As of 2018, there were about 164 million native Russian speakers, making it the 8th most spoken language in the world. Learning Russian is no easy feat because its alphabets are different from what you’re used to. Besides the Cyrillic alphabet, you also have to adapt to a downright exotic accent, so you don’t sound ridiculous when speaking Russian.
That said, you don’t have to be a linguistic genius to learn Russian fast and effectively. Learning how to speak Russian can be a breeze with the right tips. Couple these pro tips with the right attitude and determination, and you’ll be speaking like a Russian native in no time.
In this post, we’ll be highlighting a few tips to help you learn how to speak and write Russian the right way.
1. Know the Alphabet
If you want to learn Russian, you have to transition from the Latin alphabet to the Cyrillic alphabet. This will be by no means easy, but you’ll get the hang of things with time. Mastering the alphabet is the best way to start your Russian speaking journey.
Thankfully, as strange as it looks, the Cyrillic alphabet isn’t that different from the Latin one. You might have noticed that even some letters look the same. That’s because they are, in essence, the same letters.
Unlike the Latin alphabet, the Cyrillic one comprises thirty-three letters. That’s seven more than the Latin alphabet. That means you only have seven new characters to learn, and the rest are just like your usual alphabets.
All there is to the Russian alphabet is learning to readjust to the new shapes and how they associate with new sounds.
2. Master the Hard and Soft Consonants
Just like English, Russian has a lot of consonants. All the consonants in Russian branch into two; hard and soft consonants. Hard consonants get their name because they make deeper sounds than soft consonants.
It might take awhile before you get the hang of pronouncing both hard and soft consonants. However, learning how to differentiate the two should come after learning the alphabet. Don’t worry if it sounds a bit unnatural; you’ll get used to it soon enough.
3. Learn How to Stress Your Vowels
After the consonants, in comes the vowels. Russian vowels are pretty dynamic, for lack of a better word. The vowels love to shift resonance sometimes drastically and sometimes smoothly. Some words may have a brief [i] sound before transitioning to a sharp [e].
Aside from the sharp changes in vowels, there’s also a difference between stressed and unstressed vowels. Stressed vowels are more elongated when articulated hence the ‘stressed’ tag. Unstressed vowels are brief and may sometimes seem lifeless.
One peculiar thing about Russian vowels is that [a] is pronounced as [o] and vice-versa. However, this isn’t always the case; how you pronounce [o], depends on whether it’s stressed. It’s seemingly confusing, but once you get used to it, it becomes next to nature.
4. Find a Native Partner to Speak to
The best way to learn Russian is by practicing it with an actual person who speaks Russian. You don’t even have to meet face to face. You can go online and look for a native Russian speaker on social media or even Russian teaching forums.
If you can find a university student, then you’ll have hit the jackpot. At least, you can teach a little English while you learn a heap of Russian. If you’re in a Russian speaking country, then finding a native partner is a piece of cake.
While learning the language, it’s also a great idea to learn a bit about Russian culture. Who knows? Doing so might actually help you learn and speak better Russian.
5. Listen to Russian Music and Watch Russian Movies
If you don’t want your learning experience to be boring, watch Russian movies and listen to Russian music. Russian films are especially exciting, and you can learn a lot by watching two or three movies every week.
You’ll probably find most of them have English subtitles so you can keep track of the movie. Although it sounds weird, you should watch these movies with a notebook and pen. That way, you can note down any new words that you hear.
There’s no shortage of Russian movies online. So, your only task is finding the right music that matches your musical taste. Far From Moscow is an excellent site where you can find tons of Russian music from different genres. You can stream your favorite Russian tunes or download them straight to your computer.
Don’t worry; the site is in English so you can make your way around it. However, for a real challenge, you can switch the site to Russian. Of course, you can always watch MTV Russia or Ukraine for the same purpose.
6. Use Russian Translation Service
Russian translation services are what your business or organization needs to expand into Russian speaking regions. All they are is a team of Russian natives meant to help your company or organization adapt to the culture. In this case, you’ll be trying to penetrate the markets in Russia or Ukraine.
While these services will be doing all the talking, you’ll learn a great deal by interacting with the staff. This is ideal if you own a business and need Russian translation to interact with other business partners. This means you don’t have to learn Russian completely to make business transactions.
However, these services go a long way in helping you learn Russian. Plus, you’ll have an entire team of native Russian speakers at your disposal.
Apply These Tips to Start Learning How to Speak Russian
Learning how to speak Russian shouldn’t be a stressful and nerve-wracking experience. With the above tips, learning Russian should be fun and exciting. Plus, if you really put your mind to it, you’ll be a fluent Russian speaker in no time.
Learning Russian is very exciting, especially if you’re making significant progress every day. If you aren’t, take a breather, and check out other enticing pieces on the site.