How to Become Fluent in Russian
Peter & Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg
Why should you learn Russian?
Against the background of Russia’s extraordinary growth in the last few years, the Eurasian country has become an interesting business investment opportunity for businesses aiming at expanding to Russia and Russian-speaking countries. Russia’s economy has been growing significantly and even more rapidly than the other G7 countries since 1998 and has additionally recuperated more rapidly from the global financial crisis. Nevertheless, there are some very deep structural problems that Russia is facing and the current economic model is not going to maintain an economic growth of 4% in the coming years. However, considering that Russia has been developing substantially well the last 14 years in comparison to the strongest world economies, it remains in interesting market, offers growth potential and if overcoming its structural problems will demonstrate significant growth rates in the future.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia building
Some interesting facts about the Russian language
- There are 250 million speakers of Russian in Europe and Asia
- Russian is a Slavic language and knowing Russian enables you to learn other Slavic languages such as Bulgarian, Polish, Czech etc.
- Russian is one of the working languages of international Institutions
- Russian is a G8-member
- There are 6 million speakers of Russian in the US
- The Russian language utilizes the Cyrillic alphabet
- Russian is one of the Indo-European languages and is thus related to Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and the Germanic, Romance and Celtic languages.
- Like many other languages, Russian is greatly influenced by the use of English as the international language. In the scientific, technological and political area, many words derived from English are used.
- Russian is one of the official UN languages
Coast of Baltic sea in Svetlogorsk, Russia
How and where to learn Russian
Nowadays, there are many language sources you can find online without having to go to a language school and lose some of your valuable time. Learning a language online is not only more convenient but also cheaper as you don’t have to spend money for fuel, snacks or drinks on the way to school or expensive books.
The BBC website offers a useful guide to the Russian language for those interesting in learning some useful phrases for travel purposes. This website does not yet provide you with deep knowledge of the Russian language but is rather aimed at those wanting to do a crash course before their stay in Russia or their contact with the Russian language in a business or private environment. On the website, you can learn the Russian alphabet, download useful Russian phrases as an mp3 format or determine the plot of a Russian soap opera by guessing the meaning of specific Russian phrases.
ON this website you can find vocabulary exercises, listening comprehension activitiers grammar lessons and mini quizzes. You will learn how to introduce yourself, say hello, count, give irections, meet people and talk about hobbies and activities. This website is ideal for those wanting to listen to native people speak Russian as it offers plenty of audio material.
This website is great for those wanting to dive deep into the Russian language and its grammar and syntactical structures. It provides verb tables with the past, present and future tenses of the major Russian verbs, a guide to pronunciation with the appropriate audio files, Russian videos for all language levels, Russian vocabulary, grammar and culture tests for those wanting to test their level and much more.
E-language school gives you an overview of the Russian grammar, teaches you words and phrases and provides videos in the Russian language, does not allow you to dive deep into the language, however, or do any exercises.
If you prefer to learn with Russian textbooks, you should take a look at the Russian E-library provided by the Moscow State University. The library shows a collection of text books for beginners, intermediate and advanced students. You can download these books as a pdf file and save money as well as time with immediate access to the books.
Online courses with real native Russian teachers
The best and most effective way to learn Russian as a foreign language is by taking live classes with a native teacher. These can be conducted via Skype or an online virtual conference room. This depends on the company you decide to purchase lessons from and their system. Skype is usually a very reliable software, provided that you have a relatively fast internet speed (a download speed of 1000kb and an upload speed of 400kb should work fine). Moscow State University also offers an online Russian course which is conducted via Skype. There is also a free trial lesson offered to all students interested in attempting this learning method. Classes are 50 minutes long and the study materials are provided by the teachers. Homework is given after each lesson and you will receive the Certificate of the Russian Language Center of MGU at the end of the course. Different learning packages are offered and lessons can be as cheap as 12 euros.
VerbalPlanet is a website where you can find native Russian teachers with many years of teaching experience and knowledge of other languages. You might even be able to find a Russian teacher who knows your native language which could facilitate the learning process if you are a beginner. Others prefer to choose a teacher who does not dominate their native language as this gives them the opportunity to learn in an environment very similar to the one they would encounter in the country itself.
Last but not least, Livemocha is an extremely versatile online language learning website that offers interactive courses and live lessons with native teachers. It gives you a firm grammar basis, teaches you essential vocabulary items in different areas and gives you the opportunity to interact with native Russian speakers from all over the world.
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10 More Useful Tips on How to Become Fluent in Russian
No matter which learning method you choose, you have to stick to some basic rules in order to become fluent in the language.
1. Work on all four primary language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
2. Study regularly, preferably 5-7 times a week, even if it is only 15 minutes. But it is better to learn 15 minutes every day, than 2 hours on one day per week. You can accelerate your learning process and see better results faster.
3. Use different high-quality sources instead of a one single source. Some of the best sources are mentioned above.
5. Repetition is the key to your learning success. Repeat as much as possible before moving on to another topic. Make sure you are really familiar with the topic before you continue.
6. Write Russian texts and correct them with your tutor/teacher
7. Plan a trip to a Russian-speaking country and talk to the natives
8. Make flash cards with useful phrases and vocabulary and take the flash cards to your office or put them on your night stand. You can also find other opportunities to study the vocabulary on the flash cards. Find the most convenient one for you.
9. Talk to Russian speakers on MyLanguageExchange: You can talk to people from all over the world and write emails with them or talk to them on Skype. They can teach you slang and colloquialism that you will not learn in a classical language course.
10. Be patient and work hard: If you want to become fluent in any language, you will probably need to invest a couple of years’ time and make significant efforts. You cannot expect to become fluent overnight despite many courses who promise this to you in order to sell. Patience and hard work, however, are the key to success and will eventually get you to speak Russian fluently.