Day 3 Russian ‘Snapshot Challenge’

So, I gave in today. Before I could even use Duolingo I had to do something about the alphabet (Cyrillic script). I felt rather than waiting for that Eureka moment and recognising the sounds that corresponded to the letters, I would actively find out the names and sounds of those letters (are they the same things?).

How long does it take to learn the Cyrillic script?

With a quick Google search of ‘how to learn the Russian alphabet’ I came across a range of helpful advice and also resources for support. At, Dani from gave the following comment:

I would say it takes you a few hours to get started with the script. The rest is continuous practise that will happen naturally when you study the language. If you have a free afternoon or a weekend, grab a big cup of tea or maybe even some Russian sweets and just do it. Once you get started with the exercises you will see the progress really soon, I promise!

Before I got the cup of tea ready (don’t really need much persuasion ever to do that) I went back to Google and scanned through the resources available. I tried to select only a few resources to make sure that I keep focused.
This is what I have at hand and also the order I’ll do it in


1) Link Word has useful ways of remembering the letters and what they represent.
2) Another website organises the alphabet and proclaims it can also be learned in two hours by grouping the letters


I’ve always enjoyed the Innovative Language podcasts – I’ve used them for Japanese, Italian and Chinese. So here I’ve found five lessons on pronunciation. I’ve printed out the PDFs for ease. I’m hoping this will secure any knowledge.


4) YouTube
A general search for ‘russian alphabet’ has revealed a lot. I’m leaving this until last as it will be difficult to see how long it will take to find the videos I find most helpful.

So, pot of tea at the ready!

Day 2 Russian ‘Snapshot Challenge’

Still only working with Duolingo though begging for phonetic practice!

Focused on the ‘Alphabet’ lesson, I’m working on some negatives, some personal pronouns, common nouns etc. Interesting grammar structures ‘Are you an actor?’ is ‘You actor?’ in Russian. But the writing is proving difficult. I can translate and also select the correct words from the options to form sentences but writing using the keyboard is near (not always) impossible. So, I am making progress and I am noticing things in the language which means I can complete the lessons. Yet, I’m now wondering if I need to go away and do extra work on understanding the phonetics of the alphabet – simply hearing the sentences doesn’t mean I know the characters to choose. Instead I’m relying on my remembering the words. So, I went to the Duolongo website and found there some useful clarification about the sounds of the character but no audio. Early days I know but would like to work on the phonetics more so I can concentrate more easily on vocabulary and grammar.

Ёё⁰ (your) Вв (vase) Бб (bed)
Ээ (red) Нн¹ (nap) Дд¹ (dab)
Уу (soon) Хх² (Bach) Гг (gap)
Ии (meet) Йй (yes) Лл¹ (nil)
Юю (you) Рр (trilled R) Пп (poor)
Ыы³ (hit) Сс (Sam) Зз (zebra)
Яя (yard) Фф (photon) Цц (cats)
Жж⁴ (seizure) Шш⁴ (shun) Щщ⁴
Чч (cheer) Ъ and Ь⁵

A Snapshot Language Challenge

I’ve set myself  have a number of challenges over the next few months and I’ll post a little bit more on each of them in other blog posts. Today, though, I want to share a monthly challenge which might seem a bit crazy. I’m calling it my ‘snapshot language challenge’ and aim to spend just a month working on it just to see what happens and even if I want to take it further.

Resource: Duolingo

Language: Russian

Time: 15mins

I’ve been using Duolingo for some time for Italian. I often find it a nice app on my android to brush up on my skills or to finish the evening off doing something short and snappy which involves, reading, writing, speaking and listening. Recently I’ve been thinking a new language so looked at the other ones available for English speakers. As I did this I wondered just how far can it teach me a language? If I ignored books, websites etc and just used Duo, where would I be at the end of a month? Indeed, can I really ignore other resources? Will I be able to figure out the grammar? Tackle the pronunciation? So, rather than using languages I have some awareness of I decided to choose the only one that I have no knowledge or experience of whatsoever. Russian. Here goes.

Day 1 – ‘Alphabet’

Installed the Russian keyboard (!) and have started ‘Basics’ lessons. So sentences today have included simple sentences – ‘This is Tom’, ‘where is the house?’ etc. Here I noticed that there seem to be two words for ‘and’ not sure if there are rules for which you use but I have used both correctly. I’ve also used words for ‘aunt’, ‘cat’, ‘where’, ‘house’. I noticed that there is no word for ‘is’ or ‘are’  it looks like it’s not there in Russian. I’ll keep a look out on that. In terms of ‘Duo’ itself, there have been no speaking exercises yet – maybe that will come later? The listening has been good – all words and sentences have audio.