How to Learn 100 Russian Words a Day

Let’s talk about how many words you need to know to feel confident.

According to different sources 1000 Russian words cover 60% of every day speech demands. So the first 3000 most frequently used words comprise about 80% everyday dialogues and written texts. Knowing these words lets us understand the remaining from the context. Let’s consider that number fundamental and make it your first big goal. It’s important! These 3000 words must be the «right» ones and in most frequent use. Linguists make lists of such words regularly and you can easily find them for any language. 

We have determined the number of words and found them, now let’s move to the most exciting part. So, how to learn new Russian words fast and remember them forever?

Method of Associations

Our memory tends to capture for long those words that arouse bright emotions and associations. It’s the essence of association method. And let’s see how it works — for example, you need to remember the word «лук» — «onion». You build an association with familiar language: «лук» — «look», and support it with a bright story — it’s impossible to «look» (at smth) when you’re cutting «лук».

Method of Interval/Spaced Repetition

It was created by a German scientist Sebastian Leitner. Experience of my students proves it to be the most effective method. It implies repeating words in certain time intervals. Recommended time intervals: 15 minutes, 60 minutes, the next day, in 3 days, in 10 days, in 30 days, in 90 days. 

As for practicing. Prepare flash cards — on one side write the word in your native language, on the other side — the word in Russian. On the first day you study the list of 100 words, repeat them in 15 and 60 minutes. You may put the words that you remember well enough into box number 1. The words that you struggle with stay in the box «New words». The next day you first repeat the words from box 1. The procedure is the same. If you remember the word quickly, you may put the card into box 2, and repeat it next time. If not, put it into «New words» box. And so on.

One repetition takes up about 10% of time that you spend on learning. It’s very important not to miss repetitions. Because if you miss even one word it will drastically lower the percentage of words, that you will be able to remember. And you will have to spend time for learning again. The worst part is that you’re losing motivation as well. 

If you don’t have desire to bother with cards, there’re two other options:

  • Buy cards with suggested words.
  • Use apps with interval repetitions. The best are Anki, Memrise and LinguaLeo.

Why is this method so good?

The point is when people complain about “bad memory”, not everybody understands how it works. Memory is not only about taking in new information, it’s also about the ability of rendering and keeping that information the right way. The goal of repetition is to advance quick rendering of a new word and make it automatiс.

A few more tips

  • Learn words in phrases or sentences.
  • Group words in themes. Draw your very own mind maps.
  • Take with you word cards that are waiting to be learned, or use apps. Let the new words be available anytime anywhere.
  • Use new words in speech.
  • Think in Russian.
  • Engage your friends and family — the  more, the merrier.
  • Read as many text as you can for your level.
  • Watch films and cartoons in Russian.

Our brain operates in such a way that every word not being used is forgotten. Let your brain understand that you need it. More often you address a certain word in your memory, the easier it would be each time.

An average Russian teenager graduates from school with word-stock of about 1500 words, now you know HOW to complete 11 year program in two weeks.

Best wishes on your journey of learning and enriching your Russian vocabulary! 

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