Putin’ in the hard work

Yep you read that right.


I have decided to learn Russian. I’ve always said I wanted to get back to learning a language. I did Indonesian, French & Japanese at various times throughout my schooling but it’s been over 12 years since I studied any of them in depth. I remember picking up Japanese very easily but as my lazy self will do, I dropped it when it got harder.

Me & my fave building of all time, St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

Why Russian? you might be asking, and that’s a very good question. The answer is I’m not really sure. I have always loved the idea of Russia, dreamed of going to St Basils Cathedral and walking through the Hermitage, but I have no idea where that comes from. I finally took a holiday there in 2017 and it was everything I imagined it to be and more. The people were serious & intriguing, the vodka was cheap, the cities were incredibly beautiful and the food was carb heavy and usually revolting. Our Russian tour guide was the best mix of serious and sarcastic and she walked faster than Usain Bolt runs. Seriously we all had to jog to keep up with her. Any time you would break her rules she would turn into a Russian Ms Trunchbull and say ‘Niet’ which is No and you just knew if you said anything back you’d be executed by firing squad. Her humor took a bit of getting used to but by the end we couldn’t wait for a Chinese tour group to try cut the line and watch her drag their tour leader into a shouting match while she shoved tourists back into their place.

So here I am. Attempting Russian.

I downloaded duolingo because I have seen quite a few facebook posts from my friends learning Spanish and it seems pretty good and it’s free so if I hate learning it in a month I won’t have wasted my money (see previous blog post ‘Saving Grace’). It started off with basic words but I quickly realised the app does not teach the alphabet so I jumped on trusty Google and found me a series of videos on Youtube that made it seem easy:

The best part is all the comments on Youtube laughing at the word ‘Kak’ which is used for ‘How’. Kak Dela is ‘How are you?’ and sounds like you are saying Cock Jelly apparently

Once you get through the easy letters videos you have to go to their website for the rest but they are still free. My brain was overloading with trying to cram in all this new information and I am finding it difficult to remember exact pronunciation (and don’t even get me started on why in the bloody hell their ‘printed’ and ‘cursive’ letters are completely fucking different which adds a whole new degree of difficulty) but I have persevered every day to keep learning.

Duolingo is good at helping with that as well because it rewards you for ‘streaks’ so the more days in a row you do a lesson, the more XP you get & the higher up the ‘ladder’ you go. If you’re MEGA competitive like me you will love being in the Promotion Zone and achieving Gold League. I do at least 2 of their lessons a day, sometimes more if I’m really feeling in the zone; the day after I watched Red Sparrow I did about 15 of them. The app offers 5 types of questions within a lesson for optimal engagement:

  • Reading Russian & translating that to English
  • Giving an English sentence to translate into Russian
  • Listening to a Russian sentence and writing it in English
  • Listening to a Russian sentence and writing it in Russian
  • Listening to a Russian sentence and saying it in Russian
I don’t know what this says so I better keep practicing until I do

It also allows you to skip speaking/listening sections if you are not able to use speakers or your microphone (e.g. for me this is when I am in public doing a quick Russian sesh so i dont lose my streak and dont want anyone around me thinking I am a crazy tourist screaming COCK JELLY at my phone) which I find most appealing.

I am currently on a 32 day streak, feeling pretty confident in the basics presented on the app but still not confident on my speaking and reading phrases so maybe in another few months I will check in with my progress.

my two passions combined: Russia & Murder

My thirst for Russian has taken me beyond learning the language though and I just bought a book called St Petersburg – Three centuries of Murderous Desire by Jonathan Mills and I can’t wait to start it – But before I begin I have to finish reading my current project, Along Came A Spider by James Patterson, but i’ll leave that for another post another day…..

For now I will just say спокойной ночи всем which, if Duolingo is correct, means good night everyone

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