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Major wall with Russian

Since Duolingo switched to not allowing the Roman alphabet with Russian, I have mostly hit a wall. I was doing pretty well and learned to listen and speak fairly well for being at level 8 and all. Without being able to read the Cyrillic alphabet, I can no longer move forward or even strengthen lessons I've previously completed. While I really enjoy Duolingo for the great learning tool it is, I'm not finding much luck in the ways of learning the Cyrillic alphabet. Does anybody have any advice for learning and mastering it? Once I have, I'd like to come back and pick up where I left off here.

note: I needed to learn to speak Russian for a facet of my job. It was not necessary that I learn to read it or write it, but I can see it's use and would like to learn that aspect for fun, and to possibly augment my career on top of what's needed.

June 29, 2017



Here's something one of the course creators helpfully linked to in one of the many threads on this: http://i.imgur.com/4XoD7Ic.png

And here's a game form: https://glossika.com/fun-stuff/russian-alphabet-game/starting


Actually, I would happily update the table with more dialect-independent sounds if I still had the source ;)


OK, here is the worksheet with a number of corrections. It should work for most English speakers now.

Read Russian v02



OK, I could already read cyrillic letters before this course, so this may not be the best advice, but the Memrise Russian for Duolingo course seems great for supplementing this one - i.e. it's helping me to spell properly :). If you need Russian for work, you'll only be better if you learn to read.


If you need Russian for work, you'll only be better if you learn to read.

That is not entirely true. Imagine you have a lot of Russian speakers around, your goal being to be able to talk to them, or you are a linguist who has to work with dozens of languages. I actually see why you might want to focus on the sound and skip the writing.

However, the ease of such approach backfires as soon as the learner reaches the limits of their knowledge. Dictionaries and most teaching materials use Cyrillics, naturally. And... frankly, I do not see how a non-native speaker improves their grammar and vocabulary without books.


You've just proven my point :). If you want to get beyond the very basics in a language with a different alphabet, you'll reach a point where you really struggle to improve if you haven't taken the initial hours to learn the new alphabet. Learning to read letters in another alphabet is not as hard as most people think, while trying to pronounce properly while reading another language transliterated into English ends up being harder in a way because then you have to guess how to spell and pronounce in this additional made-up language - I've had Arabic teachers try this and it was awful.


Try YouTube, here's one: www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhrSpf8kaqQ

I would strongly recommend watching a video about how to write by hand in Russian. Then, try to keep a notebook, writing down all new words and phrases.


I attest to what Kinglie said about matching the alphabet song. I also practiced writing first names for a long time, as they're short, easier and less intimidating than dialogue to practice with. It worked great for getting comfortable with the characters, I'd write slowly enough to speak the name of the letter and the latin equivalent (if one applied) or spoke the sound. Hope this helps!


My ganky old laptop allows me to switch between US Intl and Cyrillic keyboards very easily, now I've tweaked it in the settings. Still, trying to type in Cyrillic actually prevented me from making any progress for WEEKS -- until.... drumroll.... I bought little stickers that go on my laptop keys. They've got both the "standard" US letters/symbols as well as the Cyrillic. You can find various kinds on Amazon for less than $10.

Seriously, all it really takes is just to keep doing it. Push through typing Cyrillic and the language itself starts to make more sense. Not entirely (my goodness, this language has like 4 ways to say о and 4 ways to say ы, and the natives all insist they're being consistent -- ha! hardly)... but it's doable.

tl;dr : As somebody who started on the Roman alphabet and then switched to Cyrillic: Switching alphabets can be done. It is worth it. Get the stickers. Profit.


Okay, so my process for learning Cyrillic was a bit confusing to explain haha. Basically, I listened to the alphabet song a couple of times, found letters that were the same and kept those in mind, then started to try recalling the entire thing from memory at random times during the day. Of course, at the beginning I would only get the ones that I could identify easily. After jotting down as many letters as I could I would count them, and if I was shy from 33 I'd check a picture of the entire alphabet to see which ones I skipped. Over time, I got it complete and then worked on my order. Also, while I was still just starting to learn it I would write out words in English by using the Cyrillic letters to build the association in my mind.

This is the alphabet song video I used on YouTube at the beginning. It's kinda stupid, as expected for a kids' song, but I like that it provides the letters in small sections which is helpful when it comes to building those recall skills. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHYE0zXxwGo

This site is also very, very helpful in explaining the alphabet. http://www.russianlessons.net/lessons/lesson1_main.php


Some tactics:

The Memrise course especially helped me learn the alphabet. Honestly, once you learn the alphabet, you can pretty much read anything. (barring where the accent in the word is, anyway). Good luck!


What I did might be little ghetto, but it worked for me. I just used the Wikipedia article on the Russian alphabet, jotting down all the letters and their sounds. Then I practiced learning those letters by transcribing English words into the Cyrillic alphabet. By doing that, I had it down in just a few days. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_alphabet


For me, the Cyrillic Alphabet is super easy for a Latin-based reader to learn (English uses the Latin Alphabet). Once you familiarize yourself with the letters we never see (Ф, Д), then just learn to adapt to reading similar looking letters differently (Н, Р). Honestly though, the best thing for me in learning Cyrillic was just reading it and learning the language at the same time. I mastered Cyrillic within a few days of starting the Russian course (typing, on the other hand, is much harder to master).

And to help you practice with your Cyrillic, here is the previous paragraph in Cyrillic English! Note, the English TH is being written ть and the Russian Х is representing the letter H. There are also two SH sounds in Russian. Щ is more similar to English SH, so I used that one.

Фор ме, тье сириллик алфабэт из супер езей фор а Латин-басд редер ту лерн (Инглищ юзез тье Латин Алфабэт). Вансе ю фамилиаризе юрсэлф вить тье леттерз ве невер сее, тьен джуст лерн ту адапт ту рединг симилар лоокинг леттерз дифферентлий. Хонестлий тьоу, тье бест тьинг фор ме ин лернинг сириллик ваз джуст рединг ит анд лернинг тье лангуадже ат тье сайм тайм. Ай мастерд сириллик витьин а фю дайз оф стартинг тье Ращан корс (тайпинг, он тье отьер ханд, из мач хардэер ту мастер).


th - ть??? this is very strange. th is sounds between з and ф. Many Russians pronounce it as "з" (z)

"Фо ми, зе сириллик алфабет из супер изи фо Латин-бэйсед ридер ту лёрн (Инглиш юзез зе Латин Алфабет)"


I do agree with you, and your transcription actually better reflects the way a Russian would pronounce this sentence (you also found some vowels that I originally transcribed wrong).

That wasn't really the intent of this though. Take it with a grain of salt. It wasn't supposed to be a better way of writing English, rather, it was just meant to give learners a way to practice reading and sounding out Cyrillic.

The best thing for you to do, as said before, is to learn Russian in Cyrillic and become accustomed to the letters as you learn. But I thought I would volunteer a fun little exercise for you to sound out the letters.

Someone, when learning Cyrillic, might have to look up the pronunciation of Международный, but if they see the word Интэрнашонал, they can pronounce it correctly, not second guessing themselves. Then, when it comes to reading a foreign word, life can be much easier.

But the system is flawed from the beginning, and I believe English works best with Latin. However, I do think all Slavic languages work better with the Cyrillic alphabet (which is why reading Polish is such a pain).


The letters that look and sound the same are "AKMOT" (or someone else said "TOM KAT") ;)

Beyond that, I first started to grasp it through a book that started with names containing each letter. Since they're pronounced about the same regardless, they were more familiar and copying down the names in Cyrillic helped some.


Here’s YouTube channel about Russian language: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=D4aQxPdh--4


There's a free app by Russian Made Easy which is entirely devoted to learning the Cyrillic alphabet. It's titled like '3 Hour Cyrillic', and it really helped me a lot by providing real life examples, useful vocabulary, and also just a really easy approach to it. I'd also say listening to a variety of words over and over, and then trying to repeat them out really helped me with putting the letters and sounds together. Whilst I'm still early in my studies, and so trip up a lot, these approaches have both really helped me and made the process a lot less daunting. Testing yourself by looking at words, trying to sound them out, and then having google translate or whatever read them to you as a means of correction can help a lot too. Learn the alphabet in the context of words rather than as individual letters was good too. I struggled a lot when attempting to learn them on their own, but actually learning them in the context of words helped a lot


Learning cyrillic is good bro

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