'm using English here because I'm on my desktop and besides, it's faster for me).

    The audio is my most difficult part (thank goodness it can be slowed down some) since 40 years later, I just don't hear as well as I do, so I do a lot of practice with that, but even that is getting better, albeit slowly. My reading and comprehension knowledge has definitely improved in only a few weeks, so I'm not discouraged.

    This is a great app. Keep up the good work!


    This is something I really wanted to see, an opinion of a native Russian speaker! I'm glad grammar isn't as strict as they paint it out to be in Duolingo (AKA the word order), though sadly I'll have to accomodate to it's standards if I want to complete the tree :')

    Still, I appreciate the insight!


    Awesome! Thanks for your reports! I have already had 16 of my reports accepted.


    Very interesting comment. Thank you.


    Awesome, very encouraging! I'm going to dig into it this summer (Australia).


    Thank you Nikita for your encouraging comment!


    This is very helpful. I am just getting started with Russian (living in Ukraine and have been waiting a long time for this, as Duolingo is the best language learning system out there (other than taking a class, perhaps), especially given that it's free.)


    There are various hiccups there and there, but overall it's great, Russian is a very tough language to learn and teach, so it's expected, especially for the beta. It will get much better over time.


    I don't understand how I am learning Russian if I am looking at English alphabet. I am learning the sounds - but how does that transition into reading it?


    You can change that on your computer. Use the small button at the top left, It says Aa (latin) or Яя (cyrillic). Hope that helps!


    Muchas gracias por el curso, es un placer poder aprender ruso, y mucho mejor en inglés, porque así practico dos idiomas tan interesantes, lo mas difícil es cambiar al teclado cirílico, yo lo hago con el teclado virtual de windows. ¿Cómo lo hacen ustedes? Очень благодарен

    [deactivated user]

      Thank you for the encouragement to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. I tried doing the course in Latin but could not figure out how to add the accents/diacritical marks. So on to a new alphabet!


      Russian language is really hard... (it's all the different letters that get to me) I mean I know how to speak most of it and I understand it too but I can't read or write it.


      Still learning, but have 100% agreed with what you said!

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