How long it took you to understand it?
I recently watched an amazing Russian Movie called "Admiral". It was very well done and engaging.
Anyway, i tried to watch it without subtitles. When that didn't work I put on Russian subtitles so it wrote down what they said.
How long did it take you guys to start understanding what people actually say? For me it's still difficult to understand spoken Russian?
I'm not there yet either. I started Russian when the course came out and hoped to be able to understand it within a year. I have failed to meet that goal partly because I find reading it fast enough to keep up with speech more difficult than I expected which scuppers my usual method of gaining listening comprehension. I am currently taking a detour through Polish in the hope that learning one slavic language will give me a leg up with Russian (but am falling in love with Polish in its own right too). It took me 18 months to understand German which was my first foreign language. It currently looks as if Russian will take me at least as long.
For me at least, still definitely a work in progress. I probably haven't spent as much time with understanding speech as I should have. I watched (some of) Russian Ark with the subtitles on. It seemed, very, very roughly, that I understood the words I knew. However, it was obvious that I needed to know a lot more.
I still understand Romance languages I've never studied more easily than I understand Russian :(
But English is my native language. Were I a Slavic native, I figure that the same sort of common (if obscured) vocab base that lets me understand large chunks of Italian would eventually kick in strongly to your side in understanding Russian.
My mother and grandmother are native speakers, so I get more chances to hear Russian, and I'm starting to understand enough to figure out the subject and a lot of common words. I tried watching children cartoons in Russian and it's fine for now- they speak slower than normal so I've got time to understand and try to translate words. I'm only a few months on it now, so I think it's mostly listening as much as possible. I've still got a long way to go but it's really fun to get into a discussion when the speakers didn't think you understood them...
I find coping with the range of accents difficult. Some people I understand much better than others. I try to watch a Russian film at least once a month. When I stopped for a while, I found my aural comprehension deteriorated badly.
I agree with your approach of watching without subtitles first - I always find reading easier than listening (even in my native language, at times!) so they distract me. I try to pick action films. They are not my favourite genre, but it makes for simpler conversations. I follow it as much as I can on the visuals plus what I can hear said, then rewatch it with a subtitle translation up, to clarify (or, if none are available, contact the friend who recommended that film and get them to explain!)
I think this is something that just comes with practice. If you can find someone who's willing to be patient with you and speak Russian at a level you can understand but just pushing you a little out of your comfort zone, that will improve your understanding in leaps and bounds, in my experience :)