15 Months of Learning Russian with Immersion Methods: Reckoning


Hi! I’m Attenius, a native English speaker from the US learning Russian. I switched to immersion methods around early in July 2020. I'm roughly following the plans and advice given at https://refold.la. If you're not familiar with me or Refold, you might want to check out my earlier updates. I'm trying to keep this one brief.


Here are my summary stats for January through September. I had a bug in my sheet so the numbers might look slightly different from my last post. Not shown: shadowing and writing, which I've only done a few hours of.

Sum/Mean, in hours except for total time spent in Anki and cards made. The "Total" at the bottom is Reading + Listening + 0.33 * Passive + Anki + 0.75 * Cards [with the actual input numbers in minutes].


No massive jumps in ability, in fact I feel my gaps more and more. Anime dubs and streams feel a bit easier, the news and movies seem still just as hard. Over the course of watching many many hours of Вечерние Кости's FreeTalks and Горячие ролевые shows I felt them become quite a bit easier, but it still takes some concentration.

In August I made my first trip to Brighton Beach, a Russian-speaking neighborhood in New York and had a blast just walking around hearing and understanding Russian all over the place. I had my first (albeit minor) interaction in real life with a native speaker since starting Refold at a bookstore there, and I bought WAY too many books.

I had some setbacks later in August due to some health issues which ate up my time and motivation, but I've continued to make progress, and I'm approaching the numbers I had before.



I've introduced a lot more podcast time (mostly my "language parent" from Вечерние Кости) and spent a lot more time on audiobooks due to some intermittent vision issues I've been having. I really want to spend as much time as possible now listening to conversational content, as the itch to output's been growing a little recently.

  • ~10% Anime dubs
  • ~20% Podcasts 
  • ~40% Streams
  • ~5% Native TV and movies
  • ~15% Other native YouTube, mostly pop history, video essays, game and anime reviews
  • ~10% Audiobooks

I've been trying to jump in and listen whenever I see a bunch of people in a voice chat in the Discord servers I'm in, as I feel like nothing else has really prepared me for 12 people talking over each other with god-awful sound quality. 

I've been making a list of several popular Soviet movies and cartoons that I feel like are essential watching for Russian speakers, and I've putting one of those on whenever I can't get myself to choose between YouTube videos.


My reading time has dropped a lot due to my eye issues. Most of it's from social media these days, and I've been aggressively mining from chats to learn more modern colloquial words.
I finally started the Нашествие монголов [Invasion of the Mongols] trilogy, but have only made it about 15% in. It hasn't been too bad really, but there are a lot of Arabic, Persian, and Turkic terms that are very difficult for me to remember and aren't useful for comprehending conversational speech.

I absolutely devoured the Three-Body Problem, a sci-fi novel translated from Chinese to English to Russian. I was really surprised at how easy it was to read not having read any sci-fi in Russian before, and I loved the novel itself. I listened to the audiobook of the sequel and enjoyed it just as much, and I'm currently listening to book 3.

Black Book, an RPG/deckbuilding game I've been waiting on forever, finally released, and I've managed to play for a few hours. Absolutely love everything about it and am really glad there are Russian developers making stuff like this. Can't wait to return to it once I get back to my computer and learn more dated literary vocab!


I've spent more than 100 hours listening to my language parent (combining passive and active listening), and just a few days ago began shadowing him -- a little ahead of schedule, but I wanted to see what would shake out. It's been very painful to hear myself speaking, as I can tell my accent's way off. When I feel like I've done the best I can on shadowing/chorusing a sentence after recording it several times, I still don't feel confident about it. I'll probably try to find a tutor in the future in addition to shadowing just for some external confirmation.

I've been trying to force myself to be more active in Russian chats, but I'm a very shy person even in English, and I rarely feel like I have anything to say other than "hi I'm foreign and spend all my free time being bad at your language."


I caved and started in on Mandarin a bit, just learning a few words with Anki, reading a couple graded readers, and occasionally watching an episode of donghua here and there. During my crash I pretty much dropped it entirely -- as excited as I am about Chinese, that excitement is outweighed by the pain I feel from the gaps in my Russian ability. I've kept up with my Anki reps, but that's all I plan to do for now.

I was planning to switch languages at New Year's, but I doubt I can get my Russian where I want it by then. Currently goal is to be regularly playing TTRPGs with Russian speakers each week and reading native history and fantasy books comfortably  every day before I make that switch.

As for the rest of this year, I'm just aiming for 2,000 hours studied and at least one speaking session.


Огромное спасибо [huge thanks] to my friends and the Refold Discord server communities for chatting with me, enduring my complaints, humoring my questions, and correcting my mistakes!

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment here or hit me up in the Refold Discord.



  1. You are putting in great numbers! I'm only doing an hour or so a day on average but still enjoying it.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

4,000+ hours of Russian and 400+ of Mandarin: A Very Late 2 Year Update

Learning Russian with Immersion Methods: 6 Months Update

21 Months of Russian Immersion + Mandarin Month 1ish