27    May 20100 comments

Language: Speaking in tongues

Can't read Cyrillic? Problems with Persian? Trouble with Turkish?

Find help with free online language courses.

When Research Buzz mentioned several sites for free online language courses, I wondered how this could help linguistically-challenged researchers - including me.

I clicked here for the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Language Courses and found an extensive list of languages - from Amharic to Yoruba - with texts and audio tapes.

Since most of my personal research involves records written in Russian Empire Cyrillic, I wanted to see if I could brush up on my reading skills. 

For Russian, click here and find  the Student Text, broken down into three sections of lessons, along with eight tapes and a supplement. Lesson 1 includes the aphabet, in cursive (for all those old birth, marriage and death records) and printed forms, along with reading practice, following the tapes.

The text details those letters that are nearly the same as English - look and sound the same, as well as those that look like English letters but have different sounds (P has the sound of R, C=S, B-V).

The speaker clearly pronounces the words under picture (lampa and passport, in the example below), and then numerous words under the pictures. All you need do is repeat them while looking at the words and understanding the letter forms and the sounds they represent.

The more pages I read and listened to, the better I became at recognizing each letter in a word.

Check out the other languages. Let me know if these help you in your research.

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