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is this normal?

Is this normal? I can understand most sentences I hear(based on the things I've learned so far) But I don't seem to remember how to say them. Is it normal to understand before your able to speak that language?

March 27, 2018



That's absolutely normal.

It's called "passive" vs "active" knowledge.

Even in your own language, you understand many words that you never use when you speak.

Or you can recognise, follow and understand a demonstration in geometry but not re-doing it.

Or you recognize a friend but you are unable to describe him precisely, let alone draw his picture.

The first stage of knowledge is always "passive" : you recognize things. Only later you will become able to use them in the same context ("active"), and even later, use them in a different context. It's only at this stage that you may say that you "know" something.


thank you SO much that really makes me feel a lot better. I was really frustrated because it seemed that everything that I was learning was going in one ear and out the other. Thank you! :)


I have found I can remember vocabulary words better when I can connect the sound of the word and the spelling. So I have been making some video flashcards. I think they are helping. On the other hand babysitting a 2 year old in a Russian speaking household is VERY helpful. She is gaining on me however. By the way I know there are errors in these videos. I am getting better making them, but the way I do it is very tedious.



Yea that is very normal it takes way longer to learn to talk i could read after a month of studying but i can't talk in russan and i can only say a few things in spanish


yeah, makes sense! THank you so much!


i have the same problem, i can understand what ive learned so far but i cant remember any of it if i was to use it.


yeah, do you have any suggestions about how to fix this problem?


There's really no magical way to improve quickly; it just takes practice. I've heard that the best way to learn a language is to take an extended trip to wherever the language's origin is, and while this isn't always possible, try throwing yourself into situations where you have no choice but to communicate in the language you're learning. Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it :)


thank you! But, I'm only 15 and I can't do either of those things! (Russian isn't very common in America especially Russian ONLY speakers)


You could try finding a Russian grocery store in your area and try ordering in Russian. Even if you aren't in a big city, there may be a pocket of Russian speakers around.


thanks! I'll give it a try!


It is 100% normal to able to read and comprehend things before you can recall and verbally express them fluently.

Especially since the lessons tend to focus on a set of words intensely - so during the exercise you will remember what раньше means easily but later you will forget that it means "before."

Or at least I do. As far as recall goes - you just have to drill over and over to get the words down. Tinycards can help a lot here too. One video I saw recommended you write down nouns on post-it notes and leave them around your house! I thought that was clever but I haven't done it.


thank you! I'll give it a try!


I haven't seen that video, but I have actually done that. Various things around the house are labelled in Russian, including the gonk. There is apparently no Russian word for "gonk" (I checked with a native speaker), so it's labelled, in Russian, "fluffy thing".


I am this way as well. It’s part of the learning process. Farther down the road, you’ll get more comfortable with actually creating your own sentences. I am in that boat with Russian as well.


for me, this is absolutely normal, I never had any problem to understand, but to speak... that's an other story

[deactivated user]

    You should listen to things and try to recognize the words and repeat them both in your native language and the one that you are learning, like maybe songs that you like and try to sing along, if you know all the words, or watch a movie in that language and repeat after the peopl when you know the word that's what I do with Swedish right now (I don't understand most of the stuff but it still helps me to just listen to the words being used in a sentence or a conversation or in a song) and that's how I learned English too.

    Also, just practice, focus on a few words and just repeat them out loud throughout the day, replacing certain words like city into город or apple into яблоко.


    I am still very much a beginner in Russian, but I can converse in Spanish, and I think what I learned there can apply to Russian as well.

    You won't learn how to speak until you spend a lot of time speaking. Right now you are spending time training your brain to recognize words. You can see that it is working. So, step 2: Start speaking the words.

    I say all the words and sentences out loud as I work through a lesson. Sometimes, I will also try to imagine a situation where I would use or hear such a word/sentence, and picture it as I say it.

    And, as another commenter said, substitute Russian words whenever you can throughout the day. I talk to myself while I cook, run errands, etc, and use as many target language words as I can. It will be a mix of Russian and your native language at first, but each day you should be able to add more Russian.

    So, start speaking what you know now. It doesn't even have to be whole sentences. And do it every chance you get. You will get stuck, or be stumped many times, but that is the point. That struggle is what teaches your brain that you need these words, and it will find a way to store them for quicker access next time.

    Best wishes on your language journey!


    Yeah I have this problem too, would you like a fellow English speaker who is learning at least a bit of Russian to compare and practice with? :)


    how would we do that?


    What is the easiest method for you?


    I see you are really invested in learning Dutch, my progression in Spanish and Russian is rather slow, but I could definitely assist you with Dutch (and perhaps we could practise Spanish/Russian together too)

    Telegram: @Synominimus


    I'm not sure, any suggestions?


    Separate areas of the brain. This is why it is so important to speak (in our case here, repeat the sentences). You can also record yourself if you are not sure that you get the pronunciation right (very likely the case with Russian). Good luck. Also, if you record the sentences and let them play in the background, you will eventually know them by heart and that will also help.

    Learn Russian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.