Best tips and tricks to learn the Russian language
Russian is an East Slavic language native to the Russians in Eastern Europe. It is an official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and is used widely throughout the Caucasus, Central Asia, and to some extent in the Baltic states. Russian belongs to the family of Indo-European languages, one of the four living members of the East Slavic languages alongside, and part of the larger Balto-Slavic branch. While Russian is widely believed to be one of the most difficult languages to learn, it’s possible to speak Russian fluently within a few months. Russian could prove daunting if you have no knowledge of other Slavic languages (e.g. Bulgarian or Czech), but even then it’s not an impossible task.
The Foreign Service Institute, USA prescribes about 1100 hours of study for an English speaker to reach a reasonable fluency in Russian(not native though!). If you’re willing to study for 2 hours every day and practice for another 2 each day, it could take you a year to reach an exceptionally good level in Russian. The learning time for the Russian language also depends on a few other factors, such as your intent of learning(Business Russian or Russian for travel can be learnt faster), knowledge of other Slavic languages (Bulgarian or Czech), knowledge of reading the Cyrillic alphabet or in the event you plan to skip learning to read Cyrillic completely. While most language learners wish to learn their target language as soon as possible and often look for short-cuts and secret formulas, please be aware there are no shortcuts! It’s only hard work and effort that help you sail through!
The easiest, proven way of learning any language is, by a travel immersion method, where a learner travels to the country that speaks his target language. When he surrounds himself with speakers of the language in this manner, he’s able to intensify his speaking skills, learning the native accent, and pronunciation that empowers him to learn the language faster! To learn Russian spend some time in Russian speaking countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and you’ll pick up the nuances of the language far more quickly.
Russian words tend to merge into one another due to the way Russian is spoken, and a learner is likely to miss, where the first sentence finishes and the next begins! This nitty-gritty is grasped from natives by carefully observing how they speak, and when and where they take time to breathe between sentences.
If you are living in the U.S the answer would be no. As the Russian language is not used in daily living in the U.S but if you are learning because you want to study literature, culture and many more then yes, it’s absolutely worth it.
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- The need to learn the Russian alphabet serves as yet another obstacle for many people who would like to learn the language. However, you may be surprised to know that the Russian alphabet actually takes only about 10 diligent dedicated hours to learn with complete concentration. So strengthen your Cyrillic Alphabet! There’s simply no way around it. Invest time to learn, memorize Cyrillic.
- Set realistic learning goals for yourself.
- Use authentic media.
- Put YouTube to its best use.
- Make a small Russia in your house, decorating it with pictures from Russia, that are labeled in Russian so you can connect to them through their Russian names avoiding translation in your head!
- Rekindle your focus by watching a movie in Russian every now and then or listen to podcasts and music to understand the language better.
- Learn common words first.
- Keep a grammar book handy.
- Learn words that tie to your native language or are the same across languages.
- Label objects in your home with their respective Russian names to act as visual cues and remind you of your goal.
- Practice your skills daily.
- Regular repetition of words and sentences on a daily basis, even if it’s only done during a short time span will be much more effective, than trying to cram tons of new words at once in your brain.
- Immerse yourself in Russian, at home or abroad.
- Find a native speaker to interact with such as Hello Talk.
- Use a targeted program such as Busuu/ Duolingo.
- Perfect (Or At Least Practice) The Passionate R.
- Master Your Soft And Hard Consonants.
- Stress Will Change Your Vowels.
- Watch Out For False Friends.
- Learn the Cyrillic alphabet. The Russian language employs the Cyrillic alphabet.
- Learn a few basic nouns and adjectives.
- Learn present tense verb conjugations.
- Put together simple sentences.
- Learn to pluralize words.
- Build your verb vocabulary through apps such as Memrise, Clozemaster.
- Learn past and future verb conjugations.
- Study the case system.
- Explore your options well online or offline, full time or distance learning!
- Should you lack concentration or will to learn anytime, rework your attitude and motivation with lighter things to keep you glued.
- Investing in multiple learning intervals of half an hour to an hour of studying every day a week is much more effective than studying 5-6 hours intensely on weekends.
There are more and more ways to learn Russian online either with your phone or with your laptop – Learning new Russian expressions on websites like LingQ, Russian vocabulary on apps like Drops or listening to the radio in Russian can really speed up your learning process. It’s also a good idea to watch Russian TV series on YouTube.
If you look globally, the number of Russian speakers decreased by a minimum of 50 million people during the last 20 years. This has happened so dramatically and so fast. The future of the Russian language will be different in different countries. What makes Russian a bit different compared to other languages is its many cases and declensions. You could compare them with English personal pronouns that change depending on their grammatical role.
For example, “I” is always the subject (nominative), but when it acts like an object, it becomes “me” (accusative, dative), and when it expresses possession, it becomes “Mine” (genitive). You’ll find the same thing in Russian, except that almost every single word undergoes declension.
So what are you waiting for?
Add this challenge to your bucket list! Now!