Learn Russian through work with books

Hi everyone! My name is Alexander and I’m a native Russian speaker.
I know that a lot of people who are learning languages have problems learning since they lack a plan, and don’t know the way how to learn.

It’s a little easier to structure it when you have a teacher, but what if you don’t have one? Or you have one, but want to progress faster? Here’s the answer – you need to work with books.

As a person who encountered the same problem, I created this system.

I will explain that here and hope you will find it useful.

This system includes 7 steps:

  1. You’ll need to choose a book relevant to your level of language understanding. You can use the regular European system of levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) or your own.
  2. Then choose your limit of pages that you will work with in every session. Don’t take on too much, just about 3-5 pages/session. Because it will be better if you prepare these 3-5 pages excellently, than to prepare more than 5 hurriedly.
  3. The first time of reading these pages, mark new words for yourself and try to understand the main idea of this part of the book. Also, you’ll need to choose one small part for reading aloud and another part of the text for memorizing.

    Then write the words that you just marked, in a special notebook/file and translate all of them. After that it would be better if you’d learn them by heart. Don’t mark identical words in the text (for example, if you see a new word, you mark it and then if you see the same word again – don’t mark it again!).
  4. The second time you read through, is for writing down a summary of how you would describe what you read in your own words. This should consist of 15-25 sentences.

    For the first time you will use whole sentences from a book, and then your own. Later on you will write just a couple of words for your own notes.
  5. Then you need to read the part that you chose for reading, and learn by heart another one for memorizing.

    This step will improve your articulation and also will improve your memory.

    When you read your chosen text, remember how to pronounce the words in a sentence and how to combine them. It’s not really necessary to take huge parts of text for this exercise or to read a whole text. Because when you read a complete text, it will be easy to make a lot of mistakes in pronunciation and worsen your language skills.

    The part for reading has to be bigger, than the part for memorizing.

    I suggest to read and to memorize descriptive passages, then dialogs. Working with dialogs is already a different system, and therefore the goal is different.
  6. After that, you’ll need to read the whole text a third time for full understanding.

    It’s necessary to do this reading with a full list of translated words and prepared parts of text (for reading and learning by heart).
  7. Then, you need to summarize this text to your teacher or friend. You can also record your summary and listen to it after that.
    (Use step 4 in this phase.)
    Remember that you need to include the part you memorized in your spoken summary.
    The part for reading has to be read to your partner before retelling or recording. You need to put this part in your plan and say what you read in your own words during your retelling. The part learnt by heart just joins into your retelling naturally.

    If you have a teacher/friend, they should listen to your summary and ask you some questions about this text. Sure, this option is better than a recording, because you can interact with someone and have them correct your mistakes.
    If you have this opportunity, ask your helper to read the text beforehand and prepare 5-10 questions about this part of book. That would help you to understand the language that you will need to learn and step-by-step you will speak fluently. After all, our conversations consist 80% of the time in asking questions and replying to them.

    The option to record is also fine, but not ideal as I said before. You need to record your summary, then listen to it and try to hear all the mistakes that you’ve made. Better to write them down and record it again, already without those mistakes.

    This kind of work is hard, but the rewards are great:

    • You improve your memory by learning new words and parts of text.
    • You improve your articulation by reading the whole text out loud and by asking and answering questions.
    • You begin to speak like a native speaker because you use phrases and words from the literature of language that you learn. And also during the conversation with your partner you begin to be more confident and relaxed in a dialogue.
    • And also this system disciplines you.

Now I want to show you an example of working with this system in pictures with my comments:

  1. Choose a book.

  2. Choose a limited number of pages (for example: 4).

  3. The first reading you do, is for marking new words and choosing the parts for reading and memorizing.
    I marked the words by underlining. For separating the parts I used brackets. (You can see that in the previous pictures).

    And don’t forget to write down the new words with their translation!

  4. Now is time for the second reading and writing of the summary.

  5. Now the parts for reading and memorizing (read one out aloud and learn the other by heart).



  6. Now, just repeat the whole text (the third reading) with the list of translated words and prepared parts for reading and memorizing.
  7. And finally retell the story to your partner or record it.

So, I really hope that you’ll find this system useful and interesting.

Also, please feel free to write to me, take lessons and ask any questions. We will have all the materials for your level and begin to work.

Thanks for your attention and good luck studying!