The key to learning any language is to immerse yourself in the language. Try to study a little each day if possible. Even if you only review one or two words a day. If you are keen to get started you can go straight to Lesson 1. On this page you will find some tips that will help you to learn Russian.
About The Russian Language
Some people say that the Russian language can be hard to learn. This is not really true, learning Russian is no harder than learning other languages. The main difficulty for a lot of people is learning the new grammar structure. If you have learnt other languages before you will already be familiar with some of these grammar concepts, such as gender and cases.
In fact, there are many things that make Russian easier to learn than other languages. The key is to use these things to your advantage. Here are some things that make Russian easier.
1. Once you learn the alphabet, you can pronounce almost all words quite accurately. With Russian the pronunciation is normally quite clear from the written form of the word.
2. Russian does not use complicated sentence structures like English. You can normally say exactly what you want with just a few words. For example, in English to be polite we would say something like “can you please pass me the salt”, however in Russian they would say something simpler like “give salt please”. Speaking so directly may even feel unusual for an English speaker, however it is perfectly normal, just add the word ‘please’ to be polite. This makes it easy to say what you want in Russian, and it will probably be correct. Less words also makes listening to people easier, as you can just pick out the important words.
3. Russian uses the case system. Instead of having a strict sentence word order like in English, you just need to change the ends of the nouns. This makes Russian a very expressive language, because you can emphasise a point by changing the order of the words in a sentence. It also helps you understand what people are trying to say.
4. Russian does not use articles. (Like “a” and “the”)
5. Russian has fewer tenses than English. Russian does not bother with the difference between “I was running”, “I had been running”, etc.
Tips to help you learn Russian
We recommend that you try and immerse yourself in the language. Bookmark this site, and take a new lesson whenever possible. Here are some more ideas that might help you learn.
1. You should practice writing and speaking Russian. Even if you are only speaking to yourself. It will help it to stay in your memory.
2. After you have done a lesson, review it that night. If you review something on the same day, you are more likely to remember it. Particularly if you do it before you go to sleep.
3. Through-out the day, when you say something in English, try to think how you would say it in Russian.
4. Try printing out lessons and putting them in places where you will see them, for example in the toilet, in the shower (where it won't get wet), or at your desk at work.
5. Keep your lesson notes with you. Review them whenever you are bored or waiting for something. For example on a train, or in someone’s car. You could even try making small flash-cards with a Russian word on one side, and the English on the other. Keep them in your pocket, and test yourself on a few words whenever you get the chance.
6. It is important to learn a word or phrase from ‘Russian to English’ as well as ‘English to Russian’. That way you will remember how to say it, not just recognise it when you hear it.
7. Most importantly, when you get the chance: Practice! Never be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone does! The people who make the most mistakes learn the most. Always try to explain what you want, even if it takes time. Even seek out Russians who can’t speak English and try to speak to them. You may not have the chance to practice at home, so if you travel to Russia practice as much as you can.
8. Join our forums section and practice writing things in Russian. To learn Russian you must practice. In particular you must practice writing and speaking, so that you learn to express yourself. Otherwise only your reading will improve. You must write and speak!
If you would like to read a little more about the Russian language then you can have a look at one of our advanced lessons where the Russian language is discussed by a native Russian speaker. But don’t worry it’s also translated to English. You could also click the play button to listen to how it sounds. When you are ready to start learning Russian simply return to lesson 1.
(Link: Article: The Russian Language)
Lesson 1 - Russian Alphabet
Recommended BooksThe New Penguin Russian Course (Amazon) - Probably the best printed Russian course. (No CD).
Teach Yourself Russian Complete Course (Amazon) - A printed russian course with audio CD.