You’ve decided you want to learn Russian. Congratulations on the decision, because learning a new language can be one of the most rewarding things a person can do for themselves. It also opens you up to a whole new world of opportunities for friends, conversations and business contacts that you would never have had otherwise. Now the only thing left to figure out is how to go about it.
Should you use audio tapes? Software? Books? A tutor? There are so many options it can actually be intimidating to get started. Here’s a hint though; when you started to learn English as a baby, you did it by interacting with other English speakers. Believe it or not, as an adult, that method still works wonders.
Language materials like books and audio courses can still help, but the main issue with these kinds of mediums is that they’re entirely one sided. You sit there and go over the pages or listen to the tapes, hour after hour, taking it all in. The only problem is that nothing is going out. Communication is, by nature, a two-way medium, and you just can’t learn languages effectively by listening alone.
Just like when you were a baby learning English, you’ve got to be able to try out all of those new words and phrases you’ve learned through listening. You just can’t do that without actually having a human being to converse with. Having a learning partner who speaks Russian themselves allows you to bounce ideas off of them, ask them for help when you’re unsure, and get immediate feedback on your mistakes and progress.
That’s a kind of intimate, one-on-one learning that no book or CD could ever deliver, and it’s also the key to succeeding. It’s well known that the best way to learn any language is through immersion. However, for most people, moving to Russia just isn’t an option! By pairing up with a Russian speaking language partner, you can simulate the experience and gain many of the same benefits.
So before you break the bank on expensive software, textbooks, or audio courses, you owe it to yourself to consider a language partner. If you’re really serious about learning Russian, it’ll provide you with a learning environment unmatched by any prepackaged course, and the end result will be a faster, higher quality learning experience, and a much better mastery of the Russian language.