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Week 4 Wrap-Up: Holy F#*k, I Know Russian


russian wordsSo after crying throughout my entire week 3 of classes like a loser, I think I came around in week 4 to end it on a high note. It’s pretty astounding what you feel like you can and do achieve when you’re healthy and well-rested!

Here’s the deal:

You remember how I said after 2 weeks I was randomly tossing words into my vocabulary in class and translating things automatically in my head? Well week 4 took those two ideas to the max.

Not only was I tossing out words in my conversation that I didn’t even know I knew, they ended up being right! I was constantly second-guessing myself after saying a word just to be told by my teacher that I was correct.

One teacher told me that I always say the right thing first but just do too much thinking afterwards. Ha! Funny that!

Did you know Russian has 6 cases? That’s 6 different ways to end a word in Russian depending on its relationship to other words in the sentence! No, forget subject-predicate sentence structure — it’s all about the endings.

During week 4, I felt like I was really starting to get the hang of these cases and even though I pause sometimes when talking, I was able to pick the right ones and say things properly.

Then, there’s the point that I actually felt myself effortlessly speaking words and phrases because I knew they were right — they sounded right. No mental translation; no fumbling over words.

There’s something to be said for being surrounded by Russian sounds on a daily basis… you DO actually start to pick it up. Who knew?!

Again, if only I had had more time.

russian warning sign

On the down side, I can say that I am still in need of a heck of a lot of work! While I’ve been able to get the basics down, I lack a proper vocabulary. It’s a horrible feeling in class to want to say a thousand things at once but just not have the words for any of them.

I also need to practice my comprehension. It gets tiring asking teachers and taxi drivers to repeat themselves all the time. I need to be able to hear things right the first time, and have the vocabulary to simply understand it.

I have lots of work to do now that I am returning home after 4 weeks in Bishkek. I’m giving myself a schedule, which you’ll hear more about in the coming week. To be honest, I just forced myself to sit through 80 classroom hours of one-on-one lessons, and for the love of your mother, I am not going to let that work go down the drain again!


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11 Responses to Week 4 Wrap-Up: Holy F#*k, I Know Russian

  1. Roy Marvelous November 27, 2011 at 2:47 am #

    I’m impressed! I lived in Czech Republic for a year and could only master the basics by the end of it. Slavic languages are hard!

  2. Traveling Ted November 27, 2011 at 3:58 am #

    Congrats, you sound like you are a natural. Keep up the hard work.

  3. Richard November 28, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Congrats Brooke!

  4. Audrey November 29, 2011 at 2:15 am #

    Congrats on your Russian and getting over the hump! It’s a shame you have to leave now, but maybe you can find some Russian speakers back home to keep practicing. I find that I’ve lost so much of my Russian skills because I haven’t use it in years. A real shame, but I hope that if I return to the Caucasus & Central Asia it will come back to me. We’ll see..

  5. Casey November 29, 2011 at 6:00 am #

    Hahaha, I really enjoy your storytelling! I am in Cairo now attempting to pick up as much Arabic as I can. It is definitely hard work to pick up a foreign language, but all the public embarrassment you get to have while practicing the language makes the hard work totally worth it!

  6. Erica November 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Even after being in Latin America for 7 months, I still have to ask people to repeat themselves – I half think it is dialects though.

  7. Cole Harry May 28, 2013 at 6:07 am #

    Thanks for posting these articles on Kyrgyzstan. I found them randomly through a Google search for Russian courses in Bishkek. Did you go through a private academy? Or just find a teacher? I am hoping to go in Spring 2014, if all goes well. I started an intro course a few months ago and it is becoming ever clearer how much of an upward struggle the language will be. Cool that you managed to stick with it for the full month.

    • Brooke May 29, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

      I went to the London School in Bishkek for my language lessons. 🙂


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