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Self-taught courses
Old 04-24-2014, 05:12 PM   #1
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Self-taught courses

I dropped out of a Russian degree course during my late 20s, for personal reasons. (I was doing very well on the course.) I already had a degree, so getting another qualification doesn't matter to me, but learning Russian feels like unfinished business to me. I have a huge number of dreams about it. I'm too tired to study while working, but I am expecting to retire (or nearly - I'll still do just a little work) this year.
I wouldn't want to complete the degree, but the thought of doing the 'year in Russia' part of it has gone through my mind, but then I think that it's not necessary these days. There are so many resources for self-study (including some great online resources, and even private lessons by Skype, if I so choose).
I don't deny that I might learn more in Russia, but when I weigh up all factors (including cost, convenience, enjoyment and being with my partner), staying home wins hands down.
So I'm left with this idea that I'll give myself a course from home (raising the questions of 'will I get sidetracked?' and 'does it really matter if I do?').
Has anyone done or thought about the same kind of thing, or just have any thoughts on the subject.
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Old 04-24-2014, 06:07 PM   #2
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Our library has online language courses. We may work on one if we decide it would be helpful for travel. Otherwise foreign languages are not something I am good at so I wouldn't tackle one without a practical need.
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Old 04-25-2014, 05:03 PM   #3
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I enjoy studying languages and have always done it, in fits and spurts. With all of the on-line opportunities, it is a lot easier. You can watch you-tubes and TV, listen to radio, participate in conversation exchanges, Skype tutors, and find tons of written material. There are lots of blogs and forums devoted to language learning too. OTOH, spending time living in the country will be more productive. Learning languages is hard and a continuous process, but studies have shown that hour for hour adults actually learn faster than children.
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Old 04-25-2014, 07:37 PM   #4
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I'm not sure I have as many opportunities as some of you, as I am based in a small town in New Zealand. We don't have access to Russian TV, or radio as far as I am aware. But there is a great website with webcast recordings and transcripts and exercises. And I have lots of books.
I don't think I explained my original post very well, though. I have actually taught myself languages before. What I was wondering was whether anyone had thought of embarking on self-tuition in any subject with a similar level of seriousness and intensity to a taking a full-time university course, as a cheaper alternative to actually taking a university course..
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Old 04-25-2014, 11:47 PM   #5
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The issue of on-line courses is very active right now. Universities are struggling with how to provide on-line courses for credit. I know you aren't pursuing a degree but if the universities don't think they can give credit then that says something about quality of the online offerings. Something to think about.

Otherwise, I would do both. Get as much as you can online and visit Russia for a shorter time period.
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Old 04-26-2014, 02:17 AM   #6
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I have been listening to a few history courses on Audible, which I enjoy a lot because it is passive learning and it allows me to move at my own pace. I tried a few classes on EdX as well but I am not interested in taking classes that require a lot of homework. I was in school for almost 25 years, I've done enough of that.
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Old 04-26-2014, 03:26 AM   #7
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I'm not sure I have as many opportunities as some of you, as I am based in a small town in New Zealand. We don't have access to Russian TV, or radio as far as I am aware. But there is a great website with webcast recordings and transcripts and exercises. And I have lots of books.
I don't think I explained my original post very well, though. I have actually taught myself languages before. What I was wondering was whether anyone had thought of embarking on self-tuition in any subject with a similar level of seriousness and intensity to a taking a full-time university course, as a cheaper alternative to actually taking a university course..
Sorry, I was not very clear. There are tremendous on-line resources available. You can live in NZ and easily study Russian. Google around for on-line TV. The ProTV app is the one I use on my iPad. Conversationexchange.com, italki.com, and rosettastone.com (and others) will provide you with free conversation partners. As an English speaker, you have gold to spend! Benny the Irish polyglot, word reference, and omniglot are all forums where you can talk to other language learners.

Yes, you will learn faster in a university setting where you go to class on schedule, but no you don't have to do it that way. Even if you take a class, you will make better progress if you talk to people in your target language outside of class. Language learning is a process. You never reach a point where you have "learned a language" and the amount of time you spend counts.
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Old 04-26-2014, 08:41 AM   #8
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If you like drills, you can get free courses here:
FSI Language Courses - Home

Reading blogs or magazines about subjects you like will expand your vocabulary much faster than drilling boring vocab about dorm life in a class.

My Spanish physical therapist speaks German to his mom, French to his wife and studies Russian by Skype with a woman who lives in Australia.
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Old 04-26-2014, 02:10 PM   #9
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Thanks for all of your replies. This has given me something to think about.
I also don't like the idea of the pressure of homework. And I like being able to choose what to study. On a degree programme, a lot of time is spent writing literature essays in English. Even on the year in Russia, there are things that don't interest me, such as studying archaic texts.
But I should keep an eye on online courses, as there might be individual papers that could interest me.
And I should look into online TV and radio. The webcasts I referred to are news recordings slightly slower than normal ones, so they would be good to start with, but I'll keep a note of the resources mentioned here to look into later.
Thanks.
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Old 04-26-2014, 02:19 PM   #10
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I've just been taking a look at conversation exchanges, and also at the FSI courses.
Both look very promising.
Thanks for all this help.
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Old 04-26-2014, 10:32 PM   #11
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I've taken a look at italki.com, and that has actually got me quite excited. I already knew Skype lessons existed, but they are available here much cheaper than I had previously seen, so it's something I'm more likely to do at an earlier stage.
Now, I just need to reach my financial target for retirement...
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Old 04-27-2014, 01:37 AM   #12
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If it helps to maintain your motivation, you can also take certification tests for improving levels of most languages. The EU has defined multiple levels of language skill and most countries offer periodic testing at remote sites. I'm not sure how Russian is tested, but there appears to be a program. The French program is administered through the Alliance Franšaise, for example.
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Old 04-27-2014, 03:15 AM   #13
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Also, be sure to poke around You Tube. There are all kinds of interesting videos. An astonishing number of people like to post patient explanations of grammar points and pronounciation. You can listen to someone explain how to roll a French R over and over until you get it right. That's a lot more helpful than listening to a professor run through it live one time. You can also watch music vids, see dumb pet tricks narrated in your target language, etc. People are really enthusiastic about sharing their languages.

Quizlet is a good, free way to build vocabulary card decks. Doulingo is a free resource for beginner learning and review. Benny the Irish polyglot has a cool on-line tool for reading texts as a method for building vocabulary. Ditto the Amazon Kindle, but I'm not sure about the availability of Russian. Wikipedia, of course, has a jillion interesting articles to read in 30-some languages, some with audio. Listening to text while reading it in the target language is superb for oral comprehension. I use Verbi and Verbos apps for verb conjugation practice, but that particular company doesn't have a Russian version, however there are some others available for a few dollars.

Anyway, the resources for language learning have expanded radically since you were at university!
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Old 04-27-2014, 02:03 PM   #14
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Thanks for these additional resources.
I've never looked into U-tube before, but I will.
Back when I was at university, computers and the internet did exist, but I hadn't ever used them. And of course the material available has increased exponentially since then. I'm aware of some of it, but there is always more to discover.
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