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on 10 July 2012
From one who has learnt to speak Russian but is lacking in the written word, I found the 'language learning' parts of this to be SO confusing - introducing words in a mixture of Roman and Cyrillic script for the first five chapters. There are some interesting learning techniques employed, e.g. crosswords, but they really need the help of a Russian speaker and/or teacher imo.

The 'life and culture' parts are very interesting, on the other hand, and help to spark the imagination and inspire vocabulary learning.

The New Penguin Russian Course: A Complete Course for Beginners (Penguin Handbooks) gets my vote for language learning and snippets of life & culture in preference to this, even though it doesn't have accompanying audio, so far as I know.

Schaum's Outline of Russian Grammar, Second Edition (Schaum's Outline Series) gives good explanations of grammar and plenty of practice exercises for those seeking to know more, while A Comprehensive Russian Grammar (Blackwell Reference Grammars) examines Russian grammar to a very helpful, detailed level for more advanced learners.

I've always rated BBC language courses very highly, but sadly this one failed for me.

Maybe it would've been better if I'd had the CD and/or not known any Russian to start with.
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on 17 June 2010
I agree with the comments that the book Russian Language and People shouldn't be sold separately from CDs. It is important to listen to the correct pronunciation.

I don't agree with the comment about unimportance of the articles describing Russian culture, places to visit and habits. It is very important to know a lot about the people's behaviour, because whatever the reason for your studies is, the only way how to get the feel for the language is learning about the people. If you learn for the business purposes, it's good to bear in mind that world-known psychometric companies are spending millions on studying people's habits and behaviour attached to language and culture. If you learn the language as a hobby for pleasure the same rules apply - the more you know about the natives, the better and faster you learn.

In particular, I loved the article on the page 134 called Meeting Russians. The conversation is funny, but telling a lot about the mentality of Russians :)
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on 21 November 2007
I am a professional teacher and a native Russian speaker and I am trying to teach my fiancée Russian, and he is not a very hard-working student and definitely not a language person. I must admit this book is great - the most successful so far.
It is an easy to follow book. It consists of units short enough to cover during 1.5-2 hours class each. Each Unit introduces new words, gives a couple of dialogues to read and understand, explain the basic Grammar used in the dialogues and drill the new material with a few exercises. It is accompanied by 2 cd-s, which should be bought separately. The CDs are a must if you want to use this book: you won't be able to check yourself or listen to dialogues without them.
It is perfect for self-studying and can be used as an additional material in class.

+++ *A good introduction into the Cyrillic alphabet,
*A good selection of words: lots of similar to English words in the beginning and then more and more different from English words as the book progresses
*I especially loved dialogues and situation to remember sections, it makes a student create dialogues and basically speak starting from the first unit
*Good explanations of the basic Russian grammar and semantic features for beginners: clear to follow rules but not too much theory

--- The only questionable features of the book I find are the following:
*word quizzes and crosswords that I as a teacher personally don't like, but other people may enjoy
*some words seem unnecessary for beginners. But then again, usually it's either the words that are very similar to English words and the i suppose the idea is that it shows how easy it is to recognize these Russian words even without knowing them (and as a Russian speaker I should admit there are loads of borrowed words in Russian and they are usually from science or business language). Or it's the words that are very important for Russian culture and you will definitely turn any Russian man from a grimy character of a movie about Mafia into laughing friend by telling him the names of a couple of Russian football and hockey clubs that the book will teach you.

Needless to say, this book can always used in the combination with at least one more. I think it is always a good idea to use at least a couple of course books for language studies.
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on 5 March 2011
I am disappointed with this book which is too picture oriented and rather child-like. The CD's are even more disappointing. The first one is largely a vocabulary list and the first part of the second one not much better. The Nicholas Brown New Penguin Russian Course book is much better constructed and the BBC CD Russian course is a far better aural introduction to the language from which to gain an idea about pronunciation.
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VINE VOICEon 5 May 2009
I reviewed the course as a whole at Russian Language and People (I don't know why Amazon lists the audio materials on their own, they certainly can't be used that way!) Without the audio materials, this course loses its only advantage; it was definitely designed around the extensive selection of dialogues and pronunciation demonstrations, and many points made are going to seem obscure without them.

(Please see my other review for more deficiencies in the course in general.)

I would recommend instead Teach Yourself Get Started in Russian (TY Beginner's Languages). Even without the audio CD this book gives significant assistance with Russian pronunciation.
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on 11 March 2012
The CDs are an intgral part of the course and new interactive exercises link the book and audio together and contain material for use in each lesson. And you can go at your own pace!
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on 1 June 2011
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on 22 February 2010
I'm not at all impressed with this book. I'm using it as a course book for lessons I'm having with a class. The book spends FAR too much time teaching you about Russia and Russian Cities etc. Many people learn the language for reasons other than visiting the country, so this is of no use them and a total waste of time to learn about the culture. It asks you to do wordsearchs and scrambles, which most people find difficult enough to do in English, never mind at the end of Chapter 2 in their beginners Russian Book.

It is strange why it is sold seperately from the audio CD as neither is any good without the other.

I wouldn't recommend it as a learners guide, and definately not if you're teaching yourself. It could be okay to help with another learning method, but not on it's own. Sorry BBC!
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on 7 November 2013
This is being used as course material for a beginners course at a local college. CD is great for hearing Russian and doing the exercises from the book.
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on 28 December 2012
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