This is a review of Take Off In Russian by Oxford University Press.
I’ll begin by saying that this course is very good and unlike any other that I’ve used. What is absolutely fantastic about it is that you spend a lot of time listening, so you get to hear a lot of native Russian. This makes Take Off In Russian stand out from normal textbook courses. However, there are always things that can be improved and Take Off In Russian has some flaws.
So, should you buy it? Let’s find out!
How the course works
According to the introduction, Take Off In Russian is “designed to help the beginner develop the basic language skills necessary to communicate in Russian in most everyday situations.” It is designed for self-learners and suitable for absolute beginners.
There are 14 units that deal with everyday situations such as directions, shopping, time, personal information, and eating out. You start off in each unit by listening to a track, and get an introduction of what you are about to learn. And then you just do what the guy tells you to! You do A LOT of listening!!
Each unit contains an introduction, 5 learning spreads, a test, and a summary.
The “learning spreads” contain dialogues, vocabulary, explanations of grammar and usage, and activities. The first three learning spreads are everyday dialogues that of course relate to the unit’s goal (i.e. time will be very important in the unit dealing with time!). The fourth learning spread is focused on culture, and you will learn things such as signs, how to fill out a visa application form, how to read menus, and much more! And finally, the fifth learning spread is a story. The story revolves around the “Larin” family. All you do is listen to the story and do the activities related to it.
In the “Introduction” section of the book, you are introduced to the Russian alphabet. There are only two pages that detail the alphabet, but they are very well laid out and everything is explained well. After the introduction section, you begin Unit 1. Unit 1 is named “Поехали!” (Starting out!). In this unit you learn how to pronounce Russian words, greet people, ask simple questions, and make simple statements.
What do you get?
When you purchase Take Off In Russian you will get:
- A 256-page course textbook
- 4 audio CD’s
- A card with a code to download the audio from the Internet (for use with iPod/mp3 player)
- Everyday dialogues
- Activities and tests
- Down-to-earth grammar explanations (well suited for those who have never learned a foreign language)
- Grammar summary (but it’s extremely limited in what it details)
- Vocabulary glossary in back of the book
- Not as complete as I had expected
- Lacks in-depth grammar explanations
- Seems to move along too quickly
- No direct translation of dialogues (so no jumping around to different sections)
- Occasional stress mark errors
How much does it cost?
Should you buy it?
When I bought Take Off In Russian, I was expecting it to be all of my books and CD’s shoved into one complete course. I really like this course, don’t get me wrong, but I was quite disappointed to find out that it wasn’t what I had expected. So don’t think it’s going to be the only course you ever have to buy. Also, you will definitely need a grammar book.
I recommend buying this course, especially if you are an absolute beginner. But you should also buy a book like Shaum’s Outline of Russian Grammar to help you will more in-depth grammar explanations. The grammar explanations given in Take Off In Russian are simple and to the point, but if you are planning on becoming fluent in Russian, you need more in-depth explanations to look at.
I don’t feel like I wasted money on this course, because you definitely get your money’s worth with as much audio as there is! So if you’ve got the money, give it a try!!