Hi! My name is Kimberly DiMattia – Kira, when I'm teaching Russian. I have a Ph.D. in Russian and Second Language Acquisition and I specialize in pronunciation. I am also a second language learner like many of you! Can a second language learner teach pronunciation? This review provides one perspective.
"I want to learn Russian pronunciation – where do I start?"
You could subscribe to my video series and podcast called Russian Word of the Day with Kira. Definitely sign up for my Patreon Podcast – you can receive texts or emails with audio exercises and pronunciation tips delivered directly to you multiple times a week at the $5 per month level. I am really excited to see what kind of progress students can make with this fun and easy initiative!
"What if I am ready for higher-level mastery?"
I have a video course and textbook for you called Unlocking Russian Pronunciation ($36 hard copy / $18 digital rental for 180 days). You can also inquire about private lessons or take a master class, and I host Russian singing on Zoom from time to time — sign up if you'd like to be invited. : )
So many ways to improve your Russian pronunciation!
Thank you for supporting the cause!
A lifetime of learning and experience has gone into what I offer students here and elsewhere, but I deliberately keep the prices of the majority of my products and services low so that as many people can have access to them as possible. I deeply appreciate the gifts of others who support me in this endeavor!
My YouTube channel is all about demystifying Russian pronunciation. Other pronunciation videos demonstrate pronunciation without really explaining it, but in these videos I describe the movement of the jaw, tongue, and lips in detail, show you the breakdown of sounds in the word using the International Phonetic Alphabet, and pronounce the word for you to repeat. I've included some examples of these videos at the bottom of this page.
2) Listen to Word of the Day Podcast as a Podcast
The podcast streams the audio for Russian Word of the Day with Kira for those who prefer the podcast format. Each episode is a few minutes long and students can benefit from reviewing them several times a day or several days in a row. You could watch the videos in the morning and then listen to the podcast later on in the day, which is a great way to practice new habits. The podcast is available on other platforms as well – check your favorite podcast host to see if yours carries it, too.
3) Sign Up for Kira's Patreon Podcast
Join my Russian Pronunciation Club and sign up to receive audio exercises and pronunciation tips delivered directly to you multiple times a week via text and/or email through the Remind app (or simply log into Patreon to access the same resources.) I’m sooo excited about this initiative!!! A few minutes a day of focused practice can make a huge difference in long-term mastery, and I thought that regular texts (or emails) from me would be the best way to make it easy and fun for you. I will tell you how to sign up for texts and/or emails on the Remind app in my welcome email when you become a Patron at the $5/month level. I hope a bunch of you try this option out!!!
Click below to hear an example of the audio exercises you can access via links in texts or emails.
Unlocking Russian Pronunciation is designed to help students sound Russian when they speak it. The course includes:
Textbook and Extensive Video Library
Full Answer Keys
Detailed Instruction on Every Topic
Expert Coaching on Phonetic Nuances
The textbook Unlocking Russian Pronunciation accompanies the video course and provides the password to unlock the videos. You can purchase a hard copy of the book for US $36 or you can rent a digital copy for 180 days for US $18. Both the book and the video course can be used either by teachers, as supplemental materials in Russian language courses, or by students on their own – all the instruction is provided in the videos and the book contains answer keys. The videos and textbook were designed for students who are ready to learn Russian pronunciation in an analytical way, so if you like to study systems, this is the course for you! (There is a faculty review copy option available as well – click the button below and select "Faculty Review Copy" from the K/H website.)
From time to time I host a virtual Russian folk "sing" on Zoom for students and teachers. Sometimes I coach a little pronunciation as well, and sometimes we talk about what it's like to study or teach Russian. If you'd like to be invited, click the "Sign Up" below to send me an email and I'll put you on my mailing list so you'll get the announcement the next time we sing. : )
I am thinking of offering private lessons on Zoom at a rate of US $20 for a 20-minute session, which seems like just the right amount of time for personal coaching. Teachers – if you are interested in having a guest who likes to teach pronunciation and sing visit your class (virtually!), let me know...it might be possible!
What is Master Class?
Master class focuses solely on pronunciation, teaching you to sound authentically Russian when you speak. I will explain the rules of Russian phonetics in English and work with students individually and as a group to help you reset your default mouth position. Master class is also a sort of virtual learning and teaching lab where other Russian teachers can observe in the background. Often after class I invite students and teachers to join me online to talk about how the class is going and to see what other ideas we can come up with to help learners reach mastery. Join us and feel new confidence when you speak! Read on for more information below and see the class webpage for details.
Class Dates & Times
Classes are 1.5 hours long (except for the first class meeting, which is 2 hours long), there are six classes in a session, and the next session begins on Thursday, 5/20/21. You should attend every class you possibly can! There is no cost to attend classes in May-June 2021 other than the cost of the required materials ($25-$45 total, depending on whether you choose hard copies or digital rental).
Optional Check-In Coaching Sessions
Group coaching sessions involve multiple students. They are 15-45 minutes long (depending on attendance) and are completely optional. I work with one student at a time while everyone else practices at home with their mics on mute. Past students have reported that these sessions really helped them apply what they learned in class. Check-Ins will be held at 4 p.m. EST (New York) on each Friday after the first five class sessions.
There are no fees for attending the May-June 2021 "quarantine edition" of this class other than the cost of the required materials – see below ($25-$45 total, depending on whether you choose hard copies or digital rental). Faculty may request a review copy of Unlocking Russian Pronunciation if they wish (or they could purchase it, of course) but there is no requirement that they do so.
"Extras" will also be available to students and observers: $20 for individualized goal setting and feedback on a recording of themselves reading a passage in Russian and $5 for each Friday afternoon "check-in" coaching session they wish to attend (see above).
What materials will I need?
Unlocking Russian Pronunciation (US $36 hard copy / $18 digital rental for 180 days)
A Zoom account (free to sign up; log in through your account for security purposes)
Paper and pen/pencil
A way to record yourself during class (your phone or any program on your computer like QuickTime – free for Mac and PC)
A mic if your audio quality is poor (clip-on mics can really help!)
The best internet connection you can possibly get (sit near a wifi router, use the newest device you have, close other programs & tabs)
Could this class be right for me?
This class is appropriate for learners at all levels of proficiency, from beginners who know the alphabet to "I've been speaking or even teaching Russian for years now and I'm ready for a pronunciation makeover!" Truthfully, this information was not available to many experienced learners when they were students, and even if it was, pronunciation is a tricky thing, so it's likely that the class could be useful to lots of folks. It's a wonderful opportunity to cast off the shame of knowing we don't sound very Russian and to embrace who we are right at this moment – we are learners on a path, ready to learn more. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you struggle with technology (like learning to navigate new websites, managing several passwords for different sites, and making video or audio recordings of yourself) then you should register as an observer the first time around!
Who is eligible to take the class?
The class is aimed at college students, graduate students, and adult professionals, but highly motivated high school juniors and seniors age 16 or older are also welcome! I have room for 25 students with cameras on during class (current students & teachers of Russian will receive priority) but I may be able to extend the opportunity to others as well.
Will there be homework?
Yes – so that you actually sound different at the end of the course! There will be written assignments and oral practice assignments – check out the syllabus here. This course asks you to learn a written transcription system, which is a tool that will help you know exactly how to pronounce every Russian word you come across, but you will have to practice it to learn it. If you like systems, you may find it easy. If you like to rely on your ear, you may not like this approach right away and you may have to work at it. But if you commit to doing the homework (15-20 minutes of written and oral practice a day), I believe you will see amazing results. : )
What if I have to miss a class?
The textbook comes with access to many hours of video lessons where I teach exactly what I will be teaching online in the master class, so missing a class won't be a problem if you watch the videos for the class you miss and do the homework. We will also record class and post the videos on this page. Handy, huh! Just email me about missing class in advance whenever possible; otherwise I will expect to see you at all six classes.
Do observers have to come to every class?
No! If you want to observe, you can come just once or all six times and you don't have to notify me in advance, but you do need to register. You may also come to the check-ins at no cost if you want (see above).
What are the expectations about video on or off? Who will participate?
At the beginning of each class session, most people turn their video on to say hello. Then I ask observers to turn their video off and only students leave their video on, so that they are in the foreground. We will sing a little after class ends, and everyone is welcome to turn on their video at that time if they stay. The classes are recorded and posted publicly on my website (see below).
Can I record the sessions? Will you?
I will record the sessions and post them on this page so that they can become a learning tool for everyone – me, included! I use them to become a better teacher. It's also possible that other teachers will want to see excerpts or whole sessions – to understand more clearly how pronunciation is learned and to think about how we can do a better job teaching it. I may use the videos from the sessions professionally in the future (such as in presentations to other teachers and/or students) and I may allow other researchers to use them as well.
When is the registration deadline?
The registration deadline is Wednesday, 5/19/2021. Use this button to register for all of the class sessions at once. High school juniors and seniors age 16 and older, college students, and adult professionals are welcome to apply. The Register button will take you to a questionnaire; you will receive an acceptance email once admitted. You must have a Zoom account and be logged into Zoom in order to attend each class.
Review of Unlocking Russian Pronunciation Video Course + Book
"Best Russian Pronunciation Resource on the Market"
As a long-time student and lover of the Russian language, if I could give this course a six-star rating, I would. I wish it had existed when I first began learning the language 20+ years ago. In my view, this course should be a mandatory part of every first-year Russian course wherever it is taught. It does two things, in particular, that I have not seen done before and that, together, make it hands down the best Russian pronunciation resource on the market, essential for beginners and advanced learners alike.
First, it presents the rules of Russian pronunciation in a way that is clear and accessible to even beginners. One of the beauties of the Russian language is that the pronunciation of words is very regular and predictable once you know the rules. There are other books on the market that cover this, but they are impenetrable to all but advanced learners and the very determined. This course, which includes both a book with exercises and video explanations, presents the rules more clearly than any other book I've seen. And if you are new to the language, I could not recommend more strongly learning these rules right from the beginning. Once you know them, you should know how to correctly pronounce almost any word you encounter. And as you're learning new words, you might as well learn how to pronounce them correctly the first time, so you don't have to re-learn them later.
Second, the video course teaches the mechanics of correct pronunciation. Knowing where to make the right sounds (which is what the transcription system helps with) is only half the battle. Learning how to make the sounds is the other half -- and the more difficult half for most English speakers. Kira's Russian pronunciation is the best I've ever heard from a non-native speaker (if you don't believe me, check out her Russian Word of the Day podcast). And, unlike any native speaker I've ever met, she can "translate" her know-how to English speakers, explaining how to make the right sounds by comparing and contrasting proper Russian pronunciation with how we make analogous sounds in English (for example, the difference between the "y" in words like "yes" and the й sound at the beginning of Russian vowels like я and е). Video lesson 3 alone is worth the price of the entire course.
In short, if you are serious about improving your Russian pronunciation and sounding more authentic, get this course. You won't regret it.
On behalf of Russian learners everywhere, спасибо большое, Kira, for putting this together and sharing your exceptional talent with the rest of us.
This review was sent to me after I asked a customer if I could use a few words of thanks from an email. I'm very grateful! - Kira
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