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25 Tips for Native English Speakers to Learn Russian

Updated on May 28, 2017

Not a Russian

American Acccent

As an American with very little access to native Russian speaking people, I have done a lot of research on how to best learn to speak Russian. Even though I am a Russian minor with the added benefit of attending university, my fluency was still lacking because I wasn't able to immerse myself in the language as most linguists recommend. Because I was unable to learn Russian in a natural way, I was forced to seek out the best tactics available to me.

Doing the research and footwork provided me with the ability to help other people in my position. The most difficult thing about learning a new language is not having other people around to constantly help you, as you would if you were living in a foreign environment. Of course, if you have the option to travel to Russia, you should absolutely go. But in the meantime, for those who want to learn and do not have the ability to travel right now, here are some things that help me.

Why Russian?

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Tip Me!

People often neglect areas of study, because it's easier to only exercise one facet of learning. It's very counterproductive to study in a way that won't help you to learn the information, because it's just time wasted. Ten minutes of studying properly will be more effective than 40 spent studying incorrectly.

That being said, make sure you:

  1. Orally repeat the words. This exercises your tongue's memory and allows you to hear the words. Many times the words sound differently in our heads than when we say them out loud.
  2. Write the words, as you say them. This helps you to remember each shape of the word.
  3. Think of pictures, or funny ideas to help you associate the words with something relevant to you.
  4. Utilize all of your tools––internet, phone apps, multiple books, and other people.
  5. Constantly change up your technique. This prevents boredom, and helps you really want to learn the information.
  6. Love the language and culture. It will make you more excited about studying.
  7. Work on grammar, before learning a bunch of vocabulary. Often the same word is spelled many different way because of conjugation. If you don't know why the word is changing, you won't use it or remember is properly and it will confuse you.
  8. Study the list of 1000 most commonly used Russian words, and begin trying to use them.
  9. Rely on context clues and try to figure out words that you don't know.
  10. Listen to Russian music, and watch Russian videos, even when you don't know what is being said. Hearing the language will help you speak it.
  11. Practice as often as possible, and don't neglect your studies.
  12. Talk to your friends and family, even if they don't know what you are saying. It will help build confidence in speaking the language.
  13. Skype with native speaking Russians. They usually aren't shy about correcting your Russian language, and they are generally very helpful.
  14. Try using new words even if you cannot say them in a fully Russian sentence. It will help you learn the words by saying something like, " I люблю you". Then you will remember the word for love as it applies to you.
  15. Quiz yourself often. Even if you hate taking tests and think you will be okay without them.
  16. Review often. Just because you have learned a word, doesn't mean that it will stick, unless you review it often.
  17. Read the Russian word and know what it means, then read the English word and translate it into Russian. For example, ask yourself, "What is the Russian word for 'love'?" This will help you access the words you need.
  18. Play games with yourself, and sing little songs.
  19. Learn to sing Russian songs. It helps you string sentences and remember words. It also helps you become more culturally aware.
  20. Take 'tours' of Russia. You can use Google Maps to 'walk' along the streets of Moscow. Seeing what the people are wearing and what the advertisements look like will be a fun little adventure to put it all together for you.
  21. Relax. If you need a break, even if it is several days––take it. You need to love learning Russian, or it will be unnecessarily difficult for you.
  22. Stay up to date with Russian words and sentences. Languages change, so make sure you're using the most recent verbiage.
  23. Take advantage of life's little intervals, and practice when you have a moment free. That means, listening to Russian music or vocabulary on the way to work in the morning. Or leave one of your Russian books in the bathroom.
  24. Label all of the things in your house. This will provide visual reference for items that apply to you.
  25. And one more time, review, review, review. You WILL forget what you spent a long time learning. Constantly reviewing will help it become second nature.



Top 3 Helpful Language Learning Websites

  1. italki: Learn a language online You can find language exchange partners, practice speaking a foreign language, ask questions, find free online language resources, and get help from an international community.
  1. Most Common Russian Words - Top 1000 Russian words

    Frequency list of 1000 most common words in Russian. Includes top Russian words with English translations. Learn most used nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives and other vocabulary words

  2. Learning, powered by imagination. - Memrise

    The Memrise community uses images and science to make learning easy and fun. Learn a language. Learn anything.


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