Russian Recall and Power Sentences: Part II

Russian Recall and Power Sentences: Part II
11 July 2016

So in my last post (Russian Recall and Power Sentences: Part I, check it out) I gave two broad ideas for how to use memorization to cement Russian words, phrases, grammar principles, etc. into your everyday Russian speech. As strange as it may be, I’m going to skip the 1st point, and go straight to the 2nd. It is as follows:

2. Build POWER SENTENCES to make your memorization efficient and organized.

I came up with the idea of Power Sentences while studying specific words and phrases I needed to know right then. I’m talking really commonplace things like verbs of motion, cases, commonplace items and things. Whether it’s super general or super specific though, you need something personal you can relate to, and a phrase you know you will be able to use in the real world. As helpful as workbooks and textbooks are for giving examples, the examples given don’t fit this realistic perspective. I mean let’s be honest, you want to be able to say something in 3 words rather than in 20.

Power Sentences, on the other hand, are created by you, for the specific principles you are studying. The purpose is to combine as many vocab words, grammar principles, prepositions, cases, and unusual language rules into one sentence as possible so you can memorize them all at once. Thus, by memorizing one phrase, you have a clear mental illustration of several words and grammar rules to be used later, rather than just a single word for every memorized phrase. Used often, these phrases will form mental building blocks and larger language construction pieces you can pull out of your utility belt whenever you need them. They can quickly go from a single phrase to multiple different pieces you switch fluidly into regular conversations.

Also worthy to mention: Power Sentences don’t always have to make a lot of sense! Its good if they do, but be creative! Switching things up occasionally keeps the brain going.  The more unique they are, the easier they will be to remember. Make them your own, for your own personal needs. For example:

“Я застегнул свою дубленку чтобы защитить себя от диких обезьян, и надел свои новые кеды.”

You don’t get much more ridiculous than: “I zipped up my leather coat to protect myself from the wild monkeys, and put on my new Converse (or Vans)” But that’s the beauty of Power Sentences! I’m working on clothing terminology, and I need verbs, nouns and proper grammar structure. Let your own language needs dictate the phrases you need.

Now I need to keep studying(:

(Look out for Part III, where it ALL comes together)

Mark Kennedy, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Riga

Posted by Mark Kennedy

Всем Привет! My name is Mark Kennedy, and I’m currently studying Russian at the Liden and Denz Language Center in Riga, Latvia! To say I’m excited to be here is a severe understatement. Currently I'm going into my fourth year at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where I'm enrolled as a dual-degree candidate, earning two degrees in Russian Language and Literature, and French Horn Performance. I started my study of Russian during a two-year mission for my church in St. Petersburg, Russia. Probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done! My language learning started off as kind of a trial by fire: with only 12 weeks of training beforehand, I was thrown into Russia and expected (to attempt, at least) to hold full on conversations with people. In the beginning it wasn’t pretty, but the sink or swim mentality of it all forced me to work hard from the start, and motivated me to really overcome any issues I had quickly. Combined with a personally guided plan of language study and some study materials, I came to love the language and the Russian people a TON! Two years later and I’m still studying it… Outside of Russian language, my French Horn degree keeps me busy. Favorite composer is probably Richard Strauss, and my favorite symphonic work is The Rite of Spring Suite by Stravinsky. (Debussy Piano pieces are my favorite non-symphonic works). I’m also into basically anything arts related: singing, dancing, listening to Maroon 5, drawing Sharpie art, going to art exhibits, going to orchestra concerts, etc. In terms of sports, I was a collegiate rower for the University of Michigan in 2011-2012, when we won the National Champions Team Trophy, and I play Ultimate Frisbee. I’m excited for this opportunity to write for Liden & Denz, and to share my enthusiasm and excitement about Riga and the Russian language!

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