Having Trouble Memorizing Russian Vocab〜

As title says, I am finding it difficult to memorize Russian vocabulary. Do any of my fellow Russian learners have any tips/strategies that you have found helpful throughout your learning?

Thanks !

April 3, 2018


It's been said often that repetition is what makes it work. But I'd like to add too - as many people will point out, that it's so much easier to remember a phrase or a sentence rather than individual words on their own. A phrase / sentence is useful, and has a somewhat more concrete meaning. A word is ... just a word.

From own experience, I tried one day to memorize a bunch of vegetable / fruit names from Youtube. I replayed the video many times and even tried writing them down and repeating them through a list... failed miserably. Or I just don't eat enough fruits and vegetables.

April 3, 2018

vodka. lots and lots of vodka.

...also you might find these old threads helpful:

core concepts / generally useful words:

trouble memorizing:

help with cases:

trouble memorizing 2:

i'm not learning russian so i can't help too much personally, but i will say while learning greek (different alphabet ofc) i found it helpful to start off by reviewing the alphabet before every learning session. this helped me familiarize myself with the greek letters which is a big part of memorization, at least for me. take it slow and don't worry too much - learning languages with a different script is always difficult at first.

April 3, 2018

Haha thanks ! I'm a bit young to drink.....but I find the links very useful , thanks !

April 3, 2018

How old are you ?

June 11, 2018

Smart kid lol

June 5, 2019

Some things that helped for me:

Memrise's Russian courses. There's a series of seven courses made by the Memrise team. I've completed six of them and found the seventh unnecessary since it's all vocabulary on Duolingo.

Make some Tinycards decks (or use existing ones). Gather vocab about any subject and make a deck out of them. The subject can be anything from breakfast foods to words you find while consuming Russian media. And, on the subject of Russian media...

Use Russian media to your advantage. At your level, most texts online will likely be too hard, but once you're more advanced you can scour Russian news articles, song lyrics, and websites for lots of vocabulary.

If you need to memorize case declensions, make a chart of them. I made one at around the same time of making a guide for how to use the cases. Search up some Russian case declension charts and use those to make one big chart.

Удачи with your Russian studies! It's hard in the beginning, but it gets easier as you make more progress. In my experience, the more vocabulary you learn, the easier it becomes to retain new vocab. Also, seeing as you study French, you'd be glad to know that French has had some influence on Russian. You'll find some direct loanwords or cognates, and similar concepts. Use those to help you remember vocab more easily. ;)

April 3, 2018

Wow these are great tips ! Thanks !

April 3, 2018

Reading. Lots and lots of reading. If you are learning from English, Russian at least has the advantage that a ton of graded readers, bilingual books, and other such material for learners was published in the second half of the twentieth century.

Use all different parts of your brain.

Learn to type in Russian and type all the stuff you read.

Learn to write longhand in Russian and write out the stuff you read too.

Use Readlang, and type in short stories that you have read rather than using copy-and-paste or the web reader. And then of course practice your favorite vocabulary words from what you've read.

Listen, when possible, and repeat out loud.

April 3, 2018

Yeah, I agree, I am sequentially checking out as many Russian toddler books from my library as I can.
It's funny because I can imagine going back to school and doing the annual "how many books did you read over the summer" in English class and not technically being able to count any of them because it's English class.

July 21, 2019

Hi !

I've been learning russian on Duolingo for a few months, from scratch. As other people have already suggested, I use Tinycards and Memrise. On the first one, I complete every decaying set to the max every day on the lessons I've already done on Duolingo. On the second website I only go from time to time, especially for "speed review" mode (and because the cards are less confusing and of better quality).

I had a lot of trouble at first to remember the words, and the first lessons with all the hello/goodbye stuff are, imho, among the most difficult to memorize, because of their long complicated words and expressions. Also, it gets easier over time when you can link words to each other. Once you know the root word for a concept, you get every derived nouns and adjectives as a bonus.

April 3, 2018

Thank you !!

April 3, 2018

Hey Camille! Like I suggested to Alexander, to you also I suggest the "before bed cram": Collect 20-30 words for every week to learn. Write them on flashcards and go through them before you go to sleep. It is not as hard as it sounds. You can also recite those in the shower. That is the key to seizing your free moments. Also, you can put labels all over every common item, or something that jogs your memory. It works...I did it for Spanish!! Try to look around you as much as possible when you are out, and find the Russian words for the things and phrases for the people. I think you would also enjoy making phrases for other people ;))). If right then you don't know the word, jot down the word in English and then find out later and put it on your list. Also, try to find mnemonics for the words!!

But the biggest way to keep words fresh in your memory is to use them. You need to overstretch your abilities in order to grow them. So don't stick with sentences that you are comfortable with only, but reach further and find out why things are how they are. And we will help you any time!!

And the most important way to find words common to English and Russian is to master Cyrillic. If you can read it, you can say it! Also, you can find a Russian book and read through it phonetically and find words you are interested in, and write them down. Find out, and let them stick with you for the next time! It is stacking with words, not replacing. That is how I keep them all in there. And soon enough, they become automatic and make room for even more words!

(As for books I know a few good children's tales in Russian and I can send the PDF to you.)

Best of luck in Russian, удачи!

April 3, 2018

Thank you Lauriana ! These are great tips !

April 3, 2018

The "before bed cram" sounds interesting... I might try it out. Thanks for sharing your advice!

April 3, 2018

Any time, both of you! I enjoy these questions :D.

April 3, 2018

can you please post the children's tales in Russian you mentioned? thanks

April 11, 2018

I'm not a consistent Duolingo user but i realized that aiming for at least 50+ xp via Strengthen skills helps me retain the words I've just learned and reinforces the ones I've learned in the past...CW~

April 4, 2018

Hi) I have silly advice, but it helped me to memorize English words (they can be difficult too)) and cut some corners) When I look at new word, I try to find a word in my language which sound like it. For example, "glass" in English sounds like "глаз" in Russian (it is eye). Then I need to imagine "glass eye" and remember this association. With "puddle" (лужа) I need to imagine any wet situation and how I fall down (падать) and so on...
It helped me a lot with very difficult words. I hope this can help you too. Good luck!

April 3, 2018

Then I need to imagine "glass eye" and remember this association.

That's also how I remembered "глаз"! :)

April 3, 2018

That works!!))

April 3, 2018

hi Camille, less to add, all requires a hard work, repeat the alphabet so many times as you need, and more, until the firs checkpoint is "easy", the second is not too hard, between that and the third is the relly hard part, after that all becomes easier...

in russian there is no articles and you will find out many words sounds the same to other languages so, after the first panic, you will see there is no reason for that and how satisfying is to understand to russians, very good people.

April 4, 2018

I need to see the word , soy I write it down several times. Sometimes I don't remember the sound but remember the letters . Maybe you are like me :)

April 5, 2018
Learn Russian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.