2020 Russian language focus

By Ursula Kallio / 2019-12-17 / In categories Posts

language learning, russian

A year since being näive

Since being näive, my focus has shifted to having fun. So, if you imagine of an opportunity that surrounds me with Russian on a regular basis, please do let me know.

Where to go next?

In 2019, I tried to track my learning for the first time, namely because people too often lead with the question, “How long have you …?” I wanted to provide a scientific answer to this perpetually irritating question. People want to know how much of a genius someone is by means of this single, impossible-to-answer question. For example, I don’t think when I open a book, listen to a song, or try to say something to someone. It is second nature for me. “Clocking in” to learning seems too mechanical and calculated. “What are you able to do with … ?” is a more apt question, which leads nicely into “What would you like to be able to do next with … ?”

In Russian, I am able to read cyrillic, read it cursively, write it, write it cursively, pronounce things rather decently given I know where the accent marks go, greet people, ask how they are doing, tell someone where I am, give basic details about what I am doing and who I am with, what time it is, pick out some words from songs, and a bit more.

Through my efforts this year, steady, consistent learning has payed off every time. When I try to do something intensely, it ends up wasting a lot of energy that I need to then go gather up again.

As I write this, I realize an important distinction: goal versus focus. Currently, I prefer the latter. My focus is on understanding things step-by-step, and in some cases overlearning certain aspects. A sense of focus allows me to routinely ask myself, “Am I having difficulty with this concept, related fact, or with its execution?"1 That continual analysis allows me to woodshed effectively. Perhaps the answer is to have both a goal and to make space for needed focus.

Do I yet know my “Why?” for learning Russian. In the short term, a) to write in cyrillic beautifully, and in the long term b) to understand how the Russian language influences the way its speakers think.

A) first requires repeated technical practice to achieve effortless execution, and b) requires a deep knowledge of grammar (concepts) and vocabulary words (facts). It’s a good thing I like grammar and collecting words.

These reasons are for external communication, and meanwhile internally I am just having fun.


  1. For details, read Ultralearning. ↩︎

Ursula Kallio

Author

Ursula Kallio

A preferably autodidactic polyglot