Learning a language can be very difficult, especially if you only work on it in the classroom. The best way to learn is to take what you learn in class and apply it to your everyday life. For first-time Russian students, this language can be incredibly complex, leading people to have little motivation to use their skills in their normal lives. This is why I am providing you with three simple steps on how to improve your Russian skills and use them more frequently!
1. Reach out to your teachers
Your teachers probably have a ton of ideas to suggest! They also will love to see that you are interested in pursuing Russian, and not just focusing on getting through the class. They will probably suggest using flashcards to learn vocabulary, and movies, television shows, books, and music artists that you could look into. These different media will give you a better understanding of not only the language, but the culture.
2. Get in contact with your Russian department
I work at the Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures Department at Ohio State University. It is a wonderful place to work at because I get to know the faculty and teachers within my department before I even have them for classes. I also get more exposure to Russian than I normally would, such as interacting with and sorting Russian novels from the Soviet Union, or captioning videos of Russian lecturers who give talks at the department. I would suggest reaching out to your department to see if they are hiring early in the school year. If you are not interested in working for your department, I would still recommend contacting them about their future events! These events might be lectures, social gatherings, or movie nights. Regardless if you go to a large or small school, your Russian or Slavic department is a great resource for expanding your interactions with the Russian language.
3. Join Russian and Slavic Clubs
These clubs connect people who are passionate about the same things! Making connections with other students outside of the classroom is a great tool when learning a language. These students will help keep you motivated in your studies as well as give recommendations on how to widen your connection with Russian media. If you are lucky enough, your school might host “language tables”, where a small group of students studying the same language can practice their skills and get to know one another. These language tables are a great way to keep up your language capabilities without the fear of making mistakes in front of a class.
These are just a few ideas on how to get started on your journey of embracing Russian culture. After this, you will be on your way to becoming fluent and will find more and more ways to include Russian in your everyday life! And who knows, you might find that your new favorite movie or book is Russian!
Удачи в обучении! (Good luck with your learning!)