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Customer Review

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Irritating, but not without usefulness, 14 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Russian Language and People (Audio CD)
This is a thematically organised course, so how helpful you will find it depends greatly on whether your reasons for learning the language mesh well with the author's expectations.

It is worth pointing out, however, two editorial decisions which, in my opinion, significantly increase the student's task:

1) Rather than introduce the entire Cyrillic alphabet straight away, they introduce around 5 letters per chapter. Sounds good? Well, no - they don't restrict themselves to words that can be spelt with the letters covered so far (presumably because the thematic approach impedes this), instead they substitute letters from the Latin alphabet. This might work with a language, like Hindi, where there are no characters in common, but to do this when Cyrillic letters can look identical to Latin ones but sound different? - Madness!
I'd rather take a deep breath and memorise the whole alphabet than have to try to remember (for example) whether P is to be pronounced 'pee' (Latin) or 'err' (Cyrillic) depending on the typeface and chapter reached! In effect, you up learning a lot of words twice (one in the bastardized mixed form, and then again, properly, later); it also significantly decreases the speed at which the student becomes at ease in reading the Cyrillic alphabet without transliterating.

2) As a minor corollary: the script form of Cyrillic - which can differ greatly from the printed form! - is not discussed until quite late in the book; however, it is used frequently in examples of 'real Russian' in the earlier chapters, without comment.

3) The readers on the CD have different regional accents. This (as in English) can result in quite marked differences in how they pronounce certain letters. A brief discussion of this factor would have been helpful - otherwise the student is left puzzling as to why sometimes one sound is heard and sometimes another.
It is obvious to a native speaker of a language what variations in pronunciation are acceptable, and what change the meaning of the word spoken; to a beginner it is not. Whilst a full discussion of dialect would go way beyond the remit of this book, a brief discussion of the range of variations in pronunciation would have been helpful.

From my point of view, the two merits of this course are:
1) it is reasonable recent - important when discussing culture in a country where the social situation has changed so drastically over the last two decades
2) it does have a considerable quantity of aural material.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Dec 2010, 13:03:59 GMT
richuk8 says:
Thanks I was thinking of getting this, but will stick with The New Penguin Russian Course: A Complete Course for Beginners (Penguin Handbooks) I think!

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Dec 2010, 13:13:10 GMT
Alexa says:
I agree with your choice; that's the book that I used instead myself.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Dec 2010, 13:50:57 GMT
richuk8 says:
It seems great. Just starting, really, but it teaches you the alphabet and handwriting to begin with. There is also an excellent site if you search for practicerussian which has some useful tests ))

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Dec 2010, 03:48:26 GMT
Alexa says:
I agree.
If you want a really fast pace, try Learn Russian by Ian Press (which will have you reading Pushkin by the end of it!); if you want a gentler pace, I recommend Teach Yourself Get Started in Russian (TY Beginner's Languages).

Posted on 25 Jan 2015, 11:43:59 GMT
I agree with your comment about mixing Cryllic with Latin but otherwise I found this book very useful.

I paid an enormous amount for a Linguaphone course which is very poor quality materials and faint printing in small fonts. I bought this because I had great success with their Greek course. It seems that their quality has gone downhill.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jan 2015, 22:18:48 GMT
richuk8 says:
Honestly, the best training aid I found by a country mile was.... a tent! Yep. Going camping for a week, with little to do around the campsite and zero distractions other than calming mother nature and a flask of coffee was the best way I have ever found to learn. I'd reccomend it for any intense learning, not just languages. Just make sure that you leave the internet at home :)

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Apr 2017, 08:51:22 BST
Alexa says:
Self-discipline is necessary, of course, but actually the Internet really does help with language learning. For aural practice, nothing beats Skyping a native speaker (except going there, of course)!
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Location: United Kingdom

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