First Week With A New Language


Last week I told you that I began my Russian lessons, and this week I can boast knowing the alphabet and a few words. After getting over my ridiculous fear (I can say that now) I was able to just have fun. I love learning. The more you know, the easier it is to interact with and understand more of the world…not necessarily with humans.

When learning a new language which doesn’t use the roman alphabet (the one used in English, Spanish, etc.) I always begin with the alphabet. I know others can begin learning a language by listening and speaking only and then go back to the alphabet. But for me it’s about my eyes: reading and writing. (Writer aboard!) I read the instructions on pronunciation related to each letter before using my ears. If the order is switched I feel handicapped. So…I don’t do it.

So I am using and they begin exactly where I like to begin, with the alpha…bet. Of course, I’m no genius so I did take a little time to get the pronunciations, and there are a few letters that I’ve had to put in some extra effort for, but I can’t wait for the next level.

I cannot fully express to you how excited I was looking at various words and pronouncing them correctly by looking at the Cyrillic letters. My heart grew, I smiled really hard, and squealed at little…a lot inside. It. Has. Been. Fun. I am sure difficulties will persist as I become more acquainted with the language, but I am anxious to meet them.

Over the past week I’ve been pleased to have interacted with multiple languages (not that I’m fluent in them). But the little tips I’ve learned in each are playing apart in making Russian easier. Here are some language learning tips that might help you as well.

1 – Be open-minded. Your native language (English) is a building block but it is not the benchmark.
In other languages there are differences in sentence structure, word formation, and grammar. Holding onto what you know when it conflicts with a new concept will help you sometimes, and at others it won’t.

2 – Vowels are essential.
In spoken languages they assist in pronunciation and are largely the elements which cause sound changes in consonants. In some languages such as Korean, a consonant has no sound unless it is coupled with a vowel.

3 – Don’t try to be pretty when pronouncing.
The shape of your mouth assist the sound it makes. My Spanish instructor referenced Opera singers and how they contorted their faces to belt out beautiful and emotional sounds.

4 – Get a notebook.
While learning Korean, a friend suggested using a notebook to assist in the process. I’d never paid much attention to how much it helped to have a language rules and practice exercises written in something I could refer to on a whim. With Spanish I had one but didn’t refer to it at all. But with Korean I was in it a lot, and rereading explanations of various rules when needed was extremely helpful. (I’ve done a bit of looking over my notes already last week, and a little this week though it’s just began.)

What rule do you keep in mind when learning any language?


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