How a Ukrainian vlogger unintentionally helped me learn Russian.
...Or, "How I improved my listening comprehension in Russian during this past year."
TL;DR: Skip to the last few paragraphs.
One of my motivations for learning Russian is Russian-language music, specifically MOZGI Entertainment artists (artists in a record label based in Ukraine). Over a year ago, I saw that someone on a Russian sentence discussion posted some lyrics from "Имя 505" and a link to the https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3Go8ub9a1k. Over the next few months, I listened to more of Время и Стекло's songs and started liking them. I love their songs and still listen to all of them, even their lesser-known ones, to this day. And that's how my interest in MOZGI Entertainment and my two favorite duos started (if you're curious, the other one is Potap & Nastya).
What really caught my attention, though, was Nadya Dorofeeva. I'll admit I started having a thing for her soon after finding out about Время и Стекло. Not very long after listening to all of Время и Стекло's songs, Nadya started a vlog. Naturally, I tried watching her first vlog video, but I understood next to nothing due to my inexperience in Russian. After Nadya published several vlog videos, I chose to watch all of them and try to understand something.
I could only catch a few words every minute. Everything else seemed like an unintelligible stream of talking. The only thing that encouraged me was finding out more about Nadya's life. Still, it was frustrating to miss out on so much just because I couldn't understand a thing.
But when I first found out about DoDo Vlog (the name of Nadya's vlog), I knew what I wanted—to understand what Nadya says in her vlog videos. And guess what? Over a year later of watching, I achieved that goal. But how?
At some point in my vlog-watching, I tried to listen more attentively to the vlog videos. I slowed them down, repeated what Nadya said, and replayed parts of videos over and over. I also found out somewhere about a neat trick to improve pronunciation—choose a native speaker of your target language and pretend to be that person. So, in Russian, I talked the way Nadya did, using her same intonation and voice to sound more like a native.
I also listened to Natasha speaks Russian, a great YouTuber for those looking to improve listening comprehension. Later, I tested out my listening skills on this video made by a Russian-speaking Tatar. To my surprise, I understood nearly everything.
What I didn't notice, though, is that I understood a little more each time I watched DoDo Vlog. I gradually improved until a few days ago, while watching Nadya's newest vlog video (keeping an attentive ear out for every time she said "красиво", since she said it several times in the video). It was like my ears had been cleared out for the first time—I understood more than I ever had without slowing down the video once. A few other videos later, I realized, after two years of learning Russian, I could finally hear and understand most (if not nearly everything) of what native/fluent Russian speakers are saying. :) There are some things I can't catch, but I miss some stuff even when listening to my native languages.
So, if you're a Russian learner struggling with listening comprehension, find audio about something you're very interested in. Combining language learning with something you love will keep you motivated and help you learn useful vocabulary—general vocabulary and words that will help you in a conversation with someone who shares your interest. Remember, also, that listening to native speakers is an excellent way to improve intonation and pronunciation!
Now, here's my plan for keeping my listening comprehension at its best:
1) Rewatch all of Nadya's vlog videos to catch everything I missed when first watching them.
2) Watch Nastya Kamenskykh's (another MOZGI Entertainment artist) vlog videos to get exposure to even more Russian speakers.
3) Watch every episode of Liga Smeha, a Russian-language Ukrainian comedy show.
While I'm doing all of that: Talk with native/fluent Russian speakers and fine-tune my ability to distinguish between similar sounds (the A1 course on PushkinOnline helps a lot!).
Of course, I'll continue to expand my knowledge of Russian in other ways, too. My goal is to achieve a B2 level in the language by the end of this year.
For anyone wondering, here is a link to Nadya's vlog: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVAbBvins_GOfl0O7FegnGQ If you end up enjoying her videos, give Nadya lots of love and gratitude. :)
You offer really great learning tips here! One I don't recall encountering before, but that I really like is:
choose a native speaker of your target language and pretend to be that person.
I am now going to do that for Dutch! I've only just started learning the language, so, I'm not sure when I should engage the strategy. How far along were you when you did it?
Usagi! :) I didn't know you checked the Russian forums, but it makes sense because you're a global mod, haha.
I'm so glad I could be of help. I wasn't very far when I started—only less than a year, but my Russian knowledge was not very good. Still, the vlog videos gave me some much-needed motivation.
Yeah, being a global mod often sends me around the language globe. Sometimes I am subscribed to as many as 20 forums at a time. Aside from spam, I also find gems like this! So, I am happy I got to see it.
PS I subscibed to a Dutch backpacking vlog this morning, thanks to you and Simius! I'm looking forward to watching my comprehension go from nothing to being able to follow along. ^_^
Я тоже люблю её. Смотрела её интервью две недели назад случайно по-интернете и мне кажется что она очень миленькая и позитивная. Большой привет
"В интернете" is correct, not "по". And I would use "милая", instead of "миленькая". And if you prefer proper written Russian, I would suggest you learn "punctuation", because it's necessary in Russian, rather than in English. Just trying to help learners. Успехов в изучении!
It's been a while since i practised my Russian and listening is one of the areas i always recall struggling with. Thank you for your tips! I'm definitely going to try them (:
Thanks for the tips ! I started learning Russian last October and I really want to improve my listening skill, I somehow understand the slow Russian speaker but not the normal native speaker pace I found it really hard to catch the meaning of the spoken word from the first time. I am focusing more on grammar for the meantime specially "CASES!!
That's amazing! I wish Nadya knew this! Were you able to understand what they were saying in Liga Smeha? Some teams speak Ukrainian only and as a native russian speaker I barely understand what they say. I mean Russian and Ukrainian are not that similar as they seem to be.
Nadya will know on her next vlog video, if she reads the comments on it... :) I haven't started watching Liga Smeha yet, but thanks for the heads up. Perhaps I should start learning Ukrainian. If only the episodes on their website had subtitles. :/
A few days ago, I left a comment on Nadya's latest vlog video. No likes or replies. Oh well. :(
I doubt that she reads all the comments. I'm guessing it's easier to contact her on Instagram!