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Learning a language like Russian is not just about expanding your career opportunities. It will also open you to a world of new connections and experiences. As the most widely spoken Slavic language, there are 160 million native Russian speakers, and it's one of the more commonly spoken languages in Eastern Europe. It is not, however, widely spoken by westerners which makes it highly marketable in businesses, academics, government, and social circles. Learning Russian can also help you understand other members of the Slavic language family spoken throughout Eastern Europe such as Polish, Czech, and Ukrainian. If you plan to travel to Russia, it's important to speak at least a little Russian because, unlike most parts of Europe, those who speak English are not as prevalent. Only 30% or about a third of Russians speak or understand English.
One of the daunting things for beginners looking to learn Russian is that, at first glance, it doesn't have many similarities with English. It does, however, have an alphabet called the Cyrillic alphabet. While the Cyrillic alphabet does have different characters than those you'll find in the English alphabet, once you learn them you can begin to bridge the gap between understanding and speaking Russian.
With over twenty-five years of experience helping language learners, Rosetta Stone understands how to build a program that can successfully tackle the complexities of a language like Russian. From introducing beginners to common conversational phrases in context to helping more advanced learners figure out verb conjugation, Rosetta Stone has built a Russian language-learning program that will help you learn Russian anytime, anywhere.
How to Learn the Russian Alphabet
Some learners worry about the difficulty of languages like Russian that involve unfamiliar characters and aren't built on an alphabet they recognize. However, unlike the hundreds or thousands of characters in writing systems like the Chinese, Russian has just 33 characters in the Cyrillic alphabet. Once you've mastered the structure of the characters, learning to match them with sounds isn't as difficult because many of those sounds mimic those from the English alphabet.
In fact, the Cyrillic alphabet may be one of the easiest parts of learning Russian because, unlike English, the pronunciations are remarkably consistent. Moreover, many of the sounds of the characters mirror those in English with shapes that resemble letters you'll recognize. You'll notice the A, M, E and even T in Russia's Cyrillic alphabet look pretty familiar, and the pronunciations aren't far off either. In Russian, the vowel A is pronounced "ah" as in the English word "mama."
Whether you're beginning learning Russian or reviewing the basics before advancing your Russian to the next level, Rosetta Stone can help. Our bite-sized lessons make it easy to practice vocabulary, get feedback on your pronunciation, and learn new phrases with an award-winning mobile app and language learning that syncs across all your devices.
Learning Russian Pronunciation
While there are some significant differences between Russian and English, there are also some similarities. Russian does have some cognates in common with English. Cognates are words that are related or have a shared origin. Russian words like му́зыка (music), аэропо́рт (airport), and Интерне́т (internet) look and sound similar in English.
Russian doesn't have many diacritic marks to guide pronunciation with the exception of the acute sign, which is used to show stress on the vowels. For instance, the word for castle (за́мок) and lock (замо́к) in Russian are spelled the same but are distinguished by the pronunciation of stress on the different vowel sounds. In one word the stress is on the first syllable of the vowel (за́мок), but in the other word, it is on the second (замо́к).
One of the most vital parts of learning a language is to be able to hold conversations. However, learning enough Russian to understand and be understood in the real world means not just acquiring vocabulary and learning about sentence structure, but perfecting your pronunciation. That's why Rosetta Stone has built a patented speech recognition engine called TruAccent® into every lesson. This engine compares your accent to that of other native Russian speakers, providing feedback and helping you improve your pronunciation as you learn the language.
The Best Way to Learn Russian Conversational Phrases
It's important to begin your language learning journey with common Russian phrases and greetings that are the building blocks of simple conversations. Rosetta Stone has a Russian language learning program built to teach conversational phrases in context, with audio and visual cues that support recall and provide a more holistic learning experience. You'll learn the common greetings and phrases you'll need for everyday situations first, such as transportation, shopping and eating out, before taking on more complicated language concepts.
Here are just a few of the things experts advise to help you accelerate your Russian language learning.
1. Learn Russian in context
Learning a language in context is a critical component of a successful language learning program because instead of learning rigid rules that have many exceptions you'll have to memorize and remember, you learn the most common Russian phrases and words the way they are used in the language and everyday speech. Rosetta Stone offers Russian language learning that is designed to build your confidence with speaking the language from your very first lesson rather than bogging you down with grammar rules or vocabulary lists up front.
2. Practice Russian gendered and plural nouns
Like other European languages, Russian does place importance on identifying the gender of people, objects, places, and other nouns. Russian has three genders: male, female, and neuter (neutral). In general, feminine nouns end in -А, -Я or -Ь while masculine nouns end in consonants. Neuter nouns generally end in -o or -e, although there are some exceptions like kó-fye, which is masculine. There are also different noun endings for singular versus plural nouns, but those are much more consistent. Nouns ending in -И and -Ы are almost always indications of plural nouns or groups of more than one.
3. Learn Russian cases
Similar to Latin, Russian has six cases that tell you something about the grammatical function of the word in the sentence. Here is a breakdown of the six cases and what each one implies:
- nominative case tells subject of a sentence (I wrote a letter)
- genitive case shows possession ( I wrote my letter)
- dative case identifies the indirect object (I wrote a letter to him)
- accusative case reflects the object of an action (I wrote a letter)
- instrumental case notes a tool or method used to do an action or make something I wrote a letter with a pen)
- prepositional case designates a noun that is an object of a preposition (I wrote a letter on the table.)
Once you've gotten the hang of these cases, you'll be able to have a more nuanced understanding of the Russian language and advance your learning to the next level.
4. Practice Russian daily
As with most languages, the key to learning Russian is to commit to making language learning part of your daily routine. Even if it's just a few minutes, a daily review of vocabulary and phrases and the chance to tackle a few new concepts can keep your language learning progressing steadily and your confidence soaring. Rosetta Stone helps make learning Russian convenient with bite-sized lessons that you can do on-the-go and access either via your mobile device or your desktop.
How to Learn Russian Fast
Everyone wants to learn a language and, unfortunately, they want to have mastered it yesterday. There are many websites that promise you can learn a language fast in just a few minutes a day. And while it might be true that you can memorize a few words and phrases, learning how to speak a language like Russian with confidence doesn't have any shortcuts. There are, however, a few ways you can accelerate or speed up your language learning. Here are some guidelines to follow that will make your endeavor to learn Russian happen sooner rather than later.
Learn Russian in context
Rather than trying to tackle static vocabulary lists in Russian or drilling on verb conjugation tables, you'll find that learning Russian words and phrases in context can accelerate your understanding and confidence in speaking the language. Rosetta Stone structures language learning into units organized by situations you might find in the real world, from ordering at a restaurant to greeting a cashier at the checkout. Accompanied by audio and visual cues, you'll find this immersive method enables language learners to get comfortable with speaking Russian even as a beginner.
Immerse yourself in Russian
If you're struggling to find ways to connect with the Russian language, there is actually quite a bit of Russian material online and a fascination with all things Russian in the media from the space station to taking a vacation. Russian podcasts and music abound but so do Russian videos on YouTube and other sites. In fact, after English and German, Russia is the third most popular language you'll find websites in even though there is a lower number of overall internet users who speak Russian.
Be persistent about learning Russian
Like any other language, how quickly you learn Russian is going to be a factor of the time you have to commit, your ability to incorporate daily practice into your routine, and the quality of your language learning program. Rosetta Stone makes fitting language learning into your daily commitments convenient with bite-sized lessons that sync across all your devices and let you make consistent daily progress on learning Russian.
Ways to Learn Russian
There are a few different roads you can take to learning Russian, but not all paths lead to speaking Russian with confidence. To determine which method is right for you, you'll need to carefully consider your budget, time commitment, and preferred method of learning. Optimally, you'll want an interactive language-learning program that is flexible, allowing you to learn Russian when and where you can.
Here are a few of the methods available to learn Russian and the potential drawbacks and advantages of each one.
Learn Russian online
There are websites and language apps that will help you acquire some vocabulary, but it'll be pretty tough to build confidence with Russian using free online materials. And often, these websites don't provide the ability to practice pronunciation. Most language learners benefit from more interactive programs that provide feedback and opportunities to interact with other language learners.
Russian Learning Language Programs
You can opt for a language learning program instead that provides the flexibility of learning online but has a more robust program that provides feedback and interaction. Rosetta Stone has a Russian program is built with precisely this in mind, providing bite-sized lessons that sync across devices, live tutoring sessions, and an online community that allows language learners to connect and chat.
Take classes in Russian
Paying to take a course in Russian is always an option, but typically structured classroom experiences can be expensive and time-consuming and, often, you're at the mercy of the chance that you'll have a good instructor. For many adult language learners, taking a traditional course in Russian isn't a feasible option either because of finances, location, schedule, or other commitments.
Find another Russian speaker to practice with
While this isn't exactly a way to learn Russian, interacting with other speakers can help accelerate your learning by giving you a way to practice and build your confidence. However, finding others who speak Russian locally may be tricky depending on your location. Rosetta Stone can help you surmount this geographic obstacle with live tutoring and an online community of language learners, where you can connect and chat with someone who is also learning to speak Russian.