How to learn to speak and write in the Russian language?
Russian, 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, 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. The current Russian spelling follows the major reform of 1918, and the final codification of 1956. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 26 December 1991 and is used in an official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states. Large numbers of Russian speakers are residents of other countries like Israel and Mongolia. It 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. 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.
Let's now see how to learn to speak and write in Russian language
Starting with the basics
Russian is a phonetic language. This means more or less every Russian letter corresponds to a single sound, and it can be learnt by learning the Russian alphabet. Once you have learned the initial sounds to pronounce every letter of the alphabet correctly, learn what other sounds the letters can make. For example, ‘o’ can be ‘a’ sometimes in Russian.
The Russian alphabet is derived from the Cyrillic alphabet and consists of 33 letters, including 11 vowels, 20 consonants and 2 letters which make no sound, but make a word sound harder or softer.
Learn to count. Knowing how to count is an essential skill in any language. Learning Russian numbers can be tricky, as each number has six different forms, depending on how it’s used. However, the nominative case is the most widely used and therefore the best place to start.
Memorize simple vocabulary. The wider the vocabulary you have at your disposal, the easier it is to speak a language fluently. Familiarize yourself with as many simple, everyday Russian words and phrases as possible to help you start your first conversation such as:
Hello = Здравствуйте, pronounced “ZDRAST-vooy-tye” [ˈzdrastvʊjtʲe]
“‘Hello (less formal)”‘ = Здравствуй , pronounced, “ZDRAST-vooy-tye” [ˈzdrastvʊj]
Hi = Привет, pronounced “pree-VYET” [prʲɪˈvʲet]
Yes = Да, pronounced “da” [da]
No = Нет, pronounced “nyet” [nʲet]
Thank you = Спасибо, pronounced “spuh-SEE-buh” [spɐˈsʲibə]
Please = Пожалуйста, pronounced “pah-ZHAH-luh-stuh” [pɐˈʐalʊstə]
Okay = Хорошо, pronounced “ha-ra-sho” [xərɐˈʂo]
Goodbye = До свидания, pronounced “da-svee-da-nee-ye” [də‿svʲɪˈdanʲɪjə]
Learn via the Immersion approach. Attach little Russian labels to objects in your house. This way, you’ll remember the words better by associating them with the object directly rather translating them from English to Russian!
Study the basic grammar. In order to speak any language correctly, it is necessary to study the grammar particular to that language. Russian grammar can appear quite daunting initially but once you get the hang of the grammar you’ll find that Russian is a very direct and expressive language!
Read through the case system, genders, noun, verbs thoroughly.
Don’t be discouraged! Learning a new language takes time and practice. It won’t happen overnight.
Find a native speaker. One of the best ways to improve your new language skills is to practice speaking with a native speaker, who will be able to correct any grammar or pronunciation mistakes and can introduce you to more informal or colloquial forms of speech that you won’t find in a textbook. Find a native Russian speaker in and around your neighbourhood you could also look for one online on websites such as Hello Talk, Tandem, Languagepartners, Conversationpartners Italki etcetera.
Consider signing up for a language course. If you are serious language learners and wish to take it a step ahead into formally learning Russian I suggest you to sign up for a language course online or offline
Watch Russian films, cartoons, and videos. You can watch movies on some Russian DVDs (with subtitles), watch Russian cartoons online, or search YouTube for Russian-speaking YouTubers. This is an easy, entertaining way to get a feel for the sound and structure of the Russian language.
Learn to Write Russian
- Learn the Cyrillic alphabet.
Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, which originated (fun fact) in the 9th century.
Russian letters can be divided into four groups on the basis of their look and sound, as compared with their English counterparts :
First Group: Written and pronounced the same as English. Six Russian letters—namely A, E, K, M, O, and T.
Second Group: Look different but sound the same as English. Sixteen Russian letters symbolized by a completely different letter. These include Б, Г, Д, Ё, Ж, П, Ф, И, й, Л, Ц, Ш, Щ, Э, Ю and Я.
Third Group: Look familiar but are pronounced differently than English. Eight Russian letters look very similar to some English letters and numbers but they are pronounced very differently—these are В, З, Н, Р, С, У, Ч, Х.
Fourth Group: New letters and unfamiliar sound which do not exist in English at all —for example: Ы, Ъ, Ь.
Try using mnemonics for the trickiest letters in the third group:
В looks like the reels of a video tape, and sounds like one rewinding: V-v-v-v-v.
Н sounds like N as in nail, and looks like two planks nailed together.
Р is an R that has lost a leg and started Rolling downhill. (This sound is rolled in Russian.)
У is a pair of fireworks about to launch; the crowd says oooo when it sees them.
You can find the full Russian alphabet here,
Learn to pronounce the letters yourself.
The best way to memorize letters is to first learn to pronounce them. Forming the letters in your mind and writing them without having a reference set in front of you, is the only way to learn to write Russian on your own. You can take a look at this YouTube video that teaches viewers the Russian alphabet.
Learn Russian writing.
- Cursive- You now need to learn an entire script—Russian cursive. A few Russian cursive worksheets is really all you need for this step.
- 2. Typing
Learning to type in Russian is essential for business purposes, finding russian videos and other content. Memorize where Russian letters are placed on a keyboard and then work on your skills.
Attempt online Russian writing exercises.
Look for relevant and reliable online Russian exercises that can help you improve your writing skills. These can include quizzes that test your knowledge of the Russian alphabet, games where you can write in answers or anything else that gets you writing.
Learning to write in Russian can be easily mastered with just a few hours per week and little effort other than following the steps in this post! Once you feel comfortable with the basics of Russian speech, consider taking a trip to Russia or another Russian-speaking country. What better way to immerse yourself in the Russian language than a journey to the Motherland! Learning how to speak Russian is a big accomplishment, and you can achieve it by putting in the time and effort you will be richly rewarded. Russian is a beautiful and complex language with over 150 million native speakers.
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