Learn Russian: why learn Russian?
Spoken across the Russian Federation and Belarus, as well as in many countries of the former Soviet Union, Russian is in use across a larger geographical area than any other European language. It is also the second most widely used language on the internet, after English, and has over a thousand years of history behind it. Making the effort to learn Russian can unlock a huge and significant part of the world’s culture, allowing not only conversation with Russian speakers, but a greater understanding of Russian art and literature. The end of the Cold War has brought new opportunities for trade in eastern Europe, so company owners and employees who speak Russian, or are prepared to take Russian lessons, are often better placed to develop their business or career.
Russian and English
Like English, Russian is part of the Indo-European family of languages, although Russian is part of the Slavic branch, while English is in the Germanic group. The most obvious difference between the two languages is that Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but there are also several key differences between Russian and English grammar. In English, the meaning of a sentence is conveyed by word order, while in Russian, the words in the sentence are modified by using a different inflection, or by adding a suffix or prefix. It is also hard to predict which syllable of a Russian word is stressed, so this has to be learned by listening and practising.
Russian is perceived by many English speakers as a difficult language to learn, mainly due to the Cyrillic alphabet. However, many of the letters in the Cyrillic alphabet are pronounced similarly to their equivalent in English, and the characters can even look similar. Russian spelling is largely phonetic, so there are fewer differences between spelling and pronunciation than in English.
Ways of learning
The best way to learn Russian depends on the individual, since different learning methods suit different people. People who learn best by reading and memorising might prefer to study alone using textbooks, although they may then struggle with pronunciation. Some maintain that the most effective way to learn is to visit the country and immerse yourself in the language, while others find the idea daunting. Hearing and repeating is a popular method, and MP3s mean you can take your Russian lessons with you wherever you go. This style of learning works well for the spoken language, but won’t help with the Cyrillic alphabet. Some people find Russian lessons from a tutor, either individually or as part of a group, is the option that suits them. Private tuition can be expensive, however, while classes may not run at a convenient time.
The Babbel method
The internet has added many new ways of learning to the tried and trusted methods. Babbel’s interactive, multimedia online courses are designed to fit individual learning requirements, as well as fitting around an individual lifestyle. The Babbel app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows devices, and progress is saved to the cloud, so you can study anywhere, then pick up on your desktop where you left off on your phone. Reading, writing, listening and speaking are all covered in Babbel’s Russian lessons, with voice recognition to correct and improve pronunciation. Focus on the areas that interest you, whether that’s business or leisure, and learn Russian using a course that is both intuitive and enjoyable.