This is the second most frequent question I hear from my students when the handwriting is concerned. And my general answer will be – anytime! There are, however, different scenarios, depending on when/why/how you are learning the Russian Handwriting.
- If you are a complete beginner and are just starting your Russian studies you might think:
“I need to wait with this handwriting thing. Getting the printed letters memorized is hard enough. I will get back to it when I feel more confident in my Russian.”
Sure, that is an option. However my recommendation is to actually do it right as you are learning the alphabet. Learn to recognize that letter in printed and handwritten versions. Read the books, texts and practice your printed alphabet that way, but handwrite your answers, handwrite the new vocabulary, etc.
Why? There are several reasons but for me these two are two key ones:
1. Slow down and write it down. At the beginning there are a lot of fundamental things (like cases, verbs of motion, conjugations, and new essential vocabulary) that need to be memorized. Many students tend to rush through this phase in search of more complex material, more new vocabulary, more verb conjugations, etc. However, a lot of them fail to internalize all that new material and fumble with their case ending even at their Intermediate levels.
Surprisingly handwriting can help you with that! Yes, it can, and here is how. First, it will satisfy your beginner’s thirst for new material, while allowing you to keep practicing the fundamentals that you need to slow down for.
By slowing down and figuring out not only what the correct answer is, but how to properly write in in handwriting will actually help you pace yourself, pay more attention to your endings, your spelling and your sentence structure. And it will give you that extra time to absorb all the wonderful Russian vocabulary and rules.
I even recommend sounding everything out while you are writing, that will help you with your speaking too!
2. Will you get back to it? Will you really? If you will, you are more of an exception, than a rule. Most of the students I encounter rarely do. Majority of those who study it later usually do it because they ended up in Russia and realized it is a handicap they have to correct and they learn it to function well over there.
As your Russian studies ramp up there tends to be less and less time to spend on the handwriting.
Moreover you are already in the habit of printing anything you need to write down by hand in Russian and you end up feeling like, it’s good enough.
So why not start learning it as a beginner? You will soon have it as part of your routine. Handwriting in cursive in Russian will become second nature to you before you know it. You will be surprised how soon you will not think twice about using the cursive letters when you are writing something down in Russian.