The Russian course: any questions for our 80% update?
Hello everyone and thank you for your anticipation of the Russian for English speakers course! We are almost at 80% and are planning on writing another update soon.
The course is likely to hit beta in early summer; we have already started making bonus skills to move some vocabulary out of the way. There are some words that are useful, yet we would rather not have them in the main course (even in the last part).
Are there any questions you’d like to see answered in the coming update?
No questions at the moment but I just want to again thank you for your work. I'm looking forward to the course later on this year :-)
EARLY summer?!! I sorely need to get those Cyrillic stickers for my keyboard... X-)
Thanks for the heads up, I have no questions at this point, just a bunch of thanks for all your work!!!
The anticipation is killing me o.o , so I got keyboard stickers last month :D Extremely helpful - best investment ever! I am using the reverse course for now to keep myself busy, but typing is still agonisingly slow. I wonder how long it takes until is becomes more or less automatic. I found keyboard stickers that have russian and arabic on them, just in case there is an arabic course anytime in the future on duolingo. I wonder what will happen if I travel to the US and they pull me out for a random search and they see the keyboard and the chinese books I use to study - they'll probably think I am a spy :/
I can help you answer, pinutzz. I have been learning Russian since 2008. That's when I first learned the alphabet and some basic words. I took two college courses and studied abroad in St. Petersburg in 2011. During this time I used the Russian keyboard off and on, not a lot though actually. Most of my work was in writing. But keep in mind I was familiar with it.
Then I took a break from learning and 3 months ago finally came back and have been studying every day since. I use the traditional Russian keyboard (not phonetic), it just feels more natural and i do not want to associate the Russian letters with the sounds of the English letters. Though typing is slower than a phonetic set-up, i feel i am doing myself a favor in the long run. In English, I type at about 75wpm. Middle of the road. So in Russian I am too slow to do the timed practices and it is not nearly as natural. But every day I find myself getting quicker and making more fluid key strikes.
Yesterday I made a huge breakthrough, I used an English keyboard without the Russian letters on them to type in Russian and do my lessons. I missed keys quite a bit but always managed to find them within a second or so. Overall I felt comfortable no matter the word. This tells me I am finally ingraining the key location. Ultimately, not having to look at the keys is faster no matter the language so this was huge step for me.
To answer your question, I think studying every day within 6 months you will be able to type at a reasonable speed (not mind-numbingly slow), and within a year expect to be typing without looking at the keys and around half of your English typing speed. Just estimates, but it depends on the user. I hope it's even faster for you. Good luck!
Well this was helpful also for me – thank you kind sir, and have a lingot.
Also, could you please elaborate on phonetic vs. normal Russian keyboard? Why do you think it is better in the long run? I was thinking about staring with phonetic as I expect it to be faster, and maybe someday switching to the regular.
I am polish native – had some Russian in school long time ago – and it is easier for us than for western language speakers. Also, I do not plan to use Russian in writing in the future, do you think phonetic is better choice for me?
Hi, I think that if you already touch-type then you should try learning typing on a standard Russian keyboard. It took me few days to learn how to write at a moderate pace.
I was thinking about staring with phonetic as I expect it to be faster, and maybe someday switching to the regular.
(I've been typing using the standard keyboard layout for several years, and it feels as "natural" as touch-typing in English.)
You would learn phonetic faster. But it does not take all that long to learn to touch type reasonably well on the standard keyboard (2-3 weeks of easy daily practice, and you could go faster if you needed to), and you would be much better off not switching from one to the other. That sounds like a nightmare. Since you want to learn the standard keyboard, I'd say just learn that one, unless you need the skill tomorrow.
Nowadays there does not seem any advantage to the standard keyboard over the phonetic layout if you will type only on a computer keyboard and not on a manual or electric typewriter. Nevertheless, if I had to start from scratch today, I'd still probably learn the standard keyboard., for what that's worth.
BenRea, you might try systematically practicing typing everyday for a week or two. It will really improve your speed. You can practice just using a text editor (it's how I taught myself, and it's easy), and there are also online sites or applications you can download to your computer, such as klavaro, which looks quite good--almost exactly the method I used, which worked great. Once you are pretty adept, there are online sites where you can participate in typing competitions to boost your speed.
Hi Mirek, you're welcome and thank you for the Lingot. No one has ever done that for me :) Standard Russian keyboard is what you will find in Russia, phonetic is a keyboard that matches the Russian letters to the closest sound in English. So д on the D key. I like standard better because it creates for a more natural learning of the language. I do not want to learn that girl is devochka because it's really not, it's девочка. So you are truly using Cyrillic instead of the Latin letter sounds. I suppose either way is just fine, but I prefer to learn what a Russian would learn since I am trying to learn their language.
Slogger, thanks for the tips. I am already practicing quite a bit with Memrise and Duo so I don't think I can add another typing platform at the moment. Thanks though!
There are different ways to type. Some of them are discussed here. Personally I use a phonetic keyboard. I was already a touch typist in English, so having the keys at more or less the same positions felt intuitive. On the other hand, if you already have a preferred method, it might be better to stick with it.
I have never used stickers myself, but I would recommend also setting your desktop background to an image of the keyboard layout you are learning.
Windows also has a Russian mnemonic keyboard that mimics the US one, way easier to get used to it.
You could try "Google Input Tools". It's phonetic. Like for example, you would just write "devuchka" instead of finding the key for every letter. Hope that helps. :)
Thank you all for good points about different input options! Jeez, things weren't this complicated back in the 1990s when I was learning Russian the first time around... A pencil and a notebook was enough!
If you are using Firefox, try the transliterator plugin: https://addons.mozilla.org/En-us/firefox/addon/transliterator/ It does phonetic alphabet conversion En->Ru You can test drive it here without installing it: http://www.benya.com/cyrillic/
Congrates, you reached 80% . I have no major question other than that when the Course is going to hit beta. Russian was one of the first of the foreign languages that I studied. The grammar was a lot different than that I have studied of, other european language (But, it was strikingly similar to Sanskrit). Anyway, I stick to the language and thoughly read whole grammar syllabus and understood the concepts, hoping someday I will start anew and, really learn and apply it. I postponed it for a better time. Now, the time is coming. See you soon.
It's really interesting you say that about Sanskrit...on the language tree if you go back far enough I'm sure they had some pattern migration responsible for that!
Yes, it's interesting. Sanskrit is one of the oldest language in Indo-European language family. having Highest place in Indo-Iranian branch. And Russian belongs to Slavic branch of same language family. Sanskrit has three numbers (singular, dual, plural) and 8 noun cases. While in Russian has two number (singular, plural) and 6 cases are used. But the structure of grammar are very much same.
AFAIK, almost all Slavic languages lost dual number on the way (Russian lost it about 5-7 centuries ago). There are still remnants of the dual number in how Russian deals with nouns that go with numbers and how some plurals are formed.
That was surprising. I didn't knew any other language which uses three numbers. Perhaps to read older text, we need some more lesssons. :)
I think Slovenian still has the dual form, but that's the only one I know of in the Slavic branch. That's really interesting that you found similarities in Russian and Sanskrit!
I remember when singing in choir at uni, where we quite often sang various settings of Latin liturgies, I was surprised a few times by understanding something in the Latin because of Russian. I couldn't begin to tell you what, mind, it was a long time ago, and I don't know if the relationship was coincidental, but I found it so interesting to see something familiar(ish) in a Romance language.
I'm another hoping to revitalise my sadly lapsed Russian. I was so excited to see it at 80%!
Latin seems similar to Sanskrit. And for Russian it's interesting. All best for Russian.
A lot of languages, especially throughout Europe, have words borrowed from Latin or a Latin-based (romance) language. At one time, French was spoken by the nobles in Russia because it was believed to be more sophisticated.
It is very thoughtful to ask your future users if they have questions! I appreciate that there is so much information about the process of creating the course - makes the wait a lot more interesting :D
Here is my question: Since aspect isn't marked with word endings in Russian but they are actually different words, like for instance Работать, Поработать (to work): How are you going to teach which verbs form a pair? Not all the pairs are as easy to spot as in the example above, for instance: Говорить, Сказать (to speak).
It is just that we rarely write an update, so I don't want it to be a one-liner that makes twits look like press releases.
We mostly teach aspectual pairs in different lessons. Pair formed from different base word are quite rare, so a few lines in a Tips are enough. It is the use of the aspects that is harder to grasp.
I am not sure Duolingo will help you much with that — all we do is trying to include some context into sentences to make it unlikely to use a different aspect (or make up sentences where both are valid, depending on the interpretation).
However, we make some supporting study materials to help you drill some patterns that are hard to get when translatig separate sentences.
I think just having an easy/structured way to get back some kind of firm foundation will be very helpful, for me! Hopefully once I've got my brain round it again that'll set me off in the right direction, you know? What I do and don't remember is rather random and patchy, so it will be good to fill in some gaps in my memory.
I think probably if I'd used Russian consistently since I finished my degree, I'd have a better understanding of aspect by now - my fault!
I have some really good Russian grammar books... somewhere...! Unfortunately my language books all seem to have gone walkabout.
Will there be a military skill bubble? There is sooo much to read with respect to Russian history that I hope you are considering including a section of that vocabulary.
Привет всем! Is there going to be a skill about verbal prefixes (both those which add a particular shape of meaning, like пере-делать, and the motion ones, like у-бегать)? And what about multidirectional verbs of motion? I would really appreciate it...even though I am quite fluent in Russian, I still struggle with these things sometimes ^__^ Спасибо вам огромное! ))
We've had a skill on the prefixed verbs of motion for some time now. Other prefixed verb will come near the end of the tree, if there are enough left and they provide an opportunity to group them conveniently.
> Are there any questions . . . ?
I don't know if this is the sort of thing that you are looking for, but here are a few things that I'd really like to work on:
- when to use perfective forms vs. imperfective forms
- when to use the instrumental case in the predicate
- which verbs take the direct object in the genitive.
Plus another thousand or two other things, of course. But the above are what I can think of right now.
And THANKS for working so hard on the course.
Not quite sure about the last point of the list, but I am delighted to inform you we do devote some attention to teaching various uses of Instrumental connected to the idea of being (and a few other popular uses). My only regret is that some frequent patterns do not translate into Englush nicely, so you only translate most of the forward.
That sounds great, Shady_arc. Any practice for when to use the instrumental will be a great help.
About the genitive, what I meant was with verbs such as бояться, or with иметь. For иметь I've seen the dir. obj. both in the genitive and the accusative and haven't yet figured out what the difference is--but it's not terribly important, considering how much else I don't know! :)
Anyway, thanks again to you and the whole team for working on the course.
Бояться is a reflexive verb. Reflexive verbs do not take Accusative objects, since it is understood that their "object" is the subject itself. "Бояться" is one of the very few verbs breaking that rule (for living things tyou can use Accusative as well).
"Иметь" is used with Accusative in positive statements and with Genitive (obligatory) in negatives. That used to be the norm for all transitive verbs (in 19 century, that is). However, in modern Russian most transitive verbs no longer require Genitive in negatives — in fact, it may subtly change the shade of the meaning or sound outright bookish.
There is one special case, though: usage of verbs like "give", "want", "bring" with substances (mass nouns). If you mean "some amount of that stuff", you may opt to use Genitive instead of Accusative ("Он принёс ей воды"/"Я хочу сока"/"Сходи купи картошки").
Thanks! All 3 paragraphs are very helpful.
> "Иметь" is used with Accusative in positive statements and with Genitive (obligatory) in negatives. That used to be the norm for all transitive verbs . . .
This is especially good for me to read. Maybe I latched on to an old grammar at some time, but at one point I thought that was indeed the rule and have been uncertain about this ever since.
Converting Accusative to Genitive is really old. I doubt you could find it as an obligatory rule in any grammar if you learnt Russian in the recent decades. All it means, you should be wary while reading literature more than a century old. This is generally not the case for modern Russian.
It still remains a popular option for verbs of perception and thought (видеть, слышать, знать, замечать, думать, хотеть, желать and some others). Genitive makes a more emphatic negation in that case.
A perfect option when the object is an absract concept, especially when it is a set expression:
- Я не ищу признания. = I am not seeking recognition.
- Я не желал ему зла.
- Концерт не произвёл на меня никакого впечатления. = The concert did not make any impression on me.
- Не обращай внимания! = Pay no attention to that!
- Этот источник не внушает доверия. = That sourse does not seem trustworthy.
Again, thank you. This is very helpful.
> "Иметь" is used with Accusative in positive statements and with Genitive (obligatory) in negatives.
> Converting Accusative to Genitive is really old. I doubt you could find it as an obligatory rule in any grammar if you learnt Russian in the recent decades.
> It still remains a popular option for verbs of perception . . .
> A perfect option when the object is an abstract concept, especially when it is a set expression . . .
Obviously, I haven't learned Russian yet! But I first tried in the 1960s, and some of the (used) primers I picked up then were a good deal older than that. Maybe that was where my confusion began. And, after all, there was plenty of fuzzy thinking going on in the 1960s. ;)
Your examples show why I've not been easy about this point since. There are many instances of the genitive being quite correct, despite the general rule, and I've obviously never analyzed them adequately, after starting off on the wrong foot.
There's no time like the present. Большое спасибо. Пока-пока.
I believe there will be a lot of grammar to learn for Russian language. How will you and your team deliever such large content to Duolingo users? :)
Oooh, I like surprises! I would say that in addition to the usual "idioms" and "flirting" I would love for Russian to maybe have an additional segment about Russian travel, since it is such a big country.
Russian is full of idioms. isn't it? From white crow to crying crocodiles and with nails, shoes to the stars of sky along , after eventually to law of mean-ness. There are many . It will be quite entertaining to learn them.
We'll hardly have more than a dozen—precisely because idioms are extremely boring and not entertainining at the least.
I think you are right, A few idioms looks fine. But to read many at a time feels boring. Well, it's better to learn it, rather by actual immersion.
Idioms are an interesting problem. According to one research, non-native speakers are very bad with Russian proverbs.
- 90% or more most popular proverbs are known by a native, most can easily be used.
- 85% are known by immigrants, and they don't use a third of them
- less than 10% are known by advanced-level American learners, only 1% actively used.
Which shows that yep, teaching them has a long way to go. Even passive learning is very helpful. Imagine something like "no pain, no game" or "He's blaming bats and frogs", "Just call a blade a blade". If you don't know the original expression, google can hardly help you. And people love playing with their idioms.
I have few questions:
In what order do you teach cases?
What unique vocabulary do you teach? For example, the Dutch course has Dutch geography and cuisine.
What is an example of a complex sentence that we could be expected to understand after diligently completing the course?
Do you have the (in)famous sentence "A penguin is drinking milk"?
Thanks and good luck with the course!
1. Cases go as follows: Nominative→Genitive→Accusative→Prepositional→(Locative 2)→ Dative→Instrumental.
2. We teach pretty much everything we need. Some our unique vocabulary includes a few meals not commonly eaten in English speaking countries, a number of verbs and nouns that are tricky to translate precisely but good to know, and a few names of Russian-speaking countries. I hope people will at least learn which are the major countries where Russian is spoken by the majority of the population. That makes sense, doesn't it? The German course has Austria and Switzerland, after all.
- since Russian words for people of different nationalities are nouns that are different from their adjectives, you might consider these unique, too (as well as "Moscow" and "St. Petersburg")
- even in the main tree our selection of foods is greater than, say, in the English course. For tourists, I think, we'll have a bonus section where one might learn more specific words for spices, different kids of meat/fish and various cooking vocabulary.
3. It's kind of hard to predict. I would bet on something like Не нужно знать много о жизни великих композиторов, чтобы слушать и понимать музыку девятнадцатого века.
Our focus is rather on good coverage of popular patterns and diverse vocabulary used to discuss and desribe different things you might be interested in. If you understand the basic blocks, then a longer sentence built on the same principles and using familiar words won't be much of a trouble. But here the catch: judging by my own experience, such sentences aren't that much fun to translate on Duolingo. Thus, while teaching, my preference lies with a lot of simple sentences and a few more complex ones (if only to refresh some structure learnt in previous skills).
4. Do we have to? I didn't even know such a sentence existed.
"The grave question of Russian" :)
Yes, we do. Briefly. I highly recommend getting familiar with the alphabet beforehand. We can show you how to read words (томат, Том, Макака, мокка, кофе, фокус, миссия etc.) but reading is a skill. You only learn skill with enough practice—and how much practice can you get in a day a two? The earlier you start, the more comfortable you are going to be.
I'm going to start learning the Cyrillic alphabet soon. I think it's so beautiful looking.
Actually, I took a glimpse of how you teach the alphabet, and it is very clever and I'm very much looking forward to it!
Most textbooks do the same. There isn't anything special about that (however, I would prefer if Duolingo had a short introductory section where you'd learn ONLY letters).
You can learn russian alphabet with this game in no time http://www.digitaldialects.com/Russian/Russian_alphabet.htm
Not quite. It comes up in the Adjectives for a little while, though. It is just that learning it in detail would require you to use a lot of different grammar all in one lesson. Maybe we'll extend that section later because it does not belong to the advanced sections of the tree.
So course contributors have the power to make bonus skills in addition to the usual flirting/idioms/christmas?
Where do you expect Russian to be eventually ranked in # of learners?
Contributors make their own bonus skills. We'll have a few idioms but I think we are going to pass on flirting.
I do not know the future number of learners but, I suppose, the 400-500 thousand learners mark will be hit quite soon after the release. Maybe about 1-2 million in future. I cannot estimate how successful the learning is going to be, thouhg. And that would be most interesting; quite a number of courses have 500K–1M learners. How many people will drop out at the beginning, or in the middle of the tree compared to other courses of the same popularity? I'd like to know THAT myself.
Ah ok, if course contributors have the power to decide the topic of the bonus skills then it seems odd to me that they've all made the same ones, they could be so creative with this.
Since Russian is one of the major world languages I think we'll see the course gain learners quite quickly and it will probably be ranked ahead of Dutch and behind Portuguese after some time. However, the alphabet will be a major barrier for a lot of people so there will be a lot less users completing Russian trees than the other major languages in my opinion. Duo should provide statistics on number of completed trees for each course!
Maybe it's just me. I don't like the idea of having a list of funny flirting phrases. Besides, do you expect me to come up with them myself? I would have found it amuzing 10 years ago, perhaps.
Personally, I see Bonus skills as an opportunity to introduce more material that is heavily (even a bit too heavily for a beginner's course) focused on some specific vocabulary. Material good for anyone really interested in the language but the one that you can choose not to learn.
To give you an example, try to count foreign languages you can do elementary school maths in.
That sounds great, I wish other courses would have the same attitude toward their bonus skills as you do!
> . . . try to count foreign languages you can do elementary school maths in.
Oh, that reminds me, thanks! Howabout a special skill: recognizing Russian numbers, dates, and years (in various cases) aurally?
And you are absolutely right, of course. It would be great to have a skill that gave practice in hearing and saying and translating doing simple math problems.
I'm so ready! I have done some Russian studies on my own but I prefer Duolingo's platform for language learning. I'll start taking Russian at the University of Texas in fall 2016 and I hope to test out of a semester or so.
Very exciting news! Will it be phrase oriented as I think other duoLingo languages are--by which I mean, we merely need to learn to repeat phrases, and we do not have to learn inflection tables?
I'm afraid, in Russian you won't get away with learning only set phrases.
Though, for the most of the course we don't use the less frequent oblique forms very extensively, so you will hopefully be able to keep up.
Big thank you for this thread, and the answers, and the work in the course! Большое спасибо!
Are there any satirical questions or ones that generally joke around in the course?
For example, the Swedish course has some famous quotes and sayings in some of the lessons.
There are at least two. One of them is Я всегда хорошо сплю, когда надо работать.
One more question (if I am not too late, since you already crossed the 80% if I am not mistaken): Men and women do not say the same thing in Russian, ie some words change with gender, like Я был занят (I was busy, male speaker) vs Я была занята (female speaker). Is there only going to be a female voice that will also say the male version of sentences (which would be a bit confusing...) or will we get a TTS with both genders?
I still don't know which TTS we are going to get. If we are lucky enough to end up with the one I deem more reliable and consistent, we might have male voice eventually.
On a sidenote, I don't see it as much of a problem to read lines as if you were a different person. No more weird than reading a paragraph from a work fiction aloud. I am not a woman, I am also not a bowman or a teenager or a lizard, I am not yet an old man with a lot of children and grandchildren. So what? I can still read their lines.
I just checked Ivona voices. Tatyana sounds nice and I wouldn't mind if it were used, Maxim sounds really harsh and robot-ey.
Wow, thanks. I didn't know they made a new Russian voice. I can say that Maxim definitely sounds better but makes some of the same mistakes. Some of their mistakes are different.
I never liked Tatyana's accent. With Maxim, it seems, they finally got a speaker with a nice voice and standard pronunciation.
I have heard female speakers using male adjective endings about themselves in at least one of the Romance courses, which I thought was a bit weird. In my experience Pimsleur avoids making that mistake.
Maybe those are just prepubescent boys?
Which are commonly dubbed in cartoons by women.
Will there be a words tab for this course while its in beta or will that be added later?
Not sure if you have answered this anywhere, but I understand that there are several dialects of Russian that vary slightly from one another. Are those differences significant enough that they impact the course at all? Is there a particular dialect that you are focusing on? (Moscow dialect, perhaps?)
The most diverse use of dialects is found in villages or small towns. If you ever get there; it's better to talk to older people.
There isn't much diversity in cities and towns, I'm afraid, though several peculiarities are indeed found in a few regions where significant minority language affects the usage of Russian. The diferences are virtually non-existent compared to the variety German or Italian have got.
Travelling around Russian cities, you can expect to find some of the following:
- a slightly different pronunciation. Some consonants are the culprits, and there is a number of variation in how the vowels of unstressed syllables are pronounced. A non-native speaker is likely to only notice fricative G and audible O's in unstressed syllables (which can only occur in a few words in the standard dialect)
- intonation; it may confuse you in some regions
- a number of local words that do not exist in standard language or aren't normally used with that particular meaning. It primarily affects everyday items and a few popular actions ("laugh", "sneeze", "run around") which may or may not have a unique local word for them.
- local idioms
This does not impact the course because we teach the language we know, which is the standard languge. I can provide a number of amusing facts about usage in different regions... But to tell you the truth, I have spent my whole life around Moscow, so I don't know Russian spoken elsewhere all that well. If you want to learn Russian spoken in Kazan, Tomsk, Kyiv or Almaty, better just go there or find a person who lives there.
So far, my favourite "confusing" regional words are (roughly translated into English) "crypt" for cellar, "goblet, wineglass" for cup, "sand" for sugar, "cup" for bowl, "dish" for water basin and "what for" instead of why. We do not teach these. For obvious reasons.
I don't think Russian has dialects. Pronunciation is relatively straight forward in Russian. Vocabulary and grammar aren't :(
You say you are at 80%, but is there something else left to do besides translating words and sentences? (sorry if this has already been asked)
How are you gonna work the keyboard dilema?
How are we going to type in the russian letters on an english keyboard?
We aren't in mid-90s. You can learn to touch type in the standard Russian layout(ЙЦУКЕН), you can use Google Input tools, or you can install a phonetic keyboard (where Д=D, Г=G, П=P, Ф=F and so on).
And it isn't even a question if you use a device with a touchscreen instead of a desktop (or a laptop) computer.
If you were interested if there is anything clever Duolingo came up with—nope, Duolingo does not seem interested (if they were, I'd rather direct their efforts toward alphabet-teaching exercises).
Transliteration might work. Howere, please, note that transliterating Russian with Latin letters is not straightgforward, so I cannot guarantee it will be intuitive fore everyone. I am not sure which system Duolingo currently uses.
Will you be including noun gender on the flashcards/words section? I know that if a Russian noun ends in the soft sign then it can be either masculine or feminine, so you just have to know. I think this would be really important, especially if they add the flashcards as a permanent feature. I know you could learn its gender on the exercises. I think it'd be cool if it were on the flashcards too, if it's not too much trouble.
That's not something I can answer. I never saw flashcards until fairly recently, and for all I know, they are created automatically.