First Russian Words by David Melling

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First Russian Words by David Melling

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Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 1/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: An introduction to Russian vocabulary. It suffers greatly from not having phonetic translations as well as the real translations. If it weren't for that, it would have the much wider target audience it deserves.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 48 Date: April 2009
Publisher: OUP
ISBN: 978-0199111510

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As you might expect, First Russian Words is an introduction to Russian vocabulary. David Melling has provided lovely illustrations for all the words - around the house and school, looking at various professions, at the seaside, on the farm, and things like colours and shapes.

At Bookbag, there's a clear policy of reviewing books in the appropriate context. We wouldn't, for example, criticise First Russian Words for not being detailed enough for degree students. It's common sense. There is a context in which First Russian Words is a perfect book, but for the overwhelming majority of people who might be interested in it, there's a major stumbling block.

There's a brief guide to pronunciation before the table of contents, but nothing else beyond that. (Its sister book First Chinese Words doesn't even have that guide). Particularly as the words are in a different alphabet, you need a phonetic translation by each word. If it's meant to be a bilingual book, rather than for English people to learn Russian, then you could have it phonetically in both English and Russian. Without it, most people are left stumbling in the dark.

To get any use out of First Russian Words, you need to have a working understanding of Russian. A family raising its children to learn both English and Russian would make use of it, but even then, it's not ideal. I'm far from an expert, but I do have family members with bilingual children, and from what I understand, the effective method is for the Russian-speaking mother to only speak Russian to the child, whilst the English-speaking father only speaks English. Rather than the child trying to learn to translate, it learns each language separately.

If First Russian Words is perfect for you, it's perfect for you. For most people looking to learn a few basic Russian words, it won't help them. It's also available in Chinese, Arabic, Italian, Polish, French, German and Spanish. David Melling's wonderful illustrations are the same in each.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

Although there aren't direct comparisons with this textbook, you'll find plenty of interesting books in Bookbag's Top Ten Books About Language.

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Buy First Russian Words by David Melling at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy First Russian Words by David Melling at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy First Russian Words by David Melling at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy First Russian Words by David Melling at


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