Russian is a language spoken by over 285 million people worldwide, making it the fifth most spoken language after Hindi, Spanish, English and Mandarin. Learning how to speak in the Russian language can be intimidating at first, but it is possible with practice. If you are committed to learn the language, be warned that the Cyrillic alphabet may look daunting at first, but will come naturally after several months of learning.
Once you’re ready to take on the Russian language, you need to arm yourself with a Russian-English dictionary, a quick reference chart, plenty of patience with spelling and grammar, and a person who can speak, write and communicate using the Russian language. You have several options of learning Russian – books (traditional), language software, classroom setting and long-term living in Russia.
- Learn Russian with Books – If you’re the traditional type who learns more effectively at their own pace, then working with Russian books is your best bet. You can buy yourself an e-book reader such as the iPad or Kindle, download some Russian tutorial digital books and enjoy learning wherever you go. You can also keep it simple by buying one or two paper books to guide you. Most books include CDs, which help students listen to how the words are correctly pronounced as they read the book. This is an important part of any language books, because a book alone won’t help anyone learn Russian.
- Learn Russian with Computer Programs – If you’re a visual learner, language software focused in Russian can be a good alternative to books. Although the success rate of using programs in learning a language depends largely on how well a person can work on his/her own, many programs today are designed to be more interactive, allowing the learner to practice the language with computer-generated voices. Russian language software such as Rosetta Stone, TeachMe! Russian, Say It In Russian, Russian Complete Edition and RussianNow!, among others, usually have different levels to cater to beginners and advanced Russian speakers.
- Learn Russian in the Classroom – If you prefer one-on-one instruction, you can enroll in Russian classes offered by colleges or universities in your city. Most of the time, short courses are available for students to learn how to read, write, hear and speak Russian. Courses are usually designed for beginners. Materials needed may include books and software programs, but often cost less than sold in bookstores.
- Learn Russian Online – Aside from reading books and using software programs, those who prefer self-learning Russian can find a plethora of resources online. You can check out free workbooks, podcasts, videos, recordings, lessons and other types of informational programs. Some of these services are free, while some may require registration or monthly membership fees. If you don’t have a satellite cable, you can check out web-based Russian TV channels and watch some of the shows there. You can also tune in to Russian radio stations via the internet.
- Learn Russian in Russia – The most effective way of learning Russian quickly is by traveling and staying in any Russian-speaking country for several months. By surrounding yourself with the locals and their culture, you will have no choice but to learn the Russian language properly. Basic conversations in Russian, such as asking for directions, reading street signs, ordering food from a menu, making small talk with strangers can allow you to speak and understand Russian naturally.
Russian Language Help: Basic Tips to Learn Russian Quickly
Like learning other non-native languages, Russian can be a difficult language to learn. Anyone can do it, but you will be faced with plenty of problems on the way. To make the learning process easier to deal with, here are a few tips you should put to heart before committing to the Russian language:
1. Start with the Basics – To identify the Cyrillic alphabet more easily, you should first listen and learn the sound of vowels. Using a recorded tape or CD, repeat syllables with vowels to train your brain to identify them.
2. Practice Short Conversational Dialogues – Even if you’re not a pro Russian speaker, you can begin reading simple dialogues and repeat them until you get it right.
3. Study Russian Grammar – This is probably the most difficult part in learning Russian because grammar can be confusing particular if you opt to study Russian through textbooks. The best way to use Russian properly is to practice communicating with a native speaker and ask him/her to explain grammar every now and then. This is a gradual learning, so be patient if you don’t get it during your first try.
4. Buy or Make a Cheat Sheet – If you plan to use your newly learned language to use around Russia, be sure to create and bring a quick reference cheat sheet for Russian grammar. Don’t be embarrassed if you consult it regularly. It is a good way to correct mistakes early.
5. Understand Russian Nouns and Adjectives First – Before dissecting other elements of the Russian language, you should first learn the rules of basic nouns, such as gender. You don’t have to learn all the nouns in one go; you can stick to useful nouns and everything else will follow. You should then learn useful adjectives and expressions that describe nouns. Once you’ve learn the basic nouns and adjectives, understand their six cases, which includes nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, prepositional and instrumental.
6. Emphasis – Always be attentive in finding where the emphasis is placed in a word. This is important because it could change the pronunciation and meaning of a word. For instance, “o” becomes “a” without an accent over the o, while “v” becomes “f.”
7. Verbs and Tenses – When studying Russian verbs, stick to the infinitive case first before tackling other cases. You should also follow it up with lessons on present, past and future tenses, along with singular and plural forms (that change according to gender). Practice the verbs you learned by mixing it with nouns and adjectives.
8. Vocabulary – While learning the different parts of a sentence, it is recommended that you continue adding more Russian words into your vocabulary. Even if you learn one or two words a day, imagine how many words you’ve mastered in the next six months.
9. Write in Russian – Although this is one of the hardest parts in learning another language, you need to practice writing in Russian, even if your notes include the simplest things, such as the food you ate throughout the day, the places you went to and other basic sentences.
10. Practice – Always practice what you learn. If you’re not staying in a Russian-speaking country, you can visit any Russian store and try to communicate the language. You can also look for a friend online, who you could speak through Skype or other web-based messaging programs.
11. Find a tutor – Unless you are extremely dedicated to learning the Russian language, it is best to find a good tutor who could help you throughout your lessons, even if you’ve finished lessons on complex grammar. You can choose the traditional way of finding Russian tutors in classified ads and attend classes face-to-face, or you can find an online tutor who could guide you through your lessons via web applications, such as voice chat, instant messengers and the like.
Online Russian language learning: 10 Free Russian Tutorial Websites
The vast resources online allow anyone to learn Russian even without paying a cent. If you’re looking for some Russian language resources online, here are some that you may find useful. These are in no particular order:
Most of these websites teach basic Russian, which you may find useful in day-to-day conversations in a Russian-speaking country. Some of the websites, such as the Russianpod101.com, provides podcasts in Russian, which may help you when you are learning to determine about emphasis in words, or correct pronunciation. Be aware that most online lessons and software programs provide only a few practical lessons that you need to be conversationally fluent in Russian. The best ways to learn the language is through chatting, writing, reading, and speaking Russian on a regular basis, which could lead to Russian fluency.