Russian is the largest native language in Europe and the most geographically widespread language in Eurasia. It is the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages, with over 258 million total speakers worldwide. Russian is the seventh-most spoken language in the world by a number of native speakers and the eighth-most spoken language in the world by a total number of speakers. The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Russian is also the second-most widespread language on the Internet, after English.
Learning any new language is challenging, but it can also be incredibly fun and rewarding! Whether you’re hoping to learn a few basic phrases to use while traveling or planning to tackle an untranslated Dostoevsky novel, there are lots of resources out there to help you learn Russian. Whatever you plan to do with your newfound knowledge, getting some vocabulary under your belt is a good place to start. You can then expand your understanding of Russian by studying pronunciation, grammar, and the Cyrillic alphabet.
According to FSI findings, Russian is in Language Group IV and it will take you around 1,100 hours to learn it.
Russian may be one of the difficult languages for English speakers to learn, but that makes it all the more rewarding!
1. Sign up for a class at your local college, institute or university.
One of the easiest ways to start learning a language is to take a class. If you’re in college, look at the course catalog and see if Russian is offered. Even if you’re not currently enrolled in a college or university, you may be able to sign up for a Russian class at a school in your area.
- For example, many community colleges in the United States offer continuing education language classes that are open to anyone.
- Some universities also offer online language courses. You can check individual schools’ online programs or find a variety of courses through platforms like Coursera and edX.
2. Search for online resources to get additional help.
There are numerous online resources for people who are interested in learning Russian, and many of them are free. For example, you can find introductory lessons on Russian grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and more on websites like Russianlessons.net or Russianforeveryone.com.
- If you’re more of an audio-visual learner, YouTube offers a wide variety of videos for helping you learn Russian.
3.Use language learning apps to brush up your vocabulary and grammar.
While you probably won’t become fluent using language learning apps, they can help you master some of the basics. These apps can beef up your vocabulary, help you review basic grammar, or teach you useful phrases. A few popular options include:
4. Find a fluent Russian speaker who can practice with you.
Finding a language exchange partner is a great way to refine your skills and apply what you’ve learned. If you don’t know any native Russian speakers, try searching for Russian penpals online or joining a Russian language forum.
- Some apps, like HelloTalk, Tandem, and Speaky, can help you connect with native speakers of a variety of languages. Depending on the app, you may have the ability to communicate via text alone or through voice and video calls as well.
- Websites like Mylanguageexchange.com are also a great way to connect with language-learning partners.
5. Look into immersion programs if you want to become fluent.
If you’re serious about becoming fluent in Russian, an immersion program may be your best bet. Immersion-style learning can help you learn the language on a deeper level and retain it longer than other approaches, even if you go for a while without using the language afterwards.
- In an immersion program, you plunge right into learning the language by actively using it. Instead of gradually introducing various linguistic concepts through instruction in your first language, you will receive most or all of your instruction in Russian.
- While some immersion programs involve going abroad, you may also be able to find immersion classes or schools in your area. Do a search using terms like “Russian immersion program near me.”
6. Learn some common words and phrases.
As you’re just beginning to learn Russian, it can be useful to get some common vocabulary and phrases under your belt. Focus on words or expressions that are likely to come up in everyday conversation. You can use these to help break the ice when you converse with your teachers, classmates, language exchange partners, or native speakers.
7. Familiarize yourself with the Russian alphabet.
Russian is written in an alphabet called Cyrillic, which is quite different from the Latin alphabet used to write English and many other European languages. If you’re not familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet, you’ll have to learn it in order to read and write Russian. You can find the Cyrillic alphabet online or in any Russian textbook or language learning program
- Most of the Cyrillic letters correspond roughly to the letters in the Latin alphabet, but not all of them have exact matches.
8. Work on your pronunciation.
Russian pronunciation is often a challenge for non-native speakers to master. Read up on Russian pronunciation in a textbook or other language learning guide, and listen to people speaking Russian either in person or in recordings so that you understand how the different sounds are pronounced. Keep in mind some of the following rules:
9. Study the basics of grammar.
Much like English, Russian words can be divided into various types or “parts of speech.” These include nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and pronouns. However, these parts of speech may behave in ways that are quite different from what you are used to. You’ll need to study and memorize the rules for understanding how the different parts of speech operate in Russian.
- For example, English nouns change form slightly depending on whether they are singular or plural (e.g., “child, children” or “cat, cats”). Russian nouns have a much wider variety of forms depending on factors like gender, number, and case.
10. Set aside a specific time to study each day.
If you’re taking a formal class or working with a tutor, you’ll probably already have a set class schedule a few days a week. To really reinforce what you’re learning, though, it’s important to also study on your own. Set aside some time every day—for example, 1 hour in the evening—to review vocabulary, grammar, or whatever you are currently working on.
- Even taking 15 minutes every day to quiz yourself on a vocabulary list or some verb forms can be helpful!
- Some language learning experts say that it takes a total of 10,000 hours of study and practice to become fluent in a new language. However, the amount of time you need to spend studying Russian depends on your schedule, your individual learning style, and the level of fluency you want to achieve.
You now have the tools to master the most Russian within a short period. Go forth and learn—these six months will pass easily with dedication!