When you list the most spoken languages in the world, Russian sits high in eighth place. It is also the first language of many Eastern European countries. Having a working knowledge of Russian makes traveling in countries such as Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Lithuania, Estonia, and, of course, Russia, easier whether you are visiting for pleasure or business.
Learning this Slavic language also provides a stimulating mental challenge, as you’ll need to crack the Cyrillic alphabet and some tricky grammar rules. Enlist the support of an experienced and friendly Russian teacher to learn Russian online and you’ll come away with a real sense of achievement as your skills develop. To help get your studies started, we’ve put together five proven techniques to learn Russian easily.
1. Motivation – finding your Russian language mojo
The first step to finding and maintaining your motivation for learning Russian online is identifying why you’ve made the decision to learn the language. Are you planning a vacation in Russia or in another Russian-speaking country, or maybe you are going to work in Russia? As a tourist, it is useful to have a vocabulary for getting around on public transport, ordering a meal in a restaurant, checking into a hotel, or seeking help if needed. If visiting for business, you’ll need a more professional grounding in the language.
Identifying your learning needs helps you find a suitable Russian tutor while also providing the motivation needed for a successful pursuit of your language studies. With the right motivation, you’ll have no problem putting in the hours needed for building up your vocabulary and coming to grips with Russian grammar. In fact, making time to study every day (even if it’s just for a few minutes) is one of the best things you can do to stay motivated and make progress.
2. Conquer the Cyrillic alphabet
The second technique to help you learn Russian easily is to develop a confident familiarity with the 33 letters that make up the Cyrillic alphabet. This alphabet may look daunting at first glance, but look a little closer, and you’ll see that some letters are very similar in appearance to those in the English alphabet. A good example of this similarity is the word for an airport – аэропорт. Once you have a close look at it, you’ll be able to identify an ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘p’, ‘o’, and ‘t’. Then, the next stage is learning the sounds associated with different letters. For example, the Russian letter ‘H’ makes an ‘n’ sound. With a working knowledge of Cyrillic, you can start sounding out some words (much as you used phonetics when learning to read and write as a child).
3. Build a basic vocabulary
Alongside familiarizing yourself with the Cyrillic alphabet, start learning some common words. You only need a few words to make your wishes understood or hold a simple conversation. With a few words under your belt, you can start listening to Russian language programs or reading Russian texts which, in turn, adds more words to your lexicon. Write new words down on flashcards (English on one side, Russian on the other). Practice them regularly, and when you get a word correct ten times, write the word in your notebook and ditch the flashcard. Before you know it, you’ll have your first 100 words securely mastered.
4. Grasp the grammar
To become fluent in any language there’s no escaping the grammar and Russian grammar is complex with different spelling and pronunciation rules for each case. However, when you learn Russian online with a native speaker, they’ll take you step-by-step through the grammar rules.
By breaking your grammar learning down into manageable chunks, you’ll be surprised by how quickly it becomes second nature. Follow the progression suggested by your Russian tutor and don’t move on to the next rule until you’ve fully understood the one you’re tackling. As you learn a new rule, reinforce it by writing out basic sentences and saying them aloud. By taking your time at this stage, you’ll give yourself a solid grammar foundation to build on.
5. Immerse yourself in Russian
Becoming immersed in a language is the quickest way of learning it. One way to do this is by watching Russian movies, TV shows, podcasts, YouTube videos, and so on as well as by reading Russian magazines, comics, and books. These are fun and painless ways of absorbing not only Russian grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation but the country’s culture as well. When planning your Russian learning timetable, allow time for these immersions into Russian. Download a Russian TV show to watch over breakfast, listen to a podcast in Russian on your way to work, or plan as many opportunities as you can to speak to your Russian tutor online. In the evenings, break out the popcorn and pick a Hollywood blockbuster that has been dubbed into Russian to watch or dip into Russia’s exciting cinematic history.
Having conversations with native speakers while they use their knowledge to teach you vocabulary and grammar rules is the best way to start your Russian language journey. At italki, we make it easy to find a native Russian teacher with the skills and experience to help you learn Russian easily. As you enjoy your 1-on-1 sessions, you’ll begin to tackle the complexities of Russian grammar while developing your confidence to speak fluently in all circumstances. Our Russian teachers are experts in tailoring classes to match your reason for learning Russian, whether this is personal or professional. They also effectively match their teaching style to your starting level, learning pace, and cultural interests. Along the way, they’ll provide the praise and morale boost needed to maintain your motivation and keep you learning. You’ll also find support from the italki community as well as interesting and informative articles on our blog. If you’re ready to start learning Russian, why not book your free trial lesson now?