Thursday, March 28, 2013

Top ten tips for learning English (or any language for that matter)

1.      Active knowledge (speaking, writing) is built on passive knowledge (listening, reading), so listen and read to as much as you can. (The ideal opportunity is to be ‘immersed’ in English, eg by travelling to the UK or other English-speaking country)

2.      When you read and listen, don’t just try to understand, but also observe and remember the words and expressions mother-tongue speakers use – and copy them

3.      Systematically write down and remember words and phrases, especially ones you can use again

4.      When you can’t say something or when you make a mistake find out how to say it correctly and learn for next time

5.      Play puzzles and word games

6.      Read out loud

7.      Practise translating phrases and texts from Russian into idiomatic English (or vice versa)

8.      Record and listen to yourself speaking English (or Russian). Realise your weak points and work on them (for example words you mispronounce or grammatical mistakes you make)

9.      Create and use opportunities to compose written texts, learning how to express yourself the way mother-tongue speakers do

10.  Look for and use opportunities to use your foreign language in a real-life situation, such as public speaking or speaking to a foreigner.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

'Crutch phrases'

Here is a list of common words and phrases used to punctuate/pepper informal everyday speech - in Russian and English.

просто (just, as in, "I just want to say...")
в общем (basically)
собственно (basically)
честно говоря (To be honest with you)
по большому счету (for all intents and purposes)
получается (So, basically...)
так сказать
ну (erm... [if thinking about answer])
ну (uh-huh [if expressing agreement]
ну (y-e-e-e-s [if expressing qualified agreement])
как говорится 
кстати, между прочим (by the way)
конечно (absolutely)
пожалуй (probably, maybe)
как бы (as it were)
то есть (that is to say)
в конце концов, в итоге (At the end of the day)
и все (full stop [GB], period [USA])
Само собой разумеется (It goes without saying)
совершенно верно (Totally. Absolutely.)
понимаешь? (Do you know what I'm saying?)
нужно признать (in all fairness, to be fair)
типо (sort of)
на самом деле (actually)
не скажешь, что он Альберт Эйнштейн. Он далеко не  Альберт Эйнштейн (He's not exactly Albert Einstein)

I can edit/add new items as reponses come in. 

Mission statement

This blog is intended for language learners: English-speakers learning Russian and Russian-speakers learning English.

The idea is provide bite-sized posts on various aspects of language learning and usage.

In so doing I hope to inspire greater language learning and hopefully insight and understanding.