on 6 August 2009
If you never have learned Cyrillic script or a word of Russian and suddenly need to travel to Russia and learn the most basic lingual knowledge to find yourself around town, this is the course for you. If you look for a complete Russian course with text-book, exercise book and audio-material, this is not the course for you - unless may be as additional material that can be used in addition to complete language course as an alternative way to explain certain topics or source to learn useful vocabulary within certain areas.
The book has a very effective introduction to the cyrillic alphabet. This way of structuring the letters in 4 groups - from familiar look and meaning to unfamiliar look and meaning, should make it possible for you to learn the cyrillic letters in 3-6 hours. Different from many other textbooks, they also have chosen a fairly sensible set of words for practicing the alphabet, so that you will learn some words that is useful for you later in the process.
From there though they do 2 important mistakes. In an effort to simplify, they are very restrective with introducing basic grammar. Used correctly though, grammar is an essential help in understanding the basic structure of a language. Any good beginner's textbook in Russian gives the learner a good understanding the basic building blocks of Russian in this order: Locative, verbs in present, accusative, verbs of motion, genitive, past of imperfective verbs, imperative of verbs, adjectives and plural of accusative and genitive. It does not introduce aspect, participles or dative and instrumental before the first mentioned subjects is throughtly understood by the student, if at all. Because they fail in intruducing this topics at the right time (if at all) they fail to make the student capable of creating simple and useful structures on their own from the first lesson. Based on giving the student the sentence "I travel with car from Moscow to St Petersburg" and explaining basic grammar the student is capable of saying "You travel with train from Moscow to Yekaterinburg"
Their practical conversations seem very useful at first sight. In practice though, the people you talk to will not answer in this deterministic manner, but give answers and asks question the beginner is not prepared for. To be able to cope with this the student needs vocabulary and understanding of basic gramatical structures that gives a basic idea about what the person talk about, even when you don't get all the words.
Their coverage of months, weekdays and numbers is sensible, but the use of them is limited when they don't introduce how genitive, accusative and locative is used together with them in order to make useful constructions. Either this grammatical constructions need to be introduced earlier, or days, months and numbers should be introduced later.
As a consequence of the hessitaiton of introducting basic grammar, many chapters of the book is reduced to a matter of memorizing individual constructions, rather than creating your own sentences based on an understanding of how you make sentences in Russian. The reviwer who claims this is more an advanced phrace book than a language course is therefore right.
I don't agree with the reviewer stating that genitive plural and verbs of motion is too advanced to be included in this course. First it is quite easy, 2nd it is essential for beginners in Russian to understand. As many beginners's text-books in Russian makes genitive plural far more difficult than it is, I include what you need to know on this level here:
words ending on consonant (excl sh, ch, zh, sch) gets -ov in genitive plural (remember odin dollar, pyat dollarov)
words ending on -e, '(the soft sign) and sh, ch, zh and sch gets -ey in plural (remember odin rubel', pyat rubley)
words ending on -a, -ya or -o looses this ending (though words ending on -ya keeps a soft sign ' in the end of the word) (remember odna krona, pyat kron)
This is about 97% of the story and all you have to worry about on this stage - done by memorizing Rubel, dollar and krona
on 27 January 2010
I have had at least 6months to try out this product. I like having the cd with the book because I could burn it onto my mp3 player and listen to it on the train in the morning. I am making reasonable progress but Russian does have an initial step you need to overcome - the alphabet. It's not difficult but once you're over that it becomes much easier.
+ the book and the audio tie-up well.
+ the chapters of the book have good 'progression' to them
+ the audio starts off spoken slowly and picks up as the complexity increases
- the audio on it's own lacks structure which is a shame when you only want to take the audio with you.
- younger audiences will be bored by the material because there are no stories and the roleplaying is too short.
- the material covers a lot of vocab but not to any real depth.
Overall, a good solid system to get you started with your Russian.
on 6 March 2008
At first I thought this book looked a bit dry and hard-going, compared to just buying a phrase book or vocab builder. But it's concise and well structured. I've really come to enjoy reading it.. Every few days I take on a new lesson, which builds vocabulary, familiarity with the script, and fundamental grammar, with practical exercises. I'm also taking language classes which are conducted entirely in Russian, and I've found I can easily stay ahead of the class if I do a bit of work from this book rather than the home study suggested in class.
on 18 September 2010
This is fantastic for anyone who would like to learn Russian from scratch and as an English speaker. However, to get somewhere with this book you will need to be very committed to learning.
The CD is also vrey helpful as it allows you to understand the pronounciation.
I believe that one can teach themselves to GCSE standard with this book, providing that they are ready to practise regularly.