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One of the important skills for those who want to successfully communicate foreign language is an ability to understand fluent speech. It is true not only for advanced students who are trying to improve their speaking skills or who just keep up with the language, but also for those who just started their journey.


In this article we will give some advice for the students who learn Russian as a foreign language online or in real time.


There are multiple online sources where you can watch news or talk-shows for this purpose, for example news releases at home page of Russian News channel «НТВ»


How you can use news sources? Useful tips.


Take a look at the video releases that are currently offered. Each release has some useful information below, e.g.


Date & time:28.01.2010, 20:18    *Note: in Russia we put dates as dd-mm-yyyy
Title: Новая эра мобильной электроники
Tags: Apple, компьютеры, новинки,


If it is hard for you to translate the title, use tags to determine whether this release is of interest for you. It is easier to start from those topics that are referred to international events (not Russian). It is very likely that you have already heard or read about them in your native language. Thus, familiarity with the content it may help you to guess the meaning of the words and phrases instead of translating them using vocabulary.


When you have made your choice, first listen to the news release. Your final goal is to write a summary of these paragraphs or of the whole piece. In this summary you will use words that are relevant to the topic, but what is most important, the words and phrases that you find useful. Depending on your level of comfort and familiarity with the topic try to minimize the text reading and give the preference for listening. It is likely that you won’t understand everything. Do not be disappointed! On average these reports are 3-4 minutes long, so they have a lot of information and new language material.


However it is helpful to know that the most important information will be in first two-three paragraphs. Try to focus just on them at this point. So after you have listened for the whole piece you can start reading these first two-three paragraphs. Do not rush to look up at the vocabulary! You can underline those words that you already know, or vice versa mark those that are unfamiliar.


Listen to the news release (the part that is equivalent to those two-three paragraphs) once again while comparing it with the text.


Find words that might look familiar to you. Russian language during its long history has borrowed a lot of words from languages such as Latin (almost any area), German (science terms), English (IT, business terms), French (art). If you find them mark them, try to read them out loud – the latter will help you to draw parallels with your native language. Make your best guess on the meaning of these words.


Now focus just on listening to the news at this point. You might want to listen several times. Put one goal at a time: pay attention to how the words you are familiar with are pronounced, make a guess about their meaning if you have not yet; pay attention to the words you already know and the context they are used with; try to write down these phrases and later compare your version with the text; find the most important information so you can write one-sentence summary.


To make a summary, first answer the questions. You can start by just picking relevant words from paragraphs. For example,


Где?          в Сан Франциско
Когда?        сегодня ночью
Что?          гаджет, компания «Эппл», компьютер «Айпэд», ноутбук
Кто?          Стив Джобс
Что сделал (-a, -и)?   представил


*although some of these words might be hard to find by just listening to the report

Again it might depend on the level of comfort but try to listen to the release, and refer to the text when understanding becomes challenging.


Then move on using these words in context, i.e., either in phrases or sentences. You might still need to look up at the right word, though.


Сегодня ночью в Сан Франциско Стив Джобс представил новый гаджет. Это компьютер «Айпэд»...


As you move along and learn new words try to put them down in the relevant context, use them in phrases that are used in the release. You can read more about that in Collocations by Ann.


When you feel like you have accomplished what you have planned (first paragraphs or the whole news release), you can test yourself. One way to do that is to find same news release but introduced by other Russian channels.


Are you able to understand the general idea?
Are you noticing the difference in the way news is presented?
Did the channel present some new information that was not mentioned in НТВ release?


You can even move further by trying to translate the same news releases presented at your local programs. Try to use the new material you have picked up. Here your goal is not to give extensive and elaborate translation, but rather implement what you have picked up by listening НТВ. Be creative by applying what you have learned and keeping your dictionary as the last resort.


Good luck with studying Russian as a foreign language!


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You can also take a free test on our site to check your level of Russian.

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