Christmas Continued…


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Some more Christmas facts, because, you know, it’s Christmas and who doesn’t love Christmas.

For a few more fun Russian Christmas facts you can watch the video below:



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Can you tell I’m excited?! Christmas is my favourite time of year, and so this week I thought I’d look into how Christmas is celebrated in Russia.

To say there were a few things that surprised me would be an understatement, here’s why…

  • The official Christmas holiday last from the 31st December to the 10th January.
  • Christmas is normally celebrated on the 7th January (because the Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar).
  • New Years is often seen as more important to Russians – this is when Дед Мороз (Father Frost, who carries a staff) brings the children presents alongside Снегу́рочка (the Snow Maiden).
  • On Christmas Eve, Russians will have a holy supper made up of 12 dishes – one for each of the apostles.
  • Christmas/festive food includes: Kutya (porridge based dish), Kozulya (deer/goat/sheep shaped cookie), goose cooked under a sour cream sauce, and Pagach (Lentan bread).

The cultural differences are blatantly apparent, but there are two things that remain the same no matter the distance – wishing someone a happy new year (С Новым годом) and a merry Christmas (C рождеством)!

Russian Online University


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Last week I shared a video by the Russian Online University. In all honesty, I had stumbled upon the video by accident yet found it to be incredibly interesting and useful. So, this week I decided to dig a little further into the catalogue of videos offered by the ROU – I was not disappointed.

Whilst the channel is aimed at beginners, it is well worth a look. Not only are the ‘lessons’ structured, they are also presented at a good pace and in a manner that doesn’t feel intimidating.

More importantly though, Leo (the host of ROU) isn’t afraid to try out different methods of teaching – linking you to Russian comedy song videos such as this…

In case you’re in any doubt, I thoroughly recommend having a look.

The Russian You Already Know – Cognates


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In light of last week, I decided to carry on brushing up on what I’ve already learnt. This also got me thinking about what Russian I might already know without having actually learnt it, in other words cognates.

Cue this video by Russian Online University:

Not only is it a great vocabulary builder, but an interesting look at the sometimes seemingly rare similarities between Russian and English. Let’s see how many I can find…

Brushing Up


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The value of this week’s brushing up should not be underestimated, and here’s why…

  1. Everyone forgets that language is like any other subject – for things to stick you have to go over them.
  2. You can’t learn to run before you can walk – everyone has to start from the bottom when it comes to language learning, you can’t be fluent unless you know the basics to start with.
  3. There will be things that inevitably you’ve forgotten, rediscovering them counts as progress.

So if there’s just one piece of advice to leave you with this week, it’s this – going back over what you’ve learnt isn’t the same as going backwards!

When One Became Two…and a Bit


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As the title of this post suggests, one week away from my Russian journey has slowly crept up to two and a bit weeks away. Instead of getting into the why’s, I think it would be a far better use of my time to jump straight back into things.

So, over the past few days I’ve been brushing up on my numbers and flicking through a number of really useful websites; particular mention should be made of Russian Plus and RussianLessons.

As for the week ahead, well that will spent much the same way. Word a day will happen as usual, and I might even venture to learn a few Russian colours but for the most part a quick Russian refresher is definitely in order.

Until next time, до свидания!

A Brief Hiatus


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It it is perhaps best to start with the title of this post – A Brief Hiatus. This coming week, I’ll be taking a short break from my Russian – not because I feel I’ve hit a brick wall, or that I am swamped with all the new vocabulary, but instead because the week ahead is looking rather busy for me with work and visiting friends. So no Russian at all? Well maybe I’ll stick to ‘word a day’, but not much more.

Now that that’s out of the way, how’s this week’s Russian gone? Pretty well – I managed to learn all the numbers to тридцать один (and a few more, though I didn’t quite reach шестьдесят – that challenge will have to be continued….). As for catching up on выжитъ после, I managed to squeeze in a couple of episodes and it’s safe to say that I am hooked! For those of you that are interested, here is the first episode.

So until next time, check out my other posts here, and keep up with the good work!

до свидания

Halfway through the challenge AND…


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So, I was halfway through my challenge before it suddenly dawned on me that whilst I might be able to name objects around the house, I couldn’t tell you either the date or time in Russian. My knowledge of Russian numbers shockingly ends with десять.

It’s not hard to guess then, that this week’s challenge is to learn Russian numbers from десять all the way to тридцать один, and if I’m lucky maybe even to шестьдесят. That isn’t to say that I now know how to name everything in my house, far from it in fact, but I’ll be working my way through the house at the same time as learning to count all over again.

Being pressed for time that’s all I have for this week’s update, but I’ll be back in no time (hopefully having caught up on some выжитъ после)!

Challenge for the week ahead


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This week I’ve decided to keep things short and sweet.

First off, no partner in crime as of yet. I’m still working on that front, but I have a few leads to keep me occupied for the present.

Secondly, after last week’s post (which you can read here), I have consciously tried to spend a bit more time on my Russian every day. Suffice it say, on the whole I stuck to this plan, managing to squeeze in an extra 15 minutes per day, give or take.

As it turns out, I quite enjoyed the challenge (as if learning Russian wasn’t challenging enough?!) – so I’ve decided that it could be quite fun to set myself a new challenge each week just to keep me on my toes. So, the next challenge?

Well, in the interests of manageability, my challenge won’t quite reach the dizzy heights of being able to recite Russian law or political history. Instead, for the next week I’ll be trying to learn how to write, read and name everyday objects from around the house. “What’s challenging about that?!” I hear you cry – for starters there’s a seemingly infinite list of things I can learn, so the chances of the challenge having to end early are relatively slim. Also, let’s not forget that this is Russian we’re talking about, and there’s probably a whole set of grammar rules that I can begin to work my way through.

Wish me luck!

A Little More Time & a Partner in Crime

After last week’s little hiatus from conventional language learning, this week I decided to bring back the books, which got me thinking about how I spend my time learning Russian.

For the most part it’s been divided between grammar books, films/TV and textbooks. Most days I try to do half an hour, which may not sound like a lot but as I’ve said before, it quickly adds up. But is half an hour too little, and should I be doing more?

To answer this question I thought I’d turn to google, and others out there trying to learn a language. The results, as expected, were varied but a couple of articles on the subject really stood out.

The first was a post made by Kris Broholm – Top Secret Resource – which in and amongst the many posts about language learning techniques such as Pimsleur, Babbel and Rosetta Stone, was the perfect reminder that the only key ingredient is time, even if that is just an hour a day (if you really can only spare 10 minutes or so, don’t be discouraged – anything is better than nothing!).

But going it alone can sometimes seem daunting, and progress slow. Enter the second blog that caught my attention – language learning with a running partner – sort of… When we set ourselves goals in many other aspects of our life, be that diet or fitness, we are often encouraged to find ‘partners’ for moral support. Why should it be any different for language?

So the plan for the coming week? Try to spend a bit more time on my Russian, and see if I can find myself a ‘partner’ in crime to share the highs and lows!