The continuing adventures of Steve

Sometimes I write things

Learning Russian: Part 3

Final update on my Russian learning before I jet off to Russia. Check out part 1 and part 2. This post covers January to March.


January was largely spent adding vocab and the last of the Michel Thomas units to my anki deck as I wanted to be free of that particularly time consuming aspect of my learning.

I also decided to return to The Penguin Book that I used more extensively in my earlier studies - with a much better understanding of cases and how the language works, I was able to skim the material very easily and add many words from the vocab lists to my Anki deck.

In a similar vein, I returned to several Russian language apps that I had briefly toyed with when I started learning Russian. Mostly glorified phrasebooks and half-arsed flashcard systems, I was still able to grab a bit of useful vocabulary out of them.


An unexpected business trip turned February into quite a hectic month, but luckily I had built up a large buffer of cards in January that meant I didn’t need to spend much time creating new cards - just grabbing the a few words from the Penguin Russian book and the last Michel Thomas lessons.

Given that I now have only ~60 days until April, I’ve upped the number of new Anki cards a day to 30, so as to get as much practice as possible.

I’ve also been putting a little time into basic Mandarin, following exactly the same process I’ve been using for Russian (Michel Thomas and Anki), but the focus is less here as I’ll be in more metropolitan areas and for less time.


The final batch of cards I added to my Anki deck mostly consisted of the last few ‘essential’ words - after adding them to my Anki deck, I spent the rest of the month simply working through them.

Current Progress

As I write this it is April 2nd and I will be flying to Russia in 5 days. I have stopped adding new cards to my Anki deck at this point.

Speaking/Listening I can construct many simple sentences without conscious effort, even including simple case declensions. More complicated sentences require forethought or slower speaking speeds. I’m still aware that there are complicated sentence structures that I am unable to reproduce, but I feel confident that I can convey my meaning in most cases.

Reading/Writing I can now read Cyrillic at around 70% speed for words of less than 4 syllables. I can identify many known words almost instantly and easily infer the type and sometimes meaning of an unknown word, allowing me figure out sentence structures easily.