Bootstrapping Russian: Grammar Lesson Two: Formality in Russian: Вы and Ты

Russian Grammar Lesson 2: Formality in Russian: Вы and Ты

  • The Russian word for ‘you’ (the second person) depends on who is being addressed.
  1. вы is used when addressing someone formally or politely.
  2. Ты is used when talking to friends and family.
  • Grammatically вы behaves just like the second person plural (‘you guys’, ‘ya’ll’).
  • So when first using вы imagine you are talking to two people.

EXAMPLES:

Ты учитель? (Are you (informal) a teacher?)
[ты is the informal ‘you’.]

Ты уже здесь? (Are you (informal) here yet?)
[ты is the informal ‘you’; уже means ‘yet’ or ‘already’.]

Вы профессор? (Are you (formal) a/the professor?)
[вы is the formal ‘you’.]

Вы русский? (Are you (formal) Russian (male)?)
[вы is the formal ‘you’; русский is the male adjective for ‘Russian’.]

Когда вы дома? (When are you (formal) at home?)
[вы is the formal ‘you’; когда means ‘when’.]

Вы всегда дома. (You (formal) are always at home.)
[вы is the formal ‘you’; всегда means ‘always’.]

Когда ты здесь? (When are you (informal) here?)
[ты is the informal ‘you’; когда means ‘when’.]

Ты никогда здесь. (You (informal) are never here.)
[ты is the informal ‘you’; никогда means ‘never’.]

Почему ты здесь? (Why are you (informal) here?)
[ты is the informal ‘you’; почему means ‘why’.]

Вы иногда там? (Are you (formal) sometimes there?)
[вы is the formal ‘you’; иногда means ‘sometimes’.]

Вы часто там? (Are you often there?)
[вы is the formal ‘you’; часто means ‘often’.]

Bootstrapping Russian: Grammar Lesson One: Personal pronouns. And the verb ‘to be’

Russian Grammar Lesson 1: Personal pronouns. And the verb ‘to be’

  • The Russian personal pronouns are: *я* (I), *он* (he), *она* (she), *мы* (we), *вы * (you, plural), *они* (they).
  • The pronoun ‘you’ (singular second person) depends on formality. This is introduced in the next topic.
  • The Russian verb ‘to be’ is omitted in the present tense. This might seem strange at first.
  • In phrases like ‘A is B’, when both A and B are nouns, a dash ‘—’ is used in place of the verb ‘to be’.

NOTE : Russian has no concept of articles like ‘a’ and ‘the’. We rely on context for this.

EXAMPLES:

Я учитель. (I am a/the teacher.)
[The article could be ‘a’ or ‘the’ from the context.]

Я русский. (I am Russian (male).)
[русский (masculine adjective) means ‘Russian’ .]

Кто он? (Who is he?)
[Кто means ‘who’; Note that the word order here is flexible – Он кто? is equally acceptable.]

Он Сергей. (He is Sergei.)

Он там. (He is (over) there.)
[там means ‘over there’.]

Кто онa? (Who is she?)

Она Ольга. (She is Olga?)

Онa здесь. (She is here.) [здесь means ‘here’.]

Они где? (Where are they?) [где means ‘where’]

Они дома. (They are at home?)
[дома mens ‘at home’ from the word дом which means ‘house’ or ‘home’]

Сергей и Ольга дома? (Are Sergei and Olga at home?)
[и means ‘and’.]

Да, они дома. (Yes, they are home?)
[да mean ‘yes’.]

Виктор — водитель. (Victor is a driver.)
[Notice the use of a dash ‘—’ when using ‘to be’ with two nouns (and no pronoun).]

Ольга — профессор. (Olga is a professor. )
[Notice the use of a dash ‘—’ when using ‘to be’ with two nouns (and no pronoun).]

Татьяна русская? (Is Tatiana Russian (female)?)
[русская (feminine adjective means ‘Russian’ ); No dash is required when a noun is used in combination with an adjective.]

Где Иван? (Where is Ivan?)
[Note that где can come either before or after the subject; Note that the word order here is flexible – Иван где? is equally acceptable.]

Вот Иван. (Here is Ivan.)
[вот means ‘here is’ – like the French ‘voilà’]

Музей там./Там музей. (The museum is (over) there.)

Вы где? (Where are you (plural)?)
[Note that the word order here is flexible – Где вы? is equally acceptable.]

Philip Crowther – fluent in six languages

This is a truly impressive multi-lingual achievement by a British-German–Luxembourgian journalist reporter called Philip Crowther.

Apparently he speaks fluently in six languages: French, Spanish, Portuguese, English, German, and Luxembourgish.

He was born in Luxembourg to a British father and German mother. At home, his father always spoke English and his mother answered in German.

He explained that he learned to speak Luxembourgish with his friends, and learned French very early, at school. In college, he added Spanish and Portuguese.

Growing up in Luxembourg, he said that young people there usually speak four languages, including French and English, taught from the age of 10 and 12 respectively. “Most of us speak four languages ​​perfectly by the time we finish school.”

From the age of 14, he started to learn Spanish and became fluent when he moved to Barcelona at 20. The following year, upon entering a university in London, he decided that it would be a good idea to learn Portuguese. He graduated in Hispanic Studies from King’s College London.

Having studied and lived in Spain, Paris and England for extended periods and this has of course helped learning with immersion. Though it didn’t all go smoothly for the him: “For me, French was the most frustrating because it was the first language learned outside the home and with a grammar that isn’t very logical.”

The ‘Phrases’ App – Learning 1000s of Phrases in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese

We are happy to announce the launch of the Phrases app on the Apple AppStore.

The new app complements our existing ‘Words’ app that focuses on teaching vocabulary. Not surprisingly, Phrases focuses on phrases – lots of phrases!

The languages available include French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. And more are coming soon.

The idea is to expose users to hundreds and hundreds of common colloquial phrases, thereby developing familiarity and a feeling for the language. This is facilitated by exercises that emphasise memorisation through reiterative exposure to each phrase, and most especially repeated immersive exposure to the sound of each phrase. This helps to develop an intuitive feel for the language.

‘Phrases’ features hundreds and hundreds of common colloquial phrases organised into topics and all with native speaker audio pronunciation. Language acquisition is re-enforced with exercises that emphasise reiterative exposure to each phrase, and most especially repeated exposure to the phrase’s pronunciation.

The app content is designed so that learners can build mental templates of the language’s most common structures. And based on these patterns the learner can themselves construct and create new phrases. And recognise new combinations when listening and interacting in the language.

The core theoretical principle employed by ‘Phrases’ in facilitating adult language learning is ‘immersive exposure’. Immersive exposure is the key to effective language learning. It’s a proven method called ‘contextual immersion’. The app facilitates immersion through reiteration, repetition, memorisation and re-enforcement of over a thousand commonly used colloquial phrases – all with native speaker audio and contextual notes.

Audio Review Mode

There is a strong emphasis on listening in the app. A new feature that facilitates this is the “hand off” Audio Review Mode.

Using voice commands, the user can progress through all the phrases in a topic, repeat them, listen to the at a slower speed and even have the meaning read out.

A record function is also available that allow the user to record and listen back to their own pronunciation of the phrase so to compare with the native speaker pronunciation.

There is also an auto-play feature that automatically cycles through the topic phrases – ideal for when you are exercising or in the car and you want to repeat and repeat again the phrases until they are well and truly embedded and familiar.

Immersion is not submersion:

The immersion approach is a far better way of learning when compared with the submersion approach. Immersing yourself into a language means that you’ve got tools, tips and tricks to support you when it comes to learning the language and culture. Submersion, on the other hand, would plunge you in at the deep end with no resources or support. While submersion is effectively how children learn to speak, adults progress more quickly and efficiently if they have other resources to inform and support their learning. These include explanations of grammar and lessons that are structured.

While the ideal language learning scenario would be attending a language school while living in country surrounded by the culture and language 24 hours a day, this is often not practical for most of us, particularly for the length of time it usually take to go from zero to proficient. So regular and repeated use of the app is recommended so that you surround yourself with the essence of the language.

Here are several references if you are interested in knowing more about the most effective way you can master a foreign languages – by leveraging contextual immersion:

Cummins, J (2009) Bilingual and Immersion Programs, in Long, M and Doughty, C (Eds) The Handbook of Language Teaching, Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

DeKeyser, R (2012) Age effects in second language learning, in Gass, S M and Mackey, A (Eds) The Routledge handbook of second language acquisition, London: Routledge, 442–460.

Kinginger, C (2011) Enhancing Language Learning in Study Abroad, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 31, 58–73, doi: 10.1017/S0267190511000031.

Robson, A L (2002) Critical/Sensitive Periods, in Salkind, N J (Ed.) Child Development, Gale Virtual Reference Library, New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 101–3.

Vanhove, J (2013) The critical period hypothesis in second language acquisition: a statistical critique and a reanalysis, PLOS ONE 8 (7): e69172, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069172.

Wilkinson S (1998) On the Nature of Immersion During Study Abroad: Some Participant Perspectives, Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad 4 (2), 121–138, doi: 10.36366/frontiers.v4i1.65.

How did Bradley Cooper learn French?

Following on from the popularity of our blog post on how Bald and Bankrupt so successfully learned Russian, we are going to do a series of post on other (famous or otherwise) people have learned to speak a second language. We kick off the series with the American actor and filmmaker Bradley Cooper.

Bradley Cooper is an excellent example of an adult who decided to learn a language and by investing the time and effort became pretty close to fluent according to reports. While doing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Georgetown University, Bradley decided to learn French and took extra courses in French language. He also spent six months as an exchange student in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.

Here is video of him speaking French in an interview on French TV, answering fans’ questions:

It is clear that he isn’t exactly fluent – we does make lots of little mistakes and his accent while very good, isn’t perfect – you can tell it’s an American speaking French. Indeed you once admitted that his grammar is débile (‘feeble’ or ‘weak’). But he is very good, especially his confidence, relaxed demeanour and his use of colloquial phrases. He doesn’t take it too serious and you can see he is having a great time.

The key to his success seems to be that while we does make mistakes, it doesn’t phase him – he just ploughs ahead. This is a key strategy to language learning – not being afraid of making mistakes in front of other people – especially native speakers. Speaking to native speaker should be seen as an opportunity to learn. Native speakers don’t think you are stupid or that you are making a fool of yourself if you don’t quite get things perfect. And if you don’t understand something they ask, it is natural that they rephrase the question until you do understand.




If you are interested in a fun and effective way to learn foreign language vocabulary, please give Declan Words a try.

Declan Words offers 14 languages including (of course) Russian, as well as French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Korean, German, Indonesian, Hebrew, Greek, Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese.

Give it a try and download here : iPhone and iPad and Android.

‘Phrases’ Language Learning App – Looking for Beta Testers

We are looking for people to help BETA TEST our brand new **Language Learning App** for iPhone and iPad.

The app is called ‘Phrases’ and so far it’s available for French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese.

BETA TESTERS will get 90 days free and complete access to all the app features including 100s upon 100s of phrases.

The idea behind ‘Phrases’ is to expose users to hundreds and hundreds of common colloquial phrases, thereby developing familiarity and a feeling for the language. This is facilitated by exercises that emphasise memorisation through reiterative exposure to each phrase, and most especially repeated immersive exposure to the sound of each phrase.

The app content is designed so that learners can build mental templates of the language’s most common structures. And based on these patterns the learner can themselves construct and create new phrases. And recognise new combinations when listening and interacting in the language.

The core theoretical principle employed by ‘Phrases’ in facilitating adult language learning is ‘immersive exposure’. Immersive exposure is the key to effective language learning. It’s a proven method called ‘contextual immersion’. The app facilitates immersion through reiteration, repetition, memorisation and re-enforcement of over a thousand commonly used colloquial phrases – all with native speaker audio and contextual notes.

If you are interested please follow this link:

https://declansoftware.com/phrases/beta

We would very much welcome your comments, suggestions and corrections.

Please feel free to share with your friends, family and fellow students. The more testers the merrier!

New features in version 1.4 of Declan FlashCards

We are constantly improving Declan FlashCards. In version 1.4 have added a couple of new features!

In the word review view you now have the option to play the pronunciation audio at 60% speed to get a really good listen to the native speaker’s pronunciation. Just tap the tortoise in the pronunciation bar!

The second new feature – and we think you’ll find this one really helpful – is a hands-off audio review feature. You can now listen to all the word pronunciations in a topic, one after the next, using voice commands like “Play”, “Slow”, “Next” and “Meaning” (which reads the word’s English meaning). You can also record your own pronunciation attempts to compare with the native speaker’s.

We really hope you’ll find this innovations helpful and fun!

Looking for qualified and experienced foreign language teachers

We are looking for qualified and experienced foreign language teachers to help develop content for e-learning. In particular we need help to compile lists of phrases with English translations based on particular topics/categories. The languages we are initially targeting are French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Korean, German, Mandarin Chinese, Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese and Inglés (English with Spanish meanings). If you are interested please send me an email at peter@declansoftware.com.

Launching The Declan Channels’ Affiliate Program

Declan Channels is just kicking off and we are looking for help in getting the word out. If you are interested in earning generous commissions by signing up teachers and schools to get on board, then read on..!

What’s an affiliate?

An Affiliate is someone who earns a commision by signing up paying clients for Declan Channels. Ideally a Declan Channels Affiliate would be someone with experience working as a foreign language teacher with a extensive network of connections in the commununity.

How does it work?

When you refer a teacher or school to us, and they then convert to a paid Declan Channels plan, you earn a generous affilate commission.

What’s the commission?

The commision is on a sliding scale starting at 20% for your first client, up to 45% for your fifth sign-up and beyond. For a large institution, that can mean a commsion of up to $1500.

Getting paid

Once your client signs up to a paid plan, we will pay you within 7 days. The prefered payment method is PayPal though we can also arrange bank transfers.

Getting started

Get started by learning how Declan Channels works and the benefits is offers foreign language teachers and their students. Read the material in our website and download the PDF whitepaper for complete details. And if you have any questions whatsoever don’t hesitate to contact us by email or send us a WhatsApp message.

And then once you are ready, send us an email and we will get started in enrolling you as a Declan Channels Affiliate.