Russian for Beginners

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Russian for Beginners

Learning Russian can certainly be a challenge. It means internalizing a new alphabet, vocabulary, grammar and syntax, not to mention new sounds for your mouth to get used to. That might sound intimidating, but learning any language seems scary if you try to take it all in at once. The key to learning a language, especially when you are a beginner, is to break the learning process down into a series of small, manageable steps. Setting the right pace for yourself and staying motivated make the process much easier.

Getting to Basecamp

Think of it as climbing to a mountaintop: scaling the sheer cliff face will indeed be very challenging, but the comfortable and meandering hiking trail will also get you to the top. As a beginner, your first goal isn’t the summit, but the first base camp. Don’t worry about fluency for the time being. The beginner level is about absorbing the basics, like the Russian alphabet and simple words and phrases, so that you have the tools you need for the rest of the climb. Each and every step that gets you closer to the top is an accomplishment to be celebrated. Learning another language is a serious commitment, but if you approach it step-by-step, it’s also fun and rewarding.

Russian Icons

Why Learn Russian?

Of the hundreds of mountains one could climb, what’s waiting at the top of the frozen and majestic peak of Mount Ruskie? First of all, with 180 million native speakers and 260 million total speakers, it is the seventh most spoken language on Earth and is the lingua franca of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. This opens up a huge swath of the globe for you to experience: from Saint Petersburg on the Baltic, to the Caspian Sea in the south, to Vladivostok on the Sea of Japan.

Russian is also the second most used language on the internet. Even if you never go to Russia, understanding the language will almost double your online world. This can be very lucrative for people in e-commerce looking to expand their online presence and reach more customers. If the stars are your destination, Russian is crucial for astronaut/cosmonaut collaboration; NASA requires all its astronauts to speak Russian.

The Russian Alphabet

The first step in your journey toward the summit of Mount Ruskie is a stroll through the foothills: learning the Russian alphabet. The alphabet uses Cyrillic script, which developed from ancient Greek, but has hints of Latin influence here and there as well.

The following letters are exactly the same in Russian and English

А, О, К, М, С, Т

These letters look like Latin letters, but have different sounds

У, Е, Ё, Н, Х, В, Р, Я, И, Й

The following are completely Greek-derived letters

Some of these letters will look familiar to anyone who remembers math class or, through the veil of inebriation, their fraternity or sorority days: Г, Ш, Ф, П, Л, Д, Э, Б, Ю

And then there are a few outliers that only occur in Cyrillic

Ж, Ц, Б, Ч, Щ, Ы, Ь, З

Russian Cyrillic Alphabet

Learn Russian With Babbel

The best way to learn the Russian alphabet, and then to start accumulating words and sentences once you can read Russian, is through a multimedia approach that let’s you listen to the sounds of words as you read them. Because it integrates reading, listening, speaking and writing, Babbel’s online courses are the ideal learning experience for beginners. Step-by-step, we take you through the basics while you control the pace at which you learn, what to review and which themes and topics are relevant to you. Most lessons take ten minutes or less so it’s easy to find time to fit language learning into a busy schedule.

Upgrade to the Bilingual Life

Early on, learning Russian is about internalizing rules, but ultimately speaking Russian is more about getting into a certain mindset. Connecting words and concepts to the way they sound and the way they feel in your mouth is crucial to fluency. Speaking Russian with the ease and confidence of a native-speaker is like skipping stones on water. Once you know the rules you can stop thinking about them and just express the rules with your body and mind in harmonious concert. Developing a natural feel for the language will build your confidence and make the process more meaningful and useful. Learn Russian now and upgrade your life.

Russian Church