I have been studying Russian for almost two years as a full-time student and feel disappointed that I’m not more fluent. It seems like no matter how much Vocab I learn, I still don’t understand authentic texts...and I still make lots of mistakes with cases. How do you supercharge your learning to learn Russian more quickly and effectively? Thank you.
One way to build up vocabulary is extensive reading ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensive_reading ). Note the contrast with "intensive reading".
If you have a desktop computer and use Chrome, you can install the Google Translate extension, and then have instant lookup of words or entire phrases within a webpage, using Google Translate as a kind of substitute for a dictionary. Then you can tackle web pages that are somewhat above your level, but keep moving forward steadily and refrain from the temptation to look up every unknown word. Inferring meanings or just getting the gist is usually enough for learning purposes. Some of the new words you encounter might be instant "keepers", but many others will be "not now", so just catch and release.
Find content that personally interests you. Avoid dutifully plowing through texts that bore you.
For reading purposes, you only need to be able to recognize cases and conjugations, not to be able to produce them yourself. You could compare it to "demonyms" in English (like "New Yorker", "Bostonian", "Dallasite"), which are often unpredictable: do they end in -er, -ian, -ite, or maybe -ese or are they entirely irregular? But you only need to recognize these when you see them, you don't have to memorize the demonyms for every city in the word, including irregular cases like Muscovite and Angeleno. At least not at this stage.
So maybe try extensive reading in your extra time, keeping it entirely separate from your regular school-related learning, and you may find your passive vocabulary grows quickly. And passive vocabulary, once firmly embedded in your brain, tends to stick long-term, as opposed to active vocabulary which is very much "use it regularly or lose it".
Two years of college Russian is not that much.
What I did:
- Summer intensive in Polish (beginning level , first slavic language I had been exposed to)
- Academic year of college Russian
- Summer intensive in Russian
- Another academic year of college Russian
- Another summer intensive in Russian
- Then I went there to work for 6 months/year for 2 years
At the end of all that, my Russian was pretty good. Not perfect, but I could follow 3/4 of most movies and media.
Russian is a big lift.
I worked in Russia for a while and I have a Russian born wife. The thing is not to get too hung up on the grammar. The Russians often get it wrong themselves and in any case emphasise the root rather than the endings. They certainly wouldn't bother to comment if a foreigner declined a noun incorrectly. My wife has been known to ask me occasionally as to the exact ending of a word when she is writing some formal letter.