I believe that there are two reasons why you cannot do this: Either you are a lazy bum who is used to having your dreams come true without your actual participation, or you are a complete perfectionist who wants to thoroughly understand each nuance. It’s up to you which category you place yourself in.
In this article, I want to share my thoughts on this matter. I have been getting a lot of letters, in which people complain that they have made no progress in learning Russian. I ask them to tell me how they have been learning the language, step-by-step, without lying. In the end, I have come to the conclusion that in half of the cases they are just lazy people who believe that 2 hours of training a week is enough to make significant progress. My answer to these people is simple: Don’t flatter yourself and go and do something that really inspires you. If Russian or any other foreign language inspires you to study for a maximum 2 hours a week, then perhaps there is something else in this life that will please you much more: for example sport, fishing, or knitting, perhaps. So do not waste your time and do something more useful for yourself.
With the other half of people, everything is more complicated, because behind this inability to make progress in learning there are psychological issues. Initially, people are driven by the wrong psychological attitudes. Someone thinks that it is impossible to learn the Russian language if you do not learn it in Russia and, in order to speak perfectly you have to move there. My friends, believe me, I know Americans who have lived in Russia for 8 years, but they do not speak Russian at all. Moving does not guarantee that you will become fluent, it just can speed up your progress towards fluency.
Other people strive to learn grammar and phonetics only, forgetting that there is still listening and speaking.
You can learn a million rules, but without practising colloquial speech, you are just wasting your time. You can learn a million words, but not listening to the context in which they are used leads to another waste of time.
Therefore, I recommend that you follow the following principles:
1) Be focused on the main aim. Keep your goal in your mind constantly. If you have 5 free minutes, do not look at photos on Instagram, but open some channel on YouTube and listen to an interesting short video in the language that you are learning.
This is really useful for your vocabulary and it gives you the opportunity to work on your comprehension skills.
2) Throw the barriers out of your head. A lot of people say something like that: «I will not read books and watch movies, because I know too few words». The problem is that, if you refuse to do this, you will never learn more words which are used in colloquial speech. Films and books help you to do this. Remember, that only you limit your mind.
3) Let yourself make errors. A lot of people are afraid to start communicating because of the possibility of making a mistake. As a child, we were afraid that classmates would laugh at us in school or a teacher would punish us if we said or did something wrong. Or even worse, we would be punished by our parents. So remember: YOU are a mature person and no one will punish you for bad pronunciation or wrong endings. People would rather focus on themselves, they are not bothered by the mistakes of others. And if you are a foreigner who has come to Russia and have sincerely tried to learn Russian, your mistakes will only please Russian natives. Generally, Russians have one striking trait – they love to help. So step away from fear and push forward for lively communication.
4) Stop postponing. If you think it’d be better to start on Monday, then you’re wrong! It is better to start NOW. Watch a video NOW, read a book NOW, find a language partner NOW.
5) Do not give up. There will be times when it seems to you that you do not understand anything, that your progress has stalled and, in general, life is a big drama. The most important thing is not to give up at such times. Do not take important decisions when you have a headache, or your mood is bad, or something in life is not going well. There is nothing reprehensible about the fact that at times we are bored with doing language. You can always take a break. But before, build a foundation on which it would be possible to later build a big house.