Apr 112008

I’ve been wondering for some time what I was going to do when I finished the Pimsleur Russian course. I like using the Pimsleur language courses because they’re something I can do on my bicycle commute to work, or when I drive, or sometimes when I’m working out in the garage.

But Pimsleur can take one only so far. It doesn’t do much in the way of vocabulary building, and doesn’t do much to help one with the written language. I worked my way through the last of the 90 lessons a couple of months ago. I can review them some more, but even when I know them perfectly, it won’t be nearly enough.

I’ve done more than just follow the Pimsleur course — I’ve learned enough of the Cyrillic that I can more or less pronounce words I see, even if I don’t understand them. I’ve studied some of the grammar in Russian for Dummies and the Lonely Planet guide. And I watch a bit of Russian movies almost every day — sometimes with subtitles and sometimes without. I’ve learned a few things that way, but at the rate I’m going it’s not enough.

I thought of getting a Russian New Testament on audio from the Faith Comes by Hearing people. I have their limited-vocabulary French version on audio, a lightly dramatized one that seems to come from West Africa, and I thought it was very well done. I can more or less follow the Gospels when I listen to them while riding. (The Epistles and other parts without dialog are not so easy to follow, so maybe I don’t know as much of that language as I think I do.) But I don’t think there is a Russian equivalent. I could swear that at one time the Faith Comes by Hearing people had a more modern translation in addition to the Holy Synod one, but I don’t see any sign of it now. I’m afraid the Holy Synod version might be a bit much for me at this point, though it might be worth a try just the same.

But a few days ago I finally found what I need: Lingq. I signed up for the free version for now, but during some months when I have enough time, I’ll sign up for the for-pay version, maybe even for the one that gets me some real-time help from a tutor.

Lingq is orieinted towards learning words. Learning words is not the same as learning grammar and meaning, of course. But I think it will be just fine for me, having just learned some of the grammar and structure from Pimsleur. I do NOT think it would be a good way to start learning a language, and there may be a point when it’s no longer the best way for me to continue, but it seems just right for this point in my learning. I get to select dialogs to read and listen to. I mark the words I don’t understand, and they go into a flash-card system by which I can learn them. I’ll put some of the dialogs on my MP3 player so I can listen to them over and over while I’m riding.

We’ll see, anyway, if this helps me make some real progress.