How to converse with me по-русски

I can sort of speak Russian, but my listening comprehension is much better than my speaking. Russian-speaking friends will sometimes taunt me with suggestions(/threats) of switching to strictly Russian conversations, which I could probably handle, but with a few caveats.

1. You don’t have to speak slow, but I need more time to absorb. I can understand people when they speak, just with a delayed reaction. I’ve found that I don’t necessarily need people to slow down their speech, but just give me enough time to pick apart the phrase and figure out if I can understand it or not before moving on.

2. When I make a weird look, try repeating the phrase. Maybe I misheard something.

3. When I still make a weird look (and maybe shake my head a bit and laugh nervously), try wording the phrase slightly different, maybe with more simple vocabulary and grammar. This usually happens at the pet store when I try to buy cat food for indoor cats. I can never remember how to say “cat food for indoor cats” and for some reason, I still have trouble recognizing it when it’s said to me, so the woman working at the pet store will say it, see my head shake, and then say something easy to understand like “cat lives only in the house?” Yes, exactly.

4. For the most part, I’m okay when people guess what I’m trying to say as I struggle to find the right way to respond. Probably cheating, but it’s a lot easier to respond to a yes-or-no question than to try to string together the whole answer myself.

5. Also feel free to repeat what I’ve said (no matter how confident and proud I seem about sputtering out a sentence) but with correct grammar. This is one of the most helpful ways for me to learn correct grammar usage, otherwise I assume that my way is correct and I’ll continue to sound like an idiot when I speak.

6. Please don’t laugh at me when I make up words. One especially kind pharmacist followed this rule beautifully when I tried to explain what sort of medicine I needed for a hard-to-describe issue and resorted to saying English words with a Russian accent.

There we go! Six simple rules for putting up with me in a Russian conversation. Давайте говорить!

One reply on “How to converse with me по-русски”

  1. I love the list…it’s exactly how I feel about speaking/understanding a foreign language…

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