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Abandon Russian

January 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Just decided to type up some thoughts on the best way to go about learning English.
1. A language is closer to being a skill rather than knowledge (although it’s probably not exactly a skill)
2. Knowing the grammar can potentially help at the beginning as it sort of sheds light on where you should be going.
3. However, at some point you should transition from studying about your language of choice (i.e. studying the rules) to trying to acquire your new language.
4. the question is how does acquisition happens; recently the most popular answer to this question has been that it happens through being exposed to comprehensible input in your new language. In layman’s terms this simply means that you want to read and hear as much stuff in your language of choice as possible, plus all this stuff you read and hear must be comprehensible, i.e. you must be able to understand it. Supposedly all the grammar and vocab will sink into your subconscious. Some extreme apologists of this theory suggest that studying grammar is evil. I wouldn’t go as far. From my own experience I can say that sometimes, especially when the amount of input you’ve been exposed to isn’t that great yet, reading a book or two and doing some exercises can help things fall into place in your head. So don’t go throwing your grammar books away just yet.
So now to some practical advice to those precious few that ever read this blog: the way I see it, if you’re studying English, you want to be in an ‘English-speaking’ environment, if you can’t move to an English speaking country just yet, take heart and don’t give up, you can try and create an ‘artificial’ English speaking environment for yourself. Start with the interface of your operating system, change it to English, these days people spend lots of time at their computers. Then the news, you want to learn about what’s been happening in the world, go to an English resource, bbc, guardian, cnn, or even Moscow times. Get a gmail account and switch the language settings to English. If there’s a subject you’re interested in, read about it in English and so on and so forth, hope you get the idea.
Again imho, discussing the finer points of English usage and grammar in Russian is a waste of time.
And audio books are a great help.

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