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Я хорошо говорю по-русски
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Still working on my Russian lessons. I'm getting a much more expanded vocabulary and can now ask for things like directions and questions like, "Do you want something to eat?" As well as being able to answer all those types of questions. So as the title of this post says, "I speak Russian well." Actually due to Russian grammar, the exact word order says "I well speak Russian."

The vocabulary is getting large enough for me to augment these tapes with making up some flash cards. When I took German in college that approach seemed to help me the most. I've never been very good at learning foreign languages, but I really like this Pimsleur stuff. I'm about halfway done with the CDs, it's the Pimsleur Russian I which contains 30-thirty minute lessons on 15 CDs (so that's 15 hours of Russian lessons).

As I've mentioned I load them onto my iPod which works out great. The Pimsleur stuff is excellent but also very very expensive. I bought this first set of three (each set has 30 lessons on 15 CDs) new on ebay for $170 and that's what most of the used sets seem to go for. When I'm done or just on the last few CDs (probably in a few weeks) I'm going to go ahead and sell mine on ebay for $150 (so if you are starting your adoption journey and want them just email me and I'll sell them to you for $120).

The other option if you only want to just learn a few simple words for a child is a CD that Teresa Kelleher created. Most people like it, but it is pretty limited and designed just for speaking to a child. I wanted something in which I could talk to the orphanage director and the judge as well as saying a few things to the child so that's why I opted for the more advanced Pimsleur stuff.

And of course you don't have to learn Russian at all since you will have a translator with you most of the time. However, we felt it was important to learn as much as we could and avoid the "ugly American" moniker that is, unfortunately, all too true. Plus we just feel there is a huge benefit you get when you at least try to speak to others in their language, and we really want to make sure the orphanage director and the judge are on our side.
posted by Steveg @ 9:22 AM  
  • At 10:48 AM, Blogger Jim said…

    Russian is fun to learn, isn't it? The hardest part for me is the grammar.

    The title of your post says one thing but implies another. If you want to say that you speak Russian well, then you really should modify "русский" to "по-русский." A valid end result would be "Я хорошо говорю по-русский."

    Alternately, and more formally, you could say "I speak the Russian language well," which would be "Я хорошо говорю на русском языке."

    Or, you could just do what I do, which is apologize, and then say that I am learning to speak Russian: "Извините, пожалуйста. Я учусь говорить на русском языке."

    I am far from an expert in Russian language, but perhaps the most frustrating thing to me while in Moscow was that nearly everyone there spoke far better English than my Russian. Almost without fail, after the first Russian words came out of my mouth, they would just switch to English. Since I have been studying Russian for over three years now, perhaps I would have a better time of it now, but it was certainly disappointing.

    Maybe you'll have a better time of it out in a region away from Moscow. I have read that English proficiency in the regions tends to be far less common than in Moscow.

    Nonetheless, great work! Keep at it!

  • At 11:07 AM, Blogger Jim said…

    By the way, I don't know if you have seen this before, but there is a language-learning software program available that allows you to create your own flashcards (it also has many pre-made lists), is available for the Mac, and also allows you to download and review your flashcards on an iPod. They have a free demo for Russian language so you can see what it is all about.


  • At 5:20 PM, Blogger Steveg said…

    Jim, yes unfortunately the online translators don't do that good of a job. I just left the title as it came from those but, yep, I do actually know the difference.

    I'm not bothering with learning to read and write Russian since speaking is tough enough.


  • At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi! I've been reading your blog for a couple of months. I am a prospective adoptive parent, who was born and raised in Russia but moved to North America 10 years ago.

    The correct version is
    "Я хорошо говорю по-русски"

    "Я хорошо говорю на русском языке" is also correct but it is not commonly used in Russian.

  • At 9:49 PM, Blogger Jim said…

    Told you my grammar was bad! :)

    Thanks for the correction.

  • At 8:00 AM, Blogger Lauri said…

    I could not agree more... a family we travled with learned no russian and did not even have a guide book. They adopted an older toddler and did not even attempt to comfort him in his own language. They started calling him his new name and never spoke a russian word. That floored me

    I learned & quickly forgot some basics- hello,goodbye,thankyou, water, and some Children's phrases. I made flash cards, had a guidebook and spoke Russian to my daughter, followed by the english word.

    I focused more on learning phrases to help my daugther and I do believe they helped her. Our translator advised me to speak only english to her so I did not confuse her ( perhaps my Russian was not so good)

    leap of fiath

  • At 3:58 AM, Blogger Rob said…

    Hey Steve, this is really wild. Your blog posts mirror my own journey very closely. My wife & I began about 7 months prior to you but we're actually about at the same point since we were stalled out by the NGO/reaccredidation holdup back in May. (In fact, our dossier arrived exactly 1 week after the cutoff date in May.)

    At any rate, we're also using the Pimsleur CDs on our iPods to try to pick up some key phrases. And my wife, Dede, made some flash cards which do seem to help.

  • At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Brent Van Arsdell said…

    Read the top testimonial on the site for my favorite comment on Russian American adoption.


    Personally I'd focus more on learning to speak and understand Russian rather than studying grammar at all.

    Brent Van Arsdell

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I'm Steve and this is my wife Stefanie. This is our story, mostly seen through my eyes, of the journey to create our family by adopting a child from Russia.

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