Russian Language Challenge

I’ve been learning Russian for a while now.  I would consider myself somewhat of a language nerd, but embarrassingly, I am 31 and I still can’t really speak a foreign language.  Time to get real about this.

My goal

I want to be able to do everything in my social life in Russian by the end of March.

Some examples of this could be:

  • watching a Russian movie and understanding most of it
  • understanding most news reports entirely in Russian
  • talking with friends about whatever is going on in their lives
  • telling stories or making jokes

How I will to do it

For the last two weeks of December, I have attempted to revive what I’ve learned over the past 5 years.  I have used Learning With Texts to study children’s fairy tales, Couchsurfing posts, and the news.  I also put together flash cards using Anki for the most common Russian words.

We will be in Ohio just after the the holidays and it will be the perfect opportunity to speak Russian with Lena and her family.  I’ll do my best to use as little English as possible, even pulling out a dictionary if I need to, but only reverting to English when I really can’t find what I’m trying to say.

After spending a couple of weeks in Ohio with family, we’ll be back in Chicago and staying with Lena’s sister while we get established again.  I plan to speak no English at home.  Also, just to change things up a bit, I will try out Verbling and make some friends on iTalki.

Are you ready to get real about language learning?  What are your language goals?  How do you plan to achieve them?


  • aaronogan


  • Good luck Aaron! I don’t think I can match you on this challenge… See if you can find Russian subtitles to go along with the Russian movies you watch – it helps to see the words along with the sounds… though, I guess Russian is harder to read. Let us know what you discover along the way and what works the best 🙂

  • Have you tried ?

    • I hadn’t heard of it, but I have been using something similar, called Memrise. It’s really awesome.

  • I feel for ya, Aaron! I have exact same situation at home with my hubby. Many attempts have been done to speak solely in Russian… but it can’t last for longer than an hour. The main reason – I end up switching to English.. Russian is hard with all the prefixes, suffixes, endings that confuse the listener… It’s great that you are trying! I would love to read a write up on what helped the most.

    • Thanks, Ira! So far Learning with Texts and Memrise have been helping greatly. Also, Lena has been helping me with a lot of questions I’ve had. I am really starting to pick up on cases while reading but still struggling with speaking a bit.

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