Learning Russian is simpler than you might think. Using these eight simple steps, you can be reading, writing, and speaking Russian quickly and easily.
If you plan on traveling to Russia, or hope to communicate internationally for business, learning the language will open many doors. Russians have a great appreciation for outsiders or tourists who make attempts to communicate with them in their mother tongue. Very few Russians speak English, so learning the basics of spoken and written Russian will help your travels be smooth and pleasant.
Start with the Alphabet
Cyrillic seems intimidating at first to new learners but compared to the alphabets of its more grammatically changeable counterparts, such as English, the thirty-three Russian letters are relatively straightforward. Each Cyrillic letter has only one sound associated with it, which simplifies the process of memorizing pronunciation.
Russian words tend to be long, and some of the sounds may be difficult for an untrained tongue to pronounce. However, once you know the sounds of the Russian alphabet, you never have to guess how a word is pronounced; Russian words are spoken just like they are spelled.
Practice Easy Dialogues
“What is that?” and similar call-and-response practice will be beneficial as you learn to identify objects, actions, and words. The memorization of short, easy phrases forms a good basis for communication, flowing off the tongue without the need to mentally wade through complicated conjugations.
Begin with the Basics
Nouns are a cornerstone of your Russian foundation. Learn basic nouns and their gender rules – male, female, or neuter. The ending of a noun typically determines its gender.
Learn adjectives to describe the nouns you’re learning. Basic adjectives allow you to better describe what you see, hear, and think.
Practice Your Pronunciation
Russian words have precise stress patterns. Usually, vowels are emphasized, but which vowel you stress will determine how the word is understood. Pay careful attention to the emphasis in a word—this change in pronunciation may change the word’s meaning entirely.
5 Learn the Cases
Basic Russian language mastery is largely based on correctly using the six cases. Unlike English, which has few cases with little effect on sentence construction, Russian cases affect nouns, pronouns, and adjectives.
Learn the six cases verbs are broken into – your ability to correctly conjugate allows you to communicate more naturally and effectively.
It may seem like Russian has a lot of rules—and it does. But unlike other languages with vast amounts of irregularities, in spelling, gender, or pronunciation, Russian follows its rules to a tee.
Start with the Present Tense
In the beginning, your quiver of verbs should focus on memorizing the infinitive. There are six tenses; by learning these, you can communicate a lot in the present tense. It might not be pretty, but “I eat dinner yesterday” and “They go to school tomorrow” will get your point across.
Don’t Go It Alone
Speaking Russian with someone else—whether an online tutor or a Russian-speaking neighbor down the street—is a critical part of mastering the language’s basics. Finding Russian tutors online is simple and affordable through services like Preply.com.
The benefits of speaking the language with another person include immediate feedback, the opportunity to practice conversation and dialogue, and the chance to keep things interesting and entertaining. Talking with another person will give you motivation, where learning by yourself can become tedious.
Immerse Yourself as Much as Possible.
Label objects in your home. Watch Russian movies and TV shows. Listen to podcasts like Slow Russian. Listen to Russian music. Bringing the language into your daily life—however minimally—will help you retrain your brain to speak—and eventually think—in Russian.