Russian is the most widely-spoken East Slavic language and also the most-spoken Slavic language overall. Although the Russian people are incredibly diverse, belonging to 160 different ethnic groups that speak 100 different languages, many of them also speak Russian. Millions of people in Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Ukraine, Latvia, Moldova, Estonia, Georgia and Armenia also speak the language, making Russian the lingua franca of much of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Russian is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to learn the Slavic language with the biggest reach and influence. Read the guide below, and then test your skills with a free Russian lesson.

Russian Pronunciation and Grammar

English is a Germanic/Romance hybrid (Germanic roots with Norse, French and Latin influence). Russian, however, is an East Slavic language and has very little in common with English. For beginners trying to learn Russian, correctly pronouncing words can be a significant challenge. Russian has vocal sounds that don’t exist in English, with a greater variety of vowels and a subtle gradient of different sh sounds. With the help of Babbel’s speech recognition feature, however, you'll be able to practice your accent and help ensure that your Russian is accurate.

Russian grammar may at first seem strange to an English speaker, but its rules are actually straightforward. Russian had six cases, which means that nouns, adjectives and pronouns can have six different endings. This may sound complicated, but because so much information is conveyed in the nouns, word order is not as strict as it is in English and you have no articles to memorize (compare that to having to memorize whether each German noun is either der, die, or das). Verb conjugation is very different from English, but far less irregular.

Best Ways to Speak Russian

There are several options available when learning how to speak Russian: hiring a private tutor, enrolling in a language course (in school or online), studying alone, joining an exchange program, or practicing conversational Russian with a native speaker (a so-called tandem partner). All of these strategies can be effective, though some can be expensive, while classes and exchange programs are also a huge time commitment. The fastest way to pick up Russian — and the biggest commitment by far — is still immersion. Moving to Russia requires you to pick up the language in order to live day-to-day. This survival pressure usually produces fluency within a few months, but not without a lot of stress and hard work. If you do plan to immerse yourself in Russian, it’s a very good idea to prepare beforehand with one of the methods mentioned above. If you don’t have much spare time, an online program like Babbel may be your best bet.

Speak Russian the Babbel way

Babbel’s Russian course is affordable, accessible, and proven to strengthen your reading, listening, speaking and comprehension skills. As a Babbel user, you have access to a diverse program of exercises covering grammar, conjugation, pronunciation, listening comprehension and writing. Our Review Manager also helps ensure that you don’t forget what you learn. So whether you're too busy for a language class, a complete beginner, needing to brush up before a vacation or business trip, or wanting to relearn everything you've forgotten since high school, Babbel can be customized to your needs.

Try your first Russian lesson for free and discover Babbel’s easy and intuitive course system, which determines your individual level and accommodates different learning styles. You can learn at your own pace, set your own lesson plans, and receive helpful hints whenever you need them.

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