When should you start speaking Russian as a beginner?

Regardless of how limited your Russian vocabulary is, you can start speaking the minute you learn a new word. ‘How!’ I hear you cry. Easy. Simply put into practice words you have:

(1) Seen;

(2) translated;

(3) heard (use Forvo to hear native speakers pronounce words);

(4) read aloud; and

(5) written (with the appropriate stress based on the syllable upon which you hear the stress fall, or with the support of a Russian stress marker like RussianGram and a Latin alphabet transcription for ease of reading for the moments when you can’t access authentic native pronunciation).

For example:

Seen

Меня зовут…

Translated

My name is…

Heard

🔈 Меня зовут

Read aloud

🗣

Written

Russian script: Меня́ зову́т…,Latin script: minyá zav út

Seeing the word enables you to ensure that you know the precise phonemes which make up the word. Hearing the word allows you to identify any quirks arising from any pronunciation rules which apply. Writing the word down helps you to reinforce the connection between what you have seen, heard and read.

For example, if you learn the expression, Как дела?How are you? in Russian, aim to use it within the next couple of days. You can easily do so if you secure a language exchange partner and send them an audio message, or arrange a call. By doing this, you’ll benefit from the feedback native speakers will give you if you use vocabulary in the wrong context, misapply tenses, or use the incorrect verbal aspect, so you can improve your speaking ability and knowledge of grammar.

If you’re unable to track down a language exchange partner, don’t be afraid to speak to your reflection in the mirror , or repeat the expression whilst you are in the shower until you find a native speaker with whom you can use it!

Native speaker may not always be able to explain why what you are doing is wrong, because they simply ‘know’ their language and are generally not well-versed in the grammar rules which apply. However, the fact that they raise an eyebrow will let you know that something about the way you are using Russian could be improved and you can set off to discover how to correct the issue by making use of language forums online, finding a tutor, using websites like Unlocking Russian, or researching information in a good textbook.

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