Russian Roundup – July 2017

with 12 Comments

Привет Август! Hello August!

This month I’m joining up again with the cool language learners in the #ClearTheList community, like Lindsay (Lindsay Does Languages), Shannon (Eurolinguiste), Kris (Actual Fluency), and Angel (French Lover). If you have a language blog and you could also use some public accountability when it comes to your goals, join the group by clicking on the image below.

Set your language learning goals as a part of the Clear the List Link Up hosted by Shannon Kennedy of Eurolinguiste, Lindsay Dow of Lindsay Does Languages, Angel Pretot of French Lover, and Kris Broholm of Actual Fluency


In July, my husband and I explored the local public library. There’s not much on offer about learning Russian (just books for beginners), but there’s way more than I thought there would be in Russian.

The library had lots of current Russian newspapers as well as my favorite guilty read: the woman’s magazine Лиза!

In the end, I checked out an English-language book on Soviet cuisine. While there are some recipes included, the book focuses more on the stories behind the foods, like how national dishes from one country became popular in other countries and how the USSR dealt with food shortages. For example, “Mimosa Salad: A Symphony of Taste” mentions that although the government opened large-scale fish canneries in the 1940s, canned fish wasn’t popular with Soviet citizens at first. What to do? The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov, had an idea; he announced that smugglers were hiding pearls in these same cans. Word spread and people soon rushed to buy as many cans as they could, hoping to come across one containing more than just fish. If you like random little stories like that, this is your kind of book.


On to the roundup!

Что нового

I seriously spent about half of July laughing through posts from an amazing blog. (The other half of the month I spent forwarding the same posts for my husband to read, haha.) Try a few of these and see what you think:

Also very funny: Steven Colbert on this Russian comedy talk show…


… and Crazy Russian Dad on Facebook:


Speaking of humor, a friend in Kharkiv, Ukraine sent me a link to this: Ужасы Харькова. As she put it, “текст воспринимай с юмором.” 😉


Review of July Goals




It felt really good to do something with these languages, since I usually ignore them entirely. I’d forgotten how nice it is to see and hear Spanish, for example. But learning Chinese is a weird one… it’s more a shared curiosity between me and my husband than anything else. While we skipped both of the Chinese meetups in July, we did finish Dmitri Petrov’s video and had (a huge disaster of) a lesson on preply.



Translation stats: it was another slow summer month. My favorite project manager was on vacation for several weeks. I worked on 7 tasks, a total of about 2,000 words. The most challenging assignment = terms and services for an online gaming community. It was dry and full of loanwords. I had the most fun with a marketing questionnaire task.

Finished Chapter 1: At The Airport in Schaum’s Russian Vocabulary. Next up is Chapter 2: On The Airplane!

LinguaLink will match you up with a Russian pensioner for language practice, but the time zones can make it tough to get matched. I did email the organizer this month, but there’s still no one available at my times. Instead, I’m going to try out HelloTalk for “anytime” Russian practice.

ANKI + penpals? Nope, nope, nope. But…

…I finally read an entire book in Russian!! 😀 Jasilyn from Coffee & Cleveland sent this bilingual version of Mary Poppins. It wasn’t very long- 12 chapters, I think?- and I read each chapter out loud. Now my mother-in-law is reading it to improve her English.


I was so excited to actually finish a book that I went straight into a second one: доктор айболит: путешествие в страну обезьян. It had been gathering dust on my bookshelf for years. Watch out, small Russian children… I’m catching up to your reading level, haha.




August Study Plan


Reading is a new direction for me. I reeeeeally want to develop a consistent reading habit in languages other than English. Every single other time I’ve tried to do this, I’ve failed. Does anyone have any tips on how to do it?

Also, I want to make a special space to study in our home- have all books, notebooks, etc. in one place.

About the canned response… do you recognize this situation?

Native speaker: Hey, you’re speaking my language! Wow, good job!

You: Oh no, actually I’m really bad at it. And I need to practice more. And I think I made a bunch of mistakes. And…

In August I’m going to sit down and write out a list of better things to say, starting with a simple “thank you” not followed by a bunch of excuses.



What are your language goals for August 2017?

Leave me a comment below! ?

12 Responses

  1. Elena
    | Reply

    The story of pearls hidden in canned fish was hilarious, I love to learn random little facts like this one.
    Well done on finishing your first book in Russian and getting some Spanish and Chinese done!
    It took me a bit to create a reading habit, but it worked to set some time for it after turning off my computer and phone, so the book can get my full attention. Usually it’s the last thing I do before sleeping, even just a page or two per day if I’m tired. I also find useful to create an entry for it on my habit tracker: I just add a little cross next to “Reading” every day, and if I see there are many days without a cross then I know I need to do better!

    Good luck with your studies and projects for August!

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      So glad you enjoyed the story, Elena! And thank you for your reading ideas… I think I’m getting a lot closer to making it a consistent habit!

  2. Anne-Marie O'Neill
    | Reply

    What a nice surprise to find so many new resources at your library! It looks like you’re flying ahead with your reading practice – all the best for August!

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Thank you, Anne-Marie 🙂 By the way, the “stealth teaching” plan got a little less stealthy… but in a good way. My husband and I are going pick 5 useful Mandarin phrases, then book a Skype lesson and spend an hour perfecting those phrases together with the tutor. Then we can use them at home, like you do with your partner, ie. “Would you like tea?” “Yes!”

  3. Trisha
    | Reply

    I love the idea of a language corner. I am impressed that you completed your first book in Russian well done AND still managed to get some Spanish and Chinese in too – very impressive. Best of luck with your goals for August!

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Thanks, Trisha! I hope you have a wonderful August and spend many happy hours immersed in Spanish, Mandarin, and German!

  4. Angel
    | Reply

    Good luck for your August goals 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures of your language corner – great ideas.

    Regarding developing reading routine, my advice would be to do it first thing in the morning. That’s when you have the most willpower, meaning when you are most likely to actually follow through.
    Another thing I started doing this month (and forgot to mention in my #clearthelist article) is using a special notebook for my goals. On top of pages for the year, quarter and month, I have a double-page (left + right page) for each week, which is cut in 8 parts, the first part is for the weekly goals and then there is a page for each day. So not only I set weekly and daily goals (this I was doing before already but I used to trash the lists afterwards) but I get to do it neatly, put green ticks next to each completed goal, and lastly keep them and be able to see them forever. It’s great for accountability, as I pretty much complete my list *just* to feel proud when I look at it later. – you could try something similar for your reading routine. It might help.

    All the best,

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Oooh, I like that notebook idea, Angel! Maybe you’ll share a picture of your notebook for next month’s #clearthelist? I hope to have a language corner picture to share by then 🙂 Still need to corral everything and find a place for it all, haha.

      Thanks for sharing your reading ideas with me!

  5. Dorothée
    | Reply

    Good luck with your goals!!
    I love your graphic display for the goals by the way!

    • Katherine
      | Reply

      Thank you, Dorothée! I hope you’re having a great August!

  6. Shannon
    | Reply

    That video with Stephen Colbert is hilarious. Thank you for sharing it.

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