160 million people speak Russian as their native language, and 120 million speak it as their second. 280 million total speakers make it the seventh most spoken language in the world. Russian is a Slavic language which shares roots with Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, Belarusian and Bulgarian. The Slavic languages are a sub-group of Indo-European languages, but linguistically are quite different from other subgroups like Romance and Germanic languages.
Why Learn Another Language?
As an English speaker in America, it's incredibly easy to avoid ever having to communicate in another language. However, those of us who do take up the challenge will hold a certain advantage when it comes to our ability to communicate and connect with people. There are few skills in life that can help you to develop both personally and professionally quite as well as a second language. From the increased social confidence it provides, to making friends in other countries, to accessing a broader network of professional contacts, to the personal sense of achievement and growth, a second language opens new doors in your life.
Speaking Russian as a Second Language
Learning to speak Russian offers many advantages, whether you want to connect to your roots, travel or live in Eastern Europe, or to take part in one of the world’s biggest economies. It is also the language of exceptional poetry and literature, and it will give you a deeper and richer understanding of Western culture.
The continent-spanning nation may not be as close as Spanish-speaking Latin America (unless you’re in Alaska), but the benefit of learning another language is not affected by geography like it used to be. Technology has made it possible for two individuals anywhere in the world to connect in a multitude of ways. Factor in the increasingly international outlook of governments, multinational corporations and even small businesses, and you can start to see how the non-English-speaking world is now more relevant than ever.
Knowing a second language allows you to take advantage of opportunities in the globalizing world. English may be the de facto language of international business, but it doesn’t compare to being able to speak to colleagues, contacts and potential future partners in their own language. Once you have learned to speak Russian, you will have a skill that will make you more appealing to employers, but also better able to strike out on your own as a small business owner or entrepreneur.
Connect with Russian Culture
There has never been a better time to begin learning Russian. The vibrancy of Russian life reflects a nation emerging from its own past. Because Russian is spoken widely in bordering countries and other Slavic nations, it a useful lingua franca throughout Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
Russia is also becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination because of its seemingly endless virgin wilderness, southern beach and ski resorts, and world cities that are bursting with cultural attractions.
Closer to home, over 3 million Americans claim Russian ancestry, but less than a third of the Russian-American community speak Russian at home. There is an increasing interest among the rest to reconnect to their Russian roots, especially in cities like New York where the Russian-American population is large and cultural ties to Russia are still strong.
Learn Russian with Babbel
Babbel is the most intuitive, affordable and effective language learning method available online. Lessons help you listen, speak, read and write Russian with content that is relevant and useful. Babbel adapts to your pace and learning style, listens to you speak and helps correct your pronunciation. Access your Russian courses from any computer with an internet connection to pick up wherever you left off and continue to review everything you've learned – even after your subscription ends. As a member of the Babbel community, you can also connect with other learners and native speakers so you can always find someone to practice your Russian with – no matter where in the world you may be.