About a month ago, Steve Kaufmann (creator of theLinguist service) and I had a disagreement on whether grammar is important in studying language. In summary, he thinks that the grammar should be studied last if at all, while I think grammar allows one to create a mental infrastructure that would make learning easier.
Since Steve is currently studying Russian, we agreed to have a Skype discussion where he can demonstrate his Russian to me. Today, this happened. I am not sure if he recorded it as originally planned or not, but it was interesting either way.
I have the say that his pronunciation is quite good. The words he used were clear and only a couple of times he slipped into a strong accent, usually around soft and hard vowels. In one instance, I could hear him self-correct an accented pronunciation (нэ -> не), so the correct sounds are obviously very much on his mind.
The grammar was a bit more difficult. The cases were not correct and neither was plural/singular use. That of course is where I think grammar would help and Steve thinks that just remembering appropriate sentence fragments in context (из дома, домой) will do the trick. I would be very impressed if that turns out to be true.
So, the challenge is settled with a 3-2 score (Steve is winning on the pronunciation), but more importantly I have something to look forward to in another 9-12 month when we should be able to converse in my mother tongue instead of his.