Russian is an East Slavic language native to the Russians in Eastern Europe. It is a part of the Indo-European language family, and is one of four living East Slavic languages, and also part of the larger Balto-Slavic branch. Russian is an official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and is used widely as a lingua franca throughout Ukraine, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and to some extent in the Baltic states. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution, and is used in an official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet states. The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
Russian has over 258 million total speakers worldwide, and is the most spoken Slavic language, the most spoken native language in Europe, as well as the most geographically widespread language in Eurasia. Large numbers of Russian speakers are residents of other countries, such as Israel and Mongolia. It is the world’s seventh-most spoken language by number of native speakers, and the world’s eighth-most spoken language by total number of speakers. Russian is also the second-most widespread language on the Internet, after English.
You might already have your own good reasons for learning Russian. Perhaps you like the sound of the Russian accent, or admire the Russian ballet and literature, or want to get a Russian girlfriend or meet your prince charming. Maybe you plan to do business in Russia or simply want to visit Moscow as a tourist. Just in case you are still wondering about the benefits of learning Russian, here are ten great reasons to get started.
Top 10 Reasons to Learn Russian
1. Russian Is One Of The World’s Most Spoken Languages
On the list of the most widely spoken languages globally, Russian comes eighth. Believe it or not, it’s the most spoken language in Europe. In terms of sheer geographic access, learning Russian will open doors for you — not just in Russia, but also in Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Israel. It’s also a popular second language for much of Eastern Europe because of Russia’s lasting political influence.
2. Russia Is The Largest Country In The World
Russia is a mind-bogglingly large country. Fun fact: It’s actually the biggest country in the world by area, and is significantly larger than the runner-up country, Canada. In fact, it crosses 11 whole time zones. Imagine just how much there is to discover in this endless country! A few examples: Russia has a full 29 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the Kremlin and Lake Baikal to the Golden Mountains of Altai — there is immense cultural and ecological wealth to be found in Russia.
3. Russians Don’t Speak A Lot Of English
If you’re going to heed the call to adventure, you probably shouldn’t count too much on your English. Russia has some of the lowest rates of English proficiency around. Only about 5 percent of Russians have a command of English, and in the majority of Russian cities, you’ll find almost no signs written in the Latin alphabet. Not exactly a tourist’s dream. So if you want to conquer the lands of the old Russian Empire, you can’t get around without at least a basic knowledge of Russian. It’s definitely worth tackling the Cyrillic alphabet and learning some phrases in order to connect with the locals on your trip!
4. Russia Isn’t A World Away
Russia is somewhere way off in the distance and has nothing in common with the English-speaking world. But actually, you can fly to St. Petersburg from London in just a little over three hours, which is shorter than the time it takes to get to Athens. Even for individuals based in the U.S., Canada and Australia, most of Russia’s top travel destinations are in continental Europe, so it’s not out of the way if you’re planning a grand tour of Europe!
5. Learning Russian Is A Challenge
And that’s a good thing! In this way, Russian lives up to its hype. It’s one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn, owing in part to its complex grammatical structure. And the Cyrillic alphabet seems so foreign that it’s enough to put some people off of learning the language. It’s actually not nearly as scary as it looks. Remember — you can tackle it in two days. And when you do learn it, you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment!
6. The US Government needs more Russian-language specialists
Federal agencies have identified Russian as a priority language of national need. Among the agencies that seek expertise in Russian: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Human Development, Department of Labor, and Department of the Interior. The FCC, ITC, FBI, CIA, NSA and State Department have also identified Russian as a priority language. These agencies are hiring, and need your Russian-language skills!
7. Russia is a regional power and is returning as a world power
Russia has associations with the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, such as a customs union and collective security treaty organization. Key Russian politicians are proposing a “Eurasian Union” embracing these states,strategically encompassing the economic and security spheres. This prospectively boosts Russian economic, foreign policy and military influence in the region. Russia also defends its traditional influences in the non-aligned and developing world and continues to prioritize the modernization of defense. NASA depends on the Russian Space Agency to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Finally, Russia’s resource-based economy has emerged from the global crisis relatively unscathed. Energy industry analysts suggest that up to 50% of Europe’s natural gas could be controlled by Russia by2030.
8. Speak Russian to engage in the Russian economy
Russia is one of the largest producers,if not the largest producer, of numerous natural resources and raw materials including petroleum, diamonds, gold, copper, manganese, uranium, silver,graphite, and platinum. Russia is the second largest steel producer in the world after Japan, and has an enormous timber reserve. It is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, third largest producer of oil and fourth-largest in terms of the mining of coal. Russia has an estimated 40% of the world total reserves of natural gas. Russia’s proven oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia’s, and it is the top oil producer in the world. Russia is an enormous market for US goods and services. With Russian language skills, you can work with American businesses participating in this successful market.Florida and Russia are doing business too: two-way trade between Florida and Russia was more than $986 million in 2007. And Russia ranks among the top ten countries in the world for entrepreneurship.
9. Russian is an important language for science and technology.
According to a recent study, the number of publications in the sciences is highest for English, with Russian second. This is the case for chemistry, physics, geology, mathematics, and biological sciences. Russia always has had a rich tradition in the sciences, from Mendeleev to recent Fields medalists in mathematics. The Soviet tradition of creating scientific towns and scholarly communities is giving way to a system of entrepreneurship backed by state agencies and private-sector start-ups.Innovations in computer programming, software engineering, and information technology are coming out of Russian government agencies and private firms.
10. Studying Russian helps you enter post-graduate programs
Students who study Russian have a high rate of acceptance for graduate study in law school, business school,medical school, and other professional programs.
Ultimately, learning any language is about grabbing on to the opportunities around you and making them work. So, find a Russian book, subscribe to a Russian TV channel , buy some Russian music, find someone in town who knows Russian and go ahead and take the time to sign up for that class!
Work with all these tools and soon you can be speaking and reading, understanding and using Russian… and then you can head off to Russia!
All the best!!!