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Russia is a huge country – actually the biggest country in the world by area and has a full 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the Kremlin to the Golden Mountains of Altai — there is an immense cultural and ecological wealth to be found in Russia.

 

Russia is a big country. Is it all covered by one language?

 

Only about 5% of Russians speak English, and in most Russian cities, you’ll find almost no signs written in English so if you want to learn, it’s definitely worth tackling the Cyrillic alphabet that covers most areas and learn some phrases to communicate on any travels you may have.

 

Russian is one of the world’s most spoken languages and is spoken in countries like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. It’s even spoken in Israel.

 

How difficult is Russian to learn?

 

Russian is one of the most difficult languages to learn and has a complex grammatical structure with the Cyrillic alphabet, but it is actually easier than you think. There are two challenges to learning Russian – grammatical rules – the declensions and the perfective and imperfective forms of the verbs. The Cyrillic alphabet is easy in comparison. Most of the shapes of letters are the same or similar, so you’ll simply need to readjust how your brain sees letters with certain phonetics.

 

This Slavic language has an astounding wealth of consonants, creating a captivating musical quality and where most people find languages with a rich variety of vowels appealing – Italian has the vowels A, E, I, O, U and characteristic diphthongs which is one reason why Italian sounds melodic to foreigners – Russian is the same.

What are the advantages of learning Russian?

 

When you start to learn Russian, a whole range of other languages opens up to you. Russian is a member of the Indo-European language family, specifically the Slavic family. Even with just a beginner’s grasp, you can quickly understand the other Slavic languages. The three subfamilies are:

 

  • The East Slavic languages, which all use the Cyrillic alphabet (Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian)
  • The South Slavic languages, which either use the Cyrillic (Bulgarian, Macedonian) or Latin (Croatian, Slovenian) alphabets
  • The West Slavic languages, which use a modified Latin alphabet (Czech, Polish, Slovak)

 

To some, given the history of communism, Stalin, and the Cold War, Russia is seen as a threat but when you learn Russian, your worldview changes because you’ve acquired a new language and because it breaks down your preconceptions about a fascinating part of the world. Also, the Russian people are ready to integrate worldwide.

 

So, while Russian is less popular as a second language than Mandarin for example (another language that is even more difficult for English speakers to grasp) this is a shame because many economic opportunities are arising in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, especially in the world of culture. Listen to the Red Army Ensemble, embrace the challenge, and go forth!

 

Удачи!

 

Udachi!