Russian Recall and Power Sentences: Part I

Russian Recall and Power Sentences: Part I
08 July 2016

Let’s be honest, learning Russian is crazy hard, ESPECIALLY at the beginning. Most give up when they have to learn words like безопасность, and other new learners switch to something a little simpler when they hear Russian has perfective and imperfective verbs, six cases and literally an exception to every grammatical “rule”(: That acceptance of every “rule” as such (quotation marks included) is an especially tricky speedbump to get over…

One of my friends here in Riga was expressing his frustration to me about all said things. It came out as something along the lines of: “I have all this stuff I need to learn, like vocab, grammar, cases, but as soon as I move onto something else, I forget what I’ve studied. I feel like I’m going in circles.”

I think every speaker of Russian struggles with this idea. From the very beginner to the most experienced, sometimes you just can’t remember that word you were studying for 20 minutes.  Now if your eventual goal is to speak Russian naturally and fluidly, where the sweet, molten honey of impeccable soft consonants and rolled R’s streams from you like the Neva through St. Petersburg, this trick might seem a little strange. It might seem a little against the grain, or unorthodox, or exactly what you think would be the WORST idea, but actually…

Memorization is one of the best ways to learn a language.

Now you’ve been with me this long, don’t give up now. Know that this does NOT mean you need to sit studying Russian with your feet in a bucket of ice water to stay awake, endlessly repeating the same things over and over. If that was true I would have given up a looooong time ago(: What I’m looking to do with these series of posts is to redefine memorization, so it’s not such a scary thing. It’s pretty simple, there are actually only two pieces to this effective memorizing puzzle:

  1. Make the memorization process as stimulating as possible. Engage multiple senses. Change up the routine often and frequently to keep it interesting.
  2. Build POWER SENTENCES to make your memorization efficient and organized.

Two super easy principles, tons of creativity and interpretation you can use. Unfortunately, the necessary space isn’t available to elaborate on those right now, SO details will follow in Part II. Check it out.

Written by 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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