So what’s involved if you want to learn Russian… and is it really that hard? Lots of people would say Russian is as difficult as hell or double dutch or whatever – don’t believe that. There are a number of things to keep in mind if you decide to take up learning Russian and they may help you realise it is not that tough as it is painted!

  • Russian is an Indo-European language, distantly related to English. This means that some of the basic vocabulary will seem quite familiar.
  • To learn the basics of Russian is probably not much harder than learning the basics of, say, French or German.
  • Although it is hard to get an authentic Russian accent, it is not that hard to pronounce Russian words tolerably well; most of the sounds of Russian also occur in English.
  • Russian has borrowed a lot of English or other “international” words; many words will be familiar and easy to learn. If you want to say “climate” or “match” or “park” in Russian, just take the English word and give it a Russian flavour!
  • The Russian alphabet (Cyrillic) may look off-putting, but in fact it is not difficult to learn; you can get the basic idea in an hour. Some of the letters, like “a”, “k”, “m” and “o”, are the same as in English. And the alphabet works well for the Russian language: you can predict which sound each letter will represent very accurately.
  • At a higher level, Russian grammar is tricky: there are a lot of case endings on nouns and adjectives, and the verb forms are also complex. Learning the vocabulary can take quite a bit of effort as well. But then you may not be aspiring to read “War and Peace” in the original!

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