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I've been learning to speak Russian

Updated on December 8, 2012

It used to take me 45 minutes each way to drive to and from work every day. So I decided about a year ago that instead of listening to the radio play the same ten songs over and over again I would do something more constructive with my time.

Instead of going for one of the average every day languages that Americans tend to learn, Spanish, German, French, I decided to take on a tougher language, but not something too difficult like Japanese. Nope, I think Russian is the best level of difficulty that I can handle without throwing in the towel. So that's what I've been doing and it's not too bad of a language to learn just as long as you don't run into anybody who actually speaks the language.

I occasionally hear a Russian mom talking to her child at the store, or whenever I visit the zoo there always seems to be some Russians there. But for the most part I am hardly exposed to the language in my every day life, which is unfortunate because the best way to learn a language is by constant saturation.

Learn the alphabet

This is the first thing that I think a person should start with when learning a language. It took me only a couple of weeks to memorize the Cyrillic alphabet, the hardest parts are knowing how to place emphasis on the soft and hard signs in a word.

Other than that It can also be difficult to know exactly when the letter "O" is used as an "ah" sound, or as an "oh", because it seems to randomly change in different situations. Also the letter "G" sometimes sounds like a "V" to me. Other than that the rest of the rules seem to be consistent or perhaps I'm simply a slow learner.


There are a few places on the internet that give away a lot of information for free. I prefer to learn the free stuff before I think about spending a bunch of money on something like Rosetta stone, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

Live Mocha is a good place that has several learning units that will keep you busy building good sentence structure. There is a free library edition that you can use through your local library.

Some libraries also provide free services for Mango languages, which will teach you a first 100 short conversations that would be common in any language.

Another sight I have found is, which has several levels of learning and has interactive learning units as does "livemocha". A small portion of this program you must pay for, but most of it is free to the public.

Applying it to my daily life

You might find it helpful to read from a book you enjoy. I like to read the book of Mormon in Russian. I use some of my spare time to memorize a few of the notable passages written in it. Since I read from scriptures on a weekly basis at a minimum it helps to keep myself fluid in studying. This way I can make a habit out of learning the language since I go to church habitually.

You can apply this to what ever religious writings you prefer, proverbs, biblical sayings, or perhaps some philosophical or political quotes you may like. I would prefer that people in other countries know that I'm not completely without substance when i speak to them.

I also like to do little things like answering the phone in various Russian greetings. Sometimes people hang up on me when they hear me speaking in a different language but most people who know me know that I'm learning Russian, so if they hang up it's probably a telemarketer.

I usually bump into a Russian person when I'm visiting the Zoo, so whenever I go there I like to bring a lesson with me that correlates with learning the names of zoo animals. Then I can strike up a conversation with someone about the animals.

I've always thought it would be cool to learn a different language but it can be difficult to retain the information I have learned, so it is important to find a way to use some Russian words on a daily basis even if it's only a few.


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    • Onusonus profile image

      Onusonus 4 years ago from washington

      Thanks for the props Paul! Interestingly the Navy recently sent me to a Japanese cultural class. I'll probably never get sent there though.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


      I applaud you for your efforts in learning Russian. Hopefully, one day you will be able to travel to Russia and immerse yourself in the language. Years ago when I was in the Navy, I had the opportunity to learn either Chinese Mandarin or Russian. I had no preference at the time, so the Navy sent me to Monterey for Chinese training. It was a turning point in my life. Good luck in learning Russian. Voted up as interesting and sharing.

    • Onusonus profile image

      Onusonus 4 years ago from washington

      Yeah, plus I already got a cool Russian style Santa ornament for the tree, so it's pretty much set in stone for me.

    • Philanthropy2012 profile image

      DK 4 years ago from London

      Ah well that makes perfect sense (: the culture really is something else and incredibly rich!

    • Onusonus profile image

      Onusonus 4 years ago from washington

      Philanthropy, I heard that Japanese was fairly easy, but the fact that there are three different alphabets is mind boggling. And they mix them all together in a sentence.

      My work would be more likely to send me there, but I'm more interested in Russian culture. Plus I'm part Russian and like to do family history research.

      I'll have to check out your hub. Thanks for reading.

    • Philanthropy2012 profile image

      DK 4 years ago from London

      Hey! Being a fluent Russian speaker (you may find my grammar hub of importance) and an in-training Japanese speaker I'd like to congratulate you on this hub (as well as the decision to learn a language instead of listen to the radio - 100pts for productivity!) and also input that I wouldn't say Russian is much easier than Japanese at all!

      The Japanese are much more simple in their grammar - what's difficult is the sheer bulk of memorising you need to do that isn't as bad in Russian.

      Both are very difficult in terms of using it in an everyday manor however. There's learning a language in theory and there's learning the language practically!

      Ganbatte and udacha!