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Learn Russian

Why Should You Learn Russian?

It’s fascinating

Simply put, Russia has always been an interesting place. Learning Russian will give you a special insight into the captivating yet tortured history of its people. You’ll see the tsars in a new light (especially when you find out what Ivan the Terrible translates to in Russian) and feel a little bit of what it’s like to have that “mysterious Russian soul.”

Even though this isn’t very widely known, Russian culture can be surprisingly artistic. From Pushkin the poet to Chekhov the playwright, to internationally known authors like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, you will discover a whole new world of literature to study and appreciate.

Speaking of art, learning Russian cursive, while quite a daunting task, will introduce you to one of the most beautiful scripts in the world. It’s something to impress friends and native speakers alike!

It’s useful

Russian is widely spoken

If you enjoy traveling, Russian is a great language to have in your back pocket. Several countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have Russian as an official language, and it’s a commonly learned language in many other countries. Simply put, in a large swathe of the planet, you will have a strong chance of finding a Russian speaker.

Learning Russian can help you navigate situations where no one around speaks English, or give you inside access to places that the locals want to share with you just because you took an interest in their culture.

Russian can help you understand other languages

Russian is one of the Slavic languages, which means that you’ll discover some similarities between it and other members of the Slavic language family. Don’t be too surprised if you start understanding words and parts of sentences in languages besides Russian once you start learning it! Cyrillic letters themselves are used in many languages and bear a strong resemblance to Greek as well.

Because Russian is so different from English, you will have numerous new concepts to wrap your head around. This will make you better equipped to handle any future language that may pique your interest down the road, and will likely make many far less intimidating.

Russian will train your brain for any task

When you learn any foreign language, you will be using your brain in entirely new ways once you start learning it. This is definitely true with Russian.

Keeping your brain exercised is vital and will improve your performance in many other aspects of life.

You will also learn the discipline it takes to learn any new skill, which can give you an advantage in learning anything from guitar to crochet.

It’s relevant

Russian is in the news

Russia and countries under its sphere of influence have always played a prominent role on the global stage. This can be traced back through history, and it’s never been truer than it is today.

In fact, you may often hear Russian spoken in the news. Learning Russian means that you will understand nuances that the subtitles will never capture.

Learning Russian will also allow you to discuss recent and past events in history with native speakers. Speaking their language will enable you to hear their opinions on important issues first-hand, giving you a more in-depth picture of how people really feel about these things. You will be able to bypass the news media and go straight to the source yourself.

Russian is one of the official UN languages

Along with Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish, Russian is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Having these official languages is crucial to the organization functioning effectively. It allows the UN to gather a strong team of interpreters and translators for these six languages, and also consolidate what languages their official documents are written in.

Whether or not learning Russian leads you to a career at the UN or not, this simple fact demonstrates the language’s importance.

Russian may be a local language

There are historically Russian neighborhoods in many areas. You might be able to recognize them by the small markets specializing in Eastern European foods.

In fact, you’ll find a sizable number of Russian native speakers all over the world, from the United States to Europe and Central Asia.

Learning Russian will gain you a special kind of access to these communities and will deeply impress the locals as well.

You might be interested in learning Russian to connect with relatives, in-laws or perhaps to better understand the lives of your ancestors. If that’s the case, you will likely find learning Russian to be especially rewarding, since it can help you develop deeper relationships within your family, as well as appreciate your cultural heritage on a whole new level.

How You Can Learn Russian

Learn Russian

Start with the Cyrillic alphabet

One of the biggest misconceptions about Russian is that the alphabet is hard. It’s not entirely surprising that people think this—it does seem at first to be a rather strange mixture of the familiar, unknown and the plain weird (like having a letter identical to the number 3).

Believe it or not, the Russian alphabet is one of the easiest things about learning Russian. That may not sound too comforting at first, but you will likely agree once you discover how logical it is. Unlike English, Russian spelling and pronunciation are very regular, with only a handful of exceptions.

To learn the Russian alphabet efficiently, try starting with the letters that you’re already familiar with. From there, tackle the letters that look the same in English but have different sounds, and then learn the letters that neither look nor sound like English.

Use the same materials that native Russian speakers do

You didn’t learn English from a textbook. So you shouldn’t only use textbooks and other learner-oriented material to learn Russian.

One way to have fun with your Russian learning is to think of all the things that you like doing in English, then Russianize them! For example, if you’re a film buff, start exploring Russian movies. If you love reading, pick up some authentic novels to learn Russian.

Russian media is widespread and quite varied, so you’re bound to find something you like. Using these kinds of authentic materials will help you sound more natural when speaking Russian, and will also help you understand native Russian speakers with greater ease.

But everything is best in moderation. You still should use some textbooks or textbook-like material to round out your studies. They provide you with valuable pieces of the puzzle that is the Russian language.

Focus on Russian vocabulary and phrases

Once you’ve decided to learn Russian, it’s important to feel like you’re making progress, especially when you’re a complete beginner.

One way to do this is to focus on learning Russian phrases and words instead of the rules behind them. This will help you learn Russian like a native speaker and speak Russian more quickly.

You’ll also find that your comprehension will soar and your own ease of communication improving as well.

Your language learning journey will be a long one, so it’s best to find methods that are sustainable as soon as possible.

Come back to Russian grammar later

The Russian language is very grammatically different from English, which means that you will need to have a basic understanding of what those differences are and how they work.

The best way to learn Russian grammar is to absorb it from the experts. Spend as much time as possible with native Russian speakers, listen to Russian audio, read Russian books, do whatever you enjoy. You will find yourself picking up the correct structure without having to think about the rules behind them.

More advanced learners may wish to refocus on grammar later on, but they shouldn’t rush. You might enjoy improving your English grammar once in a while, but you probably don’t spend extensive amounts of time on it if you don’t need to. The same principle applies to learning Russian.

Where Should You Learn Russian?

Learn Russian

On your own

Learning the Russian language on your own can be a blast if done the right way.

To succeed, try focusing on Russian immersion, which is a great method for language learning in general.

One major advantage of teaching yourself is that you can adapt your Russian lessons to meet your tastes and learning style.

In a classroom

If you enjoy the traditional route and learn best in a classroom setting, you have two main options:

  • You can learn Russian online in a more structured format. This is often done one-on-one with a Russian teacher. These tutors can help you improve your Russian pronunciation and make sure you really understand how it should correlate to Russian letters and the Cyrillic alphabet more generally. They can also drill your speaking skills, teach you Russian words that are most useful to you and make sure you’re reaching your goals to learn Russian fast. Some offer the first lesson for free so you can see how you like the format first.
  • Alternatively, you could take an in-person class. This is another great way to boost your language skills and meet other English speakers who are learning Russian. An advantage of these is that in-person classes can help you stay focused on trying to learn Russian—it’s harder to be distracted in a classroom rather than at home.

If it’s more the structure without the human interaction you’re looking for, there are plenty of free Russian courses with plenty of great information.

In a Russian-speaking area

If you would like to travel to learn Russian, you have a couple of choices.

First, you could go to a Russian-speaking country (of which there are many) and practice there.

If your budget doesn’t allow for that, you could travel to an area of your own country that is Russian population-dense.

What Materials Should You Use?

Short videos

Videos about Russian

Videos about the Russian language can explain linguistic concepts while giving you lists of Russian words to learn. They can improve your overall language learning know-how by explaining how the different parts of speech work together.

Videos in Russian

Videos that are simply in Russian but have nothing to do with language learning can be a great tool. You can tailor the Russian videos you watch based on your interests, which will help you look forward to this kind of study time.

You can also watch authentic Russian videos on FluentU, paired with dual-language interactive subtitles to teach you new words in the context of movie trailers, interviews, music videos and more.

TV Series

Russian TV shows work well as a resource because of their addictive nature. While your family may have had a valid reason to criticize your binge-watching habits, they won’t be able to say a word when you turn it into study time.

Another nice aspect of TV series is all the brief little Russian phrases and interjections you’ll pick up from them. These will impress the natives while being fun to learn.


One great way to enhance your speaking skills is to listen to Russian podcasts since they can show you how Russians converse among themselves. Almost any kind of Russian audio will do the trick, as the key is to practice understanding Russian without having subtitles in front of you.

Some podcast hosts tend to speak at a slower pace, which is helpful for beginning Russian learners. You’ll also hear the trickier vowel sounds more clearly, which will help you speak Russian with less of an accent.

Combine this with talking to Russian native speakers to speed up your learning! If you don’t get out there and actually use the language by talking to real people, all the time it took you to learn Russian will have been of little use. Actually using it conversationally will help you learn Russian more quickly.


Music is a phenomenal way to learn Russian because it can be enjoyed at any learning level.

It also allows you to learn Russian anytime you want, as playing it in the background will get you used to the rhythms of the Russian language. You will eventually find some of the lyrics getting stuck in your head, which will increase your motivation and connection with the language even more.

Singing along with your favorite Russian songs is a great way to improve your accent as well, so don’t be shy! You’ll be glad you did.

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