How to remember Russian words when I'm learning?

So I am new to learning Russian, and it's normal I suppose to memorize the English way of saying a Russian word (for example, spasiba for спасибо), in the early stages, but that's not how it should work in the long run, obviously. I have to be able to spell and think out the Russian word, instantly. For example, when I think of an apple, the letters a-p-p-l-e automatically forms into my head into the word "apple". It's like seeing a picture, and it's right there in my head instantly just as I think and type down these English words. But I'm having difficultly doing this to Russian words (don't even get me started on the longer words, haha!). For now, I have to sound/write/think out each letter that makes up a word in Russian. Any one with advice on how to just automatically think of the letters when thinking of a word? Like a picture, it's almost as if you don't even have to think about it (yet you do) and it just appears in your head.

I hope I made sense with what I said....

February 9, 2017


Try getting a Букварь - a book for children to learn how to read and the alphabet. I think this is what your asking. :)

February 9, 2017

I think this is a pretty common problem for any different alphabet/writing system and for better or worse the answer is probably repetition. Your example of a-p-p-l-e works in English because you have seen those letters and said those sounds so many times in your life. You have probably even seen the specific combination a few hundred or few thousand times. It will have to be the same with the Cyrillic alphabet.

I think that your example also might give a hint at how to go about it though. As someone has pointed out here, when children are first learning, they are given words that start with the letter/sound and go from there. I would suggest the same with Russian/Cyrillic. Find a few words, likely shorter simple ones, for each letter. Eventually it will stick.

FWIW, this is all just my take and is not anything based in linguistics. I finished the Russian tree late last year, but many of the words are just starting to take better hold now. I'm doing the "reverse" tree (RU-EN) and it seems to be getting easier with SOME of the words. Longer strings of characters are still tough.

February 10, 2017

Wow, I'm still on the basics section of the Russian tree... How are you with Russian? What other resources have you used? I am quite serious with learning Russian, I know it's hard but I have a goal to reach "fluency" (harder to do since I don't live there) within a span of 2-5+ years

February 10, 2017

Oh, I'm still really terrible, even after 6-8 months. I've "mastered" maybe 200 words at a minimum and 400 or 500 hundred at a maximum, but it probably depends on definition of mastery. Some I can say, some I can spell, some I can read ... the 200-400 number encompasses those that I can do all three (or at least come really close on spelling). I can read a bit more than that. And my strongest vocabulary is a group of random words, like "where", "apple", "chair", "work", etc.

Russian seems much harder than Romance or Germanic languages, because of the alphabet difference, but it's not impossible. You are concentrating on it, which will be a big advantage. I also haven't used other resources either. If you are serious, there are tons of good suggestions on the Russian threads here for outside help (music, tv, etc.). Lean on those learners that came before you ;)

Good luck and here are some lingots to get started!

February 10, 2017

спасибо ! I also have school and other commitments, but I can still manage to spend time studying this language per week. Definitely a challenge!

February 13, 2017

А, Б, В, Г, Д, Е, Ё, Ж, З, И, Й, К, Л, М, Н, О, П, Р, С, Т, У, Ф, Х, Ц, Ч, Ш, Щ, Ъ, Ы, Ь, Э, Ю, Я

February 10, 2017

One of the problems I have with memorizing words is that they do change based on the case, so the shape of the word changes. So apple does not always look like apple. яблоко, яблоки, яблочный, яблок. I assume there are more, but I am a beginner too.

I found that using the memrise site with the duolingo Russian with full audio and just drilling, drilling, drilling it into my brain works for me. большое спасибо cherub721 and shady_arc!!!!

My spelling in English is horrid too, so I need the endless repetition to learn. I just purchased a Cyrillic keyboard, since my posture is becoming bad from poking at my touchscreen keyboard. That is how much I need to practice before I absorb the spelling.

February 12, 2017

oh man... i haven't even gotten to the cases yet. still working on learning the basics and common phrases/vocab in Russian.. lol

February 13, 2017

I know exactly how you feel. As others have said, it'll come down to constant practice. I take classes and only recently started using duolingo as a source of practice, but ever since starting I've surprised myself with how much easier it has become to read in Russian. With the constant repetition you start to pick up on patterns and become familiar with the different sounds of the letters and 'shapes/looks' of words, so even when they change slightly based on a case, you're still able to identify the word, if that makes sense.

All that being said, I suck at spelling in general so bumping into something like -> "ь" really makes spelling even trickier for me lol. As a fellow novice in the language I wish you the best of luck with it, keep tackling it and you'll get where you want to be.

February 16, 2017
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