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https://www.duolingo.com/XYZ1992

Has anyone w/o previous exposure to Russian or who didn't speak a Slavic language finish the tree?

I was looking through all the top "I finished the Russian tree!" posts for motivation - instead I came out entirely unmotivated. ALL of the posts are by people who (a) already spoke Russian or had been previously exposed to the language, (b) formally studied Russian in high school or college, or (c) spoke a similar Slavic language. I'm feeling unmotivated because it seems that no one else has finished the tree? As someone who is really struggling with Russian and who had no prior education in this language, I'm really feeling discouraged and could use some motivation :/

2 years ago

33 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a
annika_a
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Don't worry! It's only been about 2 1/2 months since the course came out in beta.

If a true beginner has finished the tree at this point, they still have a lot of practice to do before it all sticks and/or they have spent all waking hours on it.

I've done a little Russian many years ago (and then forgotten it all), and I'm only planning to finish the tree in another 8 months' time. Learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint.

Wait until the end of 2016 or so and there will be plenty of "I learned Russian from scratch using this course and can now read the newspaper and Harry Potter" posts.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BrookeLorren
BrookeLorren
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This.

Most people do not do a course here in 2 1/2 months. Even with languages that are comparatively easier for English speakers, like Spanish, 2 1/2 months is pretty quick. And even then, chances are, that person will still be practicing a lot to get there that fast... and they'll need to practice, or they'll forget everything.

I did finish the Russian tree fairly early, and yes, I studied Russian in high school. It was a LOT of work; on average, I spent at least a couple of hours every day on it. Even still, my tree has a lot of pretty colors in it, and I still practice Russian every day.

There is a section of the tree that is very hard, where they keep throwing grammar at you. You're probably in that spot now. There are later lessons that focus on vocabulary that are not as difficult :-).

How well you learn the language is more important than how long it takes you to finish the tree. If I were to finish the tree in a month and not touch a lick of Russian for a long time, I'd forget almost everything. It would be better for a person to take a year or two to learn a language, and then keep practicing it on occasion, for the rest of their lives, than to spend a month to finish a tree and then forget everything. Keep on practicing and you'll get there!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SuzanneFau1

I began to learn right from here at duolingo. Wanted to do something different from painting. At first I was discouraged because I could not hear and was nearly going to give it up. Then others here directed me to how to turn off the sound. All good from there.

The major hurdle for me is the grammar. I left school when very young just under 60 years ago. If I ever did learn anything it was long forgotten. I bought the English Grammar for Dummies book and had to learn my native language before even trying to understand what verbs, nouns, pronouns were. The fact that I am fluent in my native tongue without knowing any grammar encouraged me to go forward with the lessons and see what happened.

As I slowly learned the English grammar then it made the learning of the lessons easier. I am finding the site so helpful and friendly that it encourages learning just by the atmosphere. The more I learn, the more interesting it becomes. I get the feeling that when I finish that I will probably start over from the beginning again and see how it works out.

My words of wisdom are never give up. The challenge is the motivator. Keep smiling and enjoy every day.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ddbeachgirl
ddbeachgirl
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Yours is one of the most inspiring stories I read! I'd have to say, the take away from your story for me is, Love it and you'll Learn it. Thanks for sharing for XYZ1992, and for everyone!

Encouragement is an essential part of the DL community! XYZ1992, you were right on track reaching out to others! Great job :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nitedemon
nitedemon
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I feel you pain lol. My native language is Cantonese and I am still struggling in the middle of the Russian tree with two check points ahead. But here's my two cents on why this tree is extra hard compared to others and how I am dealing with it:

  1. The Cyrillic Alphabet is pretty confusing for people who's familiar with the Latin alphabet. You have letters with different pronounciation from Latin alphabet and you have brand new letters. These make Russian very intimidating to look at (at least for me at first). To deal with this I used memrise and some other apps that help me familiarize with the alphabet. Once you are comfortable with them , you will realize there are quite a few of the words have exact counterpart in English, French or others. For me, when I figured out there is link between "фильм" and "film", or "магазин" and "magasin"(French), there was a huge "a-ha" moment and that really kept me going.

  2. The way the Russian tree is structured is IMO different from other trees that I encountered, in that, you might encounter grammar that won't be explained until a later skill. So when you are doing this skill, some part of the sentences could be very baffling. What I do is to focus on the grammar introduced in the current skill, while keeping the other parts as immersion; That way way you actually get to the later skill, you would have a lot of immersion experience to help you understand the grammar.

Bottom line, I think all you have to do is to hang in there, study daily and keep the faith that it will all make sense later. Hope this helps and good luck !

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126
Theron126
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Maybe you should look at it differently. Because nobody else without previous experience in Russian has finished the tree yet, you shouldn't feel like you ought to be finishing soon either. It's normal to struggle at first. And after several months more too... :-( I think in any language, unless you're one of those lucky people who just learn languages really easily, you're bound to run into trouble at some point. If you don't have the determination to push through that, you're probably never going to learn the language well. That's why I'm not fluent in French.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
flootzavutPlus
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^^^ this.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/shawnmccormick

Finishing the tree shouldn't be your main concern, it would be to keep the motivation up in order to keep practicing and reviewing words regularly. Keep doing that, and you will have no more issues speaking any language you set out to learn than those who studied it prior to completing the duolingo course!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/an_alias
an_alias
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THIS! I see so many posts in other languages "Oh I finished the tree! It's not guilded (meaning I haven't bothered to refresh, reinforce, long-term learn anything, I just powered my way through thanks to hover hints!)"

If you want to actually learn the language, take the time it takes for you to do so. If you want to compete with people, this is not the place. If you want to cheat the learning system here for competition there are so many ways to do so.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lynnda45
Lynnda45
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I have finished the Russian tree. I am currently redoing a lot of exercises, trying to get everything gold/yellow.

I found the course very hard. I was unfamiliar with the Russian alphabet. And halfway the "listening" exercises were so long it was nearly impossible for me to write every word correctly. I felt completely stuck. So it was driving me crazy and I decided to finish the tree before 2015 ended. I succeeded (on 31 december) and now I am not so stuck anymore.

I am still unsure about a lot of the grammer, but redoing the exercises does help. I also just took a progress test which shows that I am improving, even though I still feel like I barely know this language.

So keep going!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/viO2e8
viO2e8
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Hello, this is my first time studying Russian I haven't finished the tree either, so it's not quite what you're asking, but I'm finding it quite a hard learning curve too! I'm having to take it much slower than French, which I haven't really studied before either. So don't worry, it's not just you, but I'm sure we're get there eventually!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/stephapus
stephapus
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I don't think other people's progress should be what you base your language learning progress on; everyone has a difference pace of learning, different levels + exposures of prior knowledge, and different strengths and weaknesses overall. (for example, their Russian could be really strong, but your French skills may be stronger than theirs! :) )

I finished the German tree with no prior knowledge or experience with the language before without any issues (which, in the following year, made taking an introductory German course at my university very easy); I think that you'll do just as well as long as you persevere! :)

Also: as shawnmccormick advised, keep your main goal of learning the language in sight rather than completing the tree - after all, Duolingo's main purpose is to help you learn the language, the game-like XP and levelling up etc. format is only really to keep you motivated in practicing more often.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slatour
slatourPlus
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Ask again in 2017 when I have finished the tree. :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MikeyRadles

Hello! I am just approaching about halfway through the course, and I started completely from scratch after learning the Cyrillic alphabet on Memrise. May I recommend that you take it very slowly and use the "Strengthen your skills" button a lot? By repeating what one has already learnt really frequently, you can at least be sure that you genuinely know what you're supposed to know rather than fooling yourself as to the extent of your progress. I am, of course (being only half way through the course) no expert on the Russian language, but I'm having a blooming good time learning a language that I'm increasingly beginning to see as beautiful; a feeling I previously thought I could or would only ever reserve for English. At the same time, despite the fact that I always considered myself open-minded, I am now realising that perhaps I was wrong. Learning a new language really opens your mind as it allows you to think in new ways and understand those from different backgrounds to you so much more. And, I don't know how old you are, or your life's direction, but think (should you ever achieve fluency) what a marvellous gift to your future children! You could save them the trouble of learning all this endless Russian grammar simply by speaking to them in Russian as well as English as they grow up, thus providing them with a skill so valuable they'll never need to suffer the horror of a pitifully poorly-paid paper round to pay for their increasingly expensive education. Plus you'll prove yourself one of the heroic few who stuck it out to the very end, when all others suffocated in a myriad of declensions and conjugations. What greater motivation could you possibly need?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lifepuzzler
lifepuzzler
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I just finished the tree today and I both didn't know the Cyrillic alphabet before starting and have no experience with other slavic languages. I started pretty much right when beta was released, and I've probably spent at least an hour a day on most days studying Russian since then. I think one of the key things that has helped has been using resources outside of Duolingo. In particular, I probably completed about 40% of the tree just since 2016 started, and this is largely because over my winter break where I didn't have internet access, I started working through an actual Russian book (this one, which I highly recommend: http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Penguin-Russian-Course/dp/0140120416). I worked through about half of the book over the break, and this material mainly reviewed what I had learned in less depth through the tree. However, it really solidified my knowledge of the grammar, and since coming back I've been able to breeze through the tree (relative to before).

I think there's a point where the grammar begins to click and you remember most of the case endings more naturally. When that happens, completing the tree just becomes a matter of how many lessons you feel like doing in a day. Starting out, I felt like I wasn't retaining anything and constantly had to peek to get the right endings to words. I'd say by the third checkpoint when all of the cases have been covered, a good systematic review of the grammar to internalize it is enough to make the rest of the tree a lot easier than the beginning was.

Best of luck! And as other people have said, don't feel like completing the tree is the main goal. There's so much more to studying the language, and finishing the tree has really just felt like the beginning.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a
annika_a
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Congratulations!

I'd say by the third checkpoint when all of the cases have been covered, a good systematic review of the grammar to internalize it is enough to make the rest of the tree a lot easier than the beginning was.

Boy, is this a nice thing to read! In my other trees, the difficulty was turned up a notch or two around the last check point. It felt like this probably because complex grammar (the subjunctive, for example) was introduced with quite few lessons to practice it, and because the late vocabulary skills were very long and tedious. So I was quite worried about how this tree would feel at that point, seeing that it's felt challenging almost from the start.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lifepuzzler
lifepuzzler
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Yeah, I don't want to speak for everybody, but I thought the grammar introduced closer to the end (imperatives, future, verbs of motion, etc.) was easier than getting the hang of the case system. It helps that the future and subjunctive don't require learning more conjugation! I think the tree was really well-designed in terms of getting the grammatical concepts that require more raw memorization out of the way earlier.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
flootzavutPlus
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I felt like the structure made more sense than the structure of my uni Russian course, to be honest!! Kudos to team Russian.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/an_alias
an_alias
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That's interesting to hear. I haven't taken a formal language class since high school French (none of your business how long ago). Though I have no baseline to judge, I feel like this Russian course has a pretty logical and comprehensive (as much as it can be without getting ridiculous) progression - and I like that they throw us some complex, new sentences on review.

The team building this definitely did a good job.

A bit ago I decided to check out the Spanish DL course for grins because I did some Pimsleur stuff with that. I can't tell if Spanish is just that much easier or if the course is just tediously redundant and focused on simplistic vocab. Either way, as much as I struggle with it sometimes, I'm finding the Russian course much more enjoyable and challenging.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Theron126
Theron126
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I second that recommendation for the New Penguin course.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/XYZ1992

thanks everyone for the encouraging words!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/celia575431
celia575431
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I am struggling too! It is hard, but the sense of achievement when I eventually get something right keeps me going. I am taking it very slowly, so as to learn thoroughly and want to do the next lesson - just a few minutes each day. One day I will visit Russia and I will speak Russian... that's what keeps me going. What is your motivation for learning the language? By the way, I did do some Russian at school but believe me, it was so very very long ago I really did start from scratch! Good luck

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gingerninja3148

I agree with everyone in the comments. Russian is quite a challenging language so most beginners who are learning it on Duolingo will just be going through it slowly to make sure it all sinks in. There is no point rushing through the tree to say you have finished it only to realise you don't know anything. It is also quite a long tree. However, due to its difficulty and length, when you finish the tree, it will be a huge accomplishment. Until then just study hard and keep at it! I haven't done Russian for a long time but plan to restart the tree next week. I hope to finsih it by the end of this year.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/btaylor79
btaylor79
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I agree that Russian is a challenge and the tree does seem to be formatted differently than the other courses I am familiar with. I finally decided to follow the suggestion to study the alphabet on memrise and it has made a big difference for me. I have had a lot of similar moments that nitedemon describes above in regards to words "sounding" very similar to English, French, or Spanish, but looking so different given the alphabet. Hang in there. This has been my most enjoyable week of Russian now that I have a better understanding of the alphabet.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/yipivan
yipivan
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As a Hongkonger, I find Russian very difficult.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ecclemain

This is correct.

Russian is a hard language for those who don't knows a Slavic language so if you really want to learn Russian, you must be prepared to spend some time taking knowledge in the idiom. But this idiom is very beautiful and has lots of history and literature, so i think that worths the risk :D

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Shadd518
Shadd518
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One thing that I've found that helps me get through it a little easier is making sure I keep everything gold. Before I start a brand new lesson, I go back and review the ones that have gotten "weak". It helps not only to kind of serve as a warm up, but also helps with the new lessons. I spend about an hour a day studying, and I'm just at the second checkpoint, but I feel like what I HAVE gotten to sticks a little better, and I feel that will help me more in the future. I also see it as a challenge or puzzle I just have to solve. I love stuff like that lol

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/an_alias
an_alias
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I don't mean to be a jerk (which, yes, often means people totally mean to be. But this time I promise I don't) but - why are you learning Russian?

Your profile says "for fun" but this post seems like you're treating it as a competitive sort of thing.

If you really are learning it for fun (as I am) then what do you care about how fast or slow others have completed the tree? Learn it, and really learn it, at your own pace.

Not sure it helps since I haven't completed it. I have zero slavic language background. Am actually monolingual (English). I am just shy of the last section in the tree. But it's a big section.

But my focus is on learning. So I make an effort to keep everything gilded, though I may snatch a new lesson even if things or not, the tree does NOT stay unguilded for more than 3 days. Because I want to learn the language, not just complete a tree.

But I also use other things. Memrise (top 10,000 russian words), the Penguin book, to name a few.

But there are also other resources that aren't present here but may help you. DL isn't timed, so you can reference a chart or something to help you figure things out. I feel it's not cheating if you sort it out on your own, even if you have to reference a chart to begin with.

Noun Declension Charts

Adjective Information

Prefixes which will help you suss out the meanings of new words

Russian Morphology - if you run into a word you're not sure of. It's incomplete, yandex can help with the base word but this will give you all forms of many words.

Good luck!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/xaghtaersis
xaghtaersis
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Well I fit in group D then: the people who tried learning Ukrainian on duolingo a bit before Russian hit beta. Well it did help a little but Russian helps a loooooot more with my Ukrainian soon when I am going to finish and regild that Ukrainian tree. Russian can be pretty challenging. I really enjoy it though and I will just keep on going.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PsychoDad
PsychoDad
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I finished it. I haven't mastered it, a task on which I'm still working, but I did finish it.

I figure mastery will be the task of years. But then, I don't have a deadline.

For motivation, after finishing the tree, treat yourself to reading elementary texts in Russian (from, e.g., a textbook), and being gratified that you can understand them. Maybe not chapter and verse, but barring the occasional word, you understand them.

6 months ago