Speaking and writing Russian

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Mastering Russian is a quest for international students. However, everything is possible. The key is to do the tasks that your teachers assign to you and follow their advice. Today our regular column about the Russian language covers the recommendations from specialists of Siberian Federal University for mastering the language by students from different countries.

Mastering the Russian language by Chinese and Arabic students

Sometimes students whose native language is Arabic have reading problems due to the specific features of their native language. They omit vowels, however, they understand the speech better. Besides, Arabic students should bolster their efforts to create a written text.

Students from China are a little slower at mastering the language, but their writing skills are better than those of students of other nationalities. Chinese students seldom communicate with Russian language speakers outside the classroom. It is difficult to get them to talk. This is one of the reasons why Chinese citizens are slower language learners. This is also true of introverted students.

Due to their temperaments and the specific features of the educational system, students from China are more focused on writing assignments, and stude  nts from Arab countries – on communicative interactions. Some students sometimes try to give up textbooks because they want to learn the language by ear.

The Russian language has a lot of international words. That’s why foreign nationals, who know English, find it easier to start speaking Russian.

Funny moments

Funny classroom moments usually occur because students use the direct translation of Russian words and expressions, as well as make word stress errors or say incorrectly: 

  • see you tomorrow – smotryu tebya zavtra
  • domohozyajka – domohozAjka

Funny moments also occur because Russian words and words from the mediator language can be consonant.

For example, in one of the Russian language classes at the elementary level, the teacher asked students to give an example and then said: "A eshche?" (Any more?) The students answered, "Yes." The teacher repeated, "Eshche." The student confusedly answered once again, "Yes." As it turned out, the student thought that the teacher had asked him in English, "Are you sure?" – "Vy uvereny?"

Listening is the most difficult skill.

That’s why a lot of funny situations happen when students confuse words that seem consonant to them, for example, "muzhchina" (man) and "mashina" (car). The teacher’s question "Kogda ty kupil mashinu?" (When did you buy the car?) can greatly surprise the student and then make the whole group laugh, when the reason for misunderstanding is figured out. Or the words "devushka" (girl) and "dedushka" (grandfather): "Ya lyublyu russkih dedushek. Oni takie krasivye!" (I like Russian grandfathers. They are so beautiful!)

In many languages, personal names do not change. And some students laugh, and others are surprised or even get angry when their names change completely (as it seems to them, of course) when they are inflected for case.

Chinese names seem unpronounceable only to people who have never worked with the Chinese. A week has passed, and you have committed all of them to memory. But when you attend, for example, the concert together and start calling everyone over aloud, saying each name from memory, Russian people admire it and say that you have a talent.

Learning Russian tips

At the very beginning, you should place an emphasis on learning how to pronounce sounds, as the correctional course is more difficult. Difficulties arise when you pronounce voiced consonants [v], [z], and [r], which are not found in some Asian languages. For example, the Chinese language has no [r] sound, which makes it hard for Chinese students to learn how to pronounce Russian sounds [r] and [l]. They sometimes say, " Moj golod – Halbin " instead of " Moj gorod – Harbin" (My city is Harbin).

Spanish-speaking students must focus on the correct pronunciation of [b] and [v] sounds ("beru" (I take) and "veryu" (I believe)), which do not differ and represent one sound in their native language.

It is necessary to develop the habit of memorizing new words regularly and communicate with native speakers in the language and cultural environment.

Writing is one of the most difficult skills. Russian letters and their combinations cause huge difficulties for most students writing both in hieroglyphs and letters. The reason is that they write in block letters at schools and universities.

But it is foreign nationals from Arab countries who have the greatest difficulties – they have to reorient themselves and learn how to write from left to right. We can give you only one piece of advice: try to have practice. If you work hard enough, it will take you three weeks to acquire this skill.

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