I challenged myself to go through Russian toddler/young-children readers and things. Mostly old soviety stuff from the 60s but it was enough to help.
One of the most helpful things I found was from a controversial idea from an Israeli linguist from the 90s – I don’t remember his name and I don’t know if he’s still around, but he had a brilliantly simple notion:
Learn the infinitive form of the verbs.
Learn as much body language/hand gesture language.
Do a lot of pointing.
and that’s pretty much it.
He advised that we spend a lot of time trying to “speak like a native” when we should do the opposite: accept that we’re a foreigner, know that good-natured native speakers will be forgiving of your non-nativeness (which will be obvious even YEARS into trying to master fluency), and help you along.
controversial idea – goes against everything we’re instructed.
But it’s exactly what people thrust into cultures have to do _anyway_
What ultimately stopped me in learning Russian was: a) moving to Florida instead of going to the monastery. b) losing interest in the church / religion thing c) (and #1 really): I don’t have much to say to people in my NATIVE language, so WHY would I have _more to say_ in another language?