A need for speed isn’t always a bad thing.
Sure, if it’s on the road, you might find yourself with enough speeding tickets to paper your walls.
But if speed is your thing when learning Russian, you can embrace it and watch your language skills soar.
Russian courses can drive you forward to success. Learning websites can ensure your skills get all the upgrades they need. Learning videos can bring you the latest models for Russian speech. Textbooks can help you with the rules and regulations of the language.
When it’s speed you want, though, you may need to go off-road and chart your own path to success.
So if you’re looking to turbocharge your Russian education, try these tips and tricks!
Why Learn Russian Fast?
One popular reason to attempt to learn Russian fast is that you need to use Russian soon. Whether you have an upcoming trip to Russia or a business meeting with Russians, you may very well simply need the Russian language in the not-too-distant future. This will certainly drive you to learn Russian quickly.
You might also want to learn Russian quickly in order to stay motivated. Quick results are very motivating. If you notice a marked improvement in your skills, you’re much more likely to keep studying Russian, which will in turn lead to more learning.
Another reason to learn Russian quickly is to maintain focus. Staying interested in a subject for a long time can be difficult. If you learn Russian quickly, though, you should be able to maintain focus long enough to gain some real skills.
Learn Russian Fast: 8 Tips for Russian Speed Demons
1. Take the time to learn Cyrillic.
The Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet. Some letters are the same as the English alphabet, but others are a little different, so it’s important to take the time to learn Cyrillic.
There are a lot of resources that offer transliterations of Russian words to save you the trouble, but these are actually likely to waste more of your time than just learning the alphabet.
The reasons for this are twofold:
- First of all, there are a number of sounds in Russian that are difficult to make based on transliterations. For instance, ж should be pronounced like the “s” in “pleasure.” However, it’s usually transliterated as “zh.” Is it really easier to remember what “zh” is meant to sound like than to just learn ж?
- Additionally, there are a number of words in Russian that are similar to English words. We’ll go into this more later, but the fact of the matter is, if you lean on transliterations, you won’t be able to read at all. However, if you learn the alphabet, even if you don’t study any vocabulary, you’ll still be able to understand some written words just by sounding them out. For instance, if you see a sign that says аэропорт, you can easily determine that this means “airport” since the words are nearly identical.
There are lots of great resources out there for learning the Russian alphabet. For instance, you might try Master Russian’s guide or RussianPlus’s popular YouTube video. Regardless of what source you choose, learning the alphabet shouldn’t take long, and it will save you a lot of time in the long run.
2. Use authentic media.
Using authentic media is a fun and useful way to learn Russian quickly. By using audio and video made for native speakers and listening to the Russian language in context, you can more directly apply what you learn to real-world situations.
One great tool for learning Russian with authentic media is FluentU. FluentU features real-world videos—like movie trailers, music videos, news and more—but pairs them with awesome learning resources. Each video is captioned, and the captions are annotated. This puts any word’s definition, associated image and example sentences at the tips of your fingers. Want to see how the word might be used in other contexts? Click a word to see how it’s used in other videos!
FluentU takes all kinds of videos and turns them into language learning experiences, as you can see here:
Didn’t catch something? Go back and listen again. Missed a word? FluentU makes native Russian videos approachable through interactive captions. Tap or click on any word to see a definition, in-context usage examples, audio pronunciation, helpful images and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab. Easily review words and phrases with audio under Vocab.
Don’t stop there, though. Use FluentU’s quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.
And FluentU always keeps track of vocabulary that you’re learning. It uses that vocab to give you a 100% personalized experience by recommending videos and examples.
You might think that you’d have to get started on the previous tip before you begin learning with videos, but FluentU covers all learning levels, starting with the alphabet and giving you a guided, personalized experience all the way through native-level media.
3. Learn common words first.
Learning the most common words first will ensure that you’re able to use your Russian skills immediately. Getting fully fluent will still take some more time, but being able to communicate in Russian right off the bat is like getting a running start on the road to fluency. After all, if you know the most common words, you’ll be able to hold basic conversations and listen to authentic sources, which will in turn lead to more learning.
To get started, you might try this guide to the 1,000 most common Russian words from 101 Languages.
4. Learn words that tie to your native language or are the same across languages.
Many languages, including Russian and English, share some words that are similar or exactly the same.
There are two main reasons for this.
- One reason is that words in different languages may share the same root words. For instance, many words have Latin or Greek roots, so you might find them to be the same or similar between Russian and English.
- Another cause of the similar words between languages is the existence of loanwords. Sometimes, one language will adopt words from other languages, and this can lead to words being the same across languages.
If you want to learn some Russian words that were borrowed from English words, you might look at Fun Russian’s helpful guide to Anglicisms. For a more general list of words that are the same or similar between Russian and English, try this cognate article from The Russian Blog.
5. Immerse yourself in Russian, at home or abroad.
Immersion is the quickest way to learn any language.
If you can go abroad to immerse yourself in Russian, that’s terrific! If not, you can still immerse yourself at home.
To really benefit from home immersion, put together a plan. What will you do every day at home to surround yourself with the Russian language? Think through your daily routine, and think about all the places you could insert a little Russian.
For instance, you might try downloading a Russian audio track to use as an alarm each morning. You could enjoy some Russian cartoons with your breakfast. You could listen to Russian podcasts during your drive to work. As you think through your day, you’ll find more and more places to work Russian into your routine.
One easy way to start immersing yourself as a beginner is to buy the Russian Vocabulary Stickers set, which gives you pre-made labels for common items around your home and office. Before you know it, you’ll have memorized a bunch of useful Russian words, without even trying.
6. Practice your skills daily.
Regardless of which fast learning techniques you use, it’s important to practice your Russian skills daily.
Daily practice is important to encourage your skills to keep moving forward, whether this is through immersion techniques or just studying daily. It can be tempting to study for hours one day and then wait a few days to study again. The problem with this is that your skills will backslide during your time away from learning, thereby slowing down your learning progress. If you make learning Russian a daily activity, you won’t have to waste as much time relearning material.
7. Find a native speaker to interact with.
Interacting with native speakers is a quick way to improve your skills. Speaking with Russians will improve your pronunciation, speaking and listening. A written pen pal relationship can also improve your reading and writing.
8. Use a targeted program.
There are a number of targeted learning programs that promise fast results. When used in combination with authentic learning materials, targeted programs can be a helpful way to put your learning into overdrive.
Here are a few learning programs that you might pair with authentic resources.
- Russian Accelerator: Russian Accelerator is an online course that focuses on teaching you Russian quickly through key phrases, contextual learning and pattern recognition. There are 90 lessons that incorporate audio and video. Each lesson takes about 30 minutes, and it’s estimated that you should be able to complete the course in under a year.
- Russian Made Easy: This Udemy Russian course, Russian Made Easy, is a course designed to teach you the basics quickly. Video lessons are about 20 minutes long and feature native speakers. Lessons cover vocabulary, the case system and verb conjugations. The 15 lessons in this course are free, while the 15 lessons in the next course are available for $20. You can find a variety of other affordable courses on Udemy to target various aspects of Russian learning, from pronunciation to conversation to TORFL prep.
- Live Lingua “Russian Fast Course”: Live Lingua’s “Russian Fast Course” is a free course featuring text and audio. The course includes a free e-book accompanied by audio. The idea is that you learn through “guided imitation” and repetition. The accompanying text also contains activities to improve your skills.
- “Learn Russian the Fast and Fun Way”: “Learn Russian the Fast and Fun Way” is a book that’s chock-full of engaging material. Lessons are interspersed with activities that help you apply your knowledge. Since applying learning reinforces it, this is a great way to improve quickly.
It’s time to hit the gas on your Russian education.
Try these tips to take your Russian from zero to 60 in no time!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Russian with real-world videos.