First of all a word to Tony. I use loose fitting ear phones that hang over my earlobes when I listen while exercising, or even while driving. It is very easy to hear background noise or music while listening to my favourite audio books. (I have now mostly switched to playing my iPod through my car stereo when I drive, however.) I will continue playing Bach in the background while listening to my Russian CDs. It does make it more pleasant. I am not sure it increases my learning. I will see.
The CDs I have were all I could find at the book store. it is Living Language Russian by Random House. The course does just about all the wrong things. The first 12 or so lessons are just unconnected recordings of sounds, words and phrases. There is no context.
Terms like “palatized and non-palatized syllables” are introduced, which I just ignore. Seasons of the year, verb forms and other bits and pieces are introduced without rhyme or reason.So called “useful expression” and the usual “at the Post Office”. “end of the vacation” dialogue snippets are all there. There is plenty of grammar explanations with rules about what happens when and when it does not. I just ignore these. Anyway, this text is the only thing I have so I am using it.
Language learners need context, continuity, choice of content. Short meaningful dialogues that I can get used to, understand and then listen to over and over are more useful than a collection of short disjointed words and phrases combined with incomprehensible rules and exceptions. I cannot wait until we have Russian at The Linguist. Still, learning another language from scratch is a good experience.
I am concerned that The Linguist system right now is attracting more intermediate and better learners and not enough beginner learners. I will see what I learn from my experience here.When we launch our program for other languages we will need to make sure to cater to beginners.