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German and (then) Russian

I am working on German, and feel I am making good progress. However, my next target in the language arena would be Russian. My question is: at what point is it advisable to begin looking into Russian? I am not a "must take all the trees" person...I sincerely want to have a good understanding and eventual use of each language I study. German and Russian have the most direct impact on my career choices (and then Chinese), hence the list. Should I finish the German tree, or is there a generally accepted point where an additional language is not too...confusing?


June 14, 2016



I think the most effective thing is to get your German to the level that allows you to comfortably consume native materials like books and media. This is not as hard as you may think. Generally, a B1-B2 level in reading and listening level is enough. At that point, you can continue "practicing" German in your leisure time and devote your active study time entirely to Russian.

Of course, it's ultimately up to you. You probably know how you personally learn best, but focusing on one language at a time will allow you to make faster progress. I find that helps me maintain my enthusiasm.

Whatever you decide, good luck!

June 14, 2016


I am a native Russian speaker. I will try to explain things based on foreigners I know who studied Russian and personal observations, but take it with a grain of salt.

First of all, about learning another Slavic languages instead - it is viable choice, some of these might be easier, but learning is learning, they all have pretty similar grammar and you would have to invest hundreds of hours in it in any case.

However, you don't learn languages in vacuum - I learn(ed) English, German and French, and know how hard it is for the latter two compared to English. A very important part of language learning is CONTENT.

There are many easily obtainable good books (how about reading "Crime and Punishment" and "War and Peace" in the original? ;)) and movies which would help you with learning, and some TV-series (though these are generally much, much worse than American TV series).

Also a lot of potential practice. Russian-speakers are usually bad in English (IIRC Russia is one of the least English-speaking countries on Earth) which in your case is a plus. There are a lot of internet resources in Russian, simply because not many people know English good enough. If you would say your professional occupation, I maybe could give you some useful URLs for the future use.

Then, duolingo is not a comprehensive language tool - it takes you only to B1 or so. You need to learn language from other sources, too.

I'd advice starting with Russian only after you are confident in your German, e.g. if you can read an average German Wikipedia page without pain and watch a German TV news block with mostly understanding it.

Now about actually learning Russian - I'd suggest not paying much attention to grammar. I see it in many foreigners, they are worried too much about the "complex" Russian grammar and it slows down their progress.

You don't NEED perfect grammar to being able to express yourself and understand another language. It is better to have bigger vocabulary and be more fluent than to have excellent grammar, in my opinion.

Also don't mind the alphabet - it is easy to learn when you start using it.

June 16, 2016


I can only say that from personal experience, learning German has taken all that I've got in me for the past year and a half. I can't imagine seriously undertaking another language, and I am living in Germany and studying for a minimum of 3 hours per day, 7 days a week. The question is: how comfortable are you now with your German? Have you had conversations in German yet? Can you read from children's books? Can you watch a movie in German with German subtitles? Are you quite comfortable with all four cases and the various complexities involved with that (declensions, adjective endings, etc.) ?

If the answer is an easy "yes" to all those questions, I say why not dabble in another language if you are not in a rush to fine-tune your German. On the other hand, learning a language takes a ❤❤❤❤ ton of time, and if you want to speak fluently and intelligently in any language, you have to focus on that goal. Just like playing musical instruments: you could learn "Mary had a little lamb" on the piano and then learn how to play a few chords on a guitar, then move to the violin for a few months.

But in the end, all you'd be left with are little pieces from each skill and no real deep-down knowledge of any of them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that of course, if that is what you wish to achieve. A lot of people do this who travel often and just wish to confidently and comfortably say basic set phrases to the locals, but as we all know that is very far from knowing a language. If the local replies, this type of learner generally turns sheepish and quickly and awkwardly switches to their mother tongue. It is indeed a nice gesture on the learner's part, but produces no opportunity for deeper connections. This learning is undergone "to get by", to be polite, or to impress. Real learning and real knowing requires thousands of hours of active practice and application. Unless of course you are a genius Polyglot who can learn an entire language from scratch in 3 months. In that case--I hate you! ;-)

Ich wünsche dir viel Spaß und Erfolg beim Sprachenlernen.

mit freundlichen Grüßen aus Berlin,


June 14, 2016


Just wondering - are a native English speaker and is German your first foreign language?

June 17, 2016


I am exactly the same!

June 15, 2016


If you're serious about learning theses languages, then I would advise for your German basis to be solidly implanted in your head before starting a new language. I won't take that much time - perhaps six months or so. Then, go for Russian, and after another six month, Chinese. Those three languages are not closely related, so there will be very little chances of mix-up.

June 15, 2016
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