Guys I am super excited to announce my new challenge called “Learn Russian From Beginner to Fluent in 6 months”. It is something I always wanted and finally decided it was time to actually complete this challenge.

It will help my life very much since Learning Russian is so close to home as I am Romanian so we borrowed a lot of words from them (during the wonderful occupation 🙂 )

Why Learn Russian in the first place?

For those who don’t know a lot about the language this is how you say Hello(informal) in Russian : “привет

If you don’t know how to read it no problem (I also didn’t know azbuka = russian alphabet).

It is one of the first things you will learn no matter if you have a manual (book) or online pdf form a course. You need it in order to jump-start your RU reading career 🙂

Russian alphabet (azbuka)

You like what you see? So many characters and signs.. Oh god.

It is actually very easy to learn them. majority are already in English so you have to deal just with the weird ones.

How hard is to learn Russian now that you decided to do it?

Russian Language is considered (in average) to be in category 2/3 that means 44 weeks or 1100 hours , that is aprox 10 months.

So it is not impossible but you need some dedication and a good schedule.

Now you may want to know the answer to the question :

“How many words do I need to know for russian fluency?”

There are Four levels of achievement in the acquisition of Russian according to the Russian Universities.

  • Elementary with a vocabulary of 750 words
  • Basic: 1300 words
  • Level 1 Intermediate: 2300 words
  • Level 2 Advanced: 10000 words
  • Lvl 3 Proficient: 12000 words (with 7000 active)
  • Level 4 Fluency with 20,000 words (8000 active).

Well to be honest there are six levels but the last two are around 40-50k words which a few people actually get to. So for a foreigner Level 4 should be (more than) enough.

Here are some facts about the language that may interest you or anyway are good to know before you venture spending a lot of time learning. It will help you learn russian for sure.

  • Russian language is the 5th spoken language in the world (yes not only russians speak Russian :))
  • Some English words have Russian origin ( bolshevik, cosmonaut, mammoth, pogrom, samovar, sputnik, taiga, tsar and vodka )
  • In space you can speak just Russian and English 🙂
  • Russian has approximately 500,000 words but only 2,500 are used frequently
  • Longest Russian word has 38 letters (some long ex. Интернационализирующимися )

OK you convinced me. Where do I begin?

There are a few ways to tackle this: one is to take vacation (paid or unpaid) and go to Moscow, live there and join a proper institution like MGU Russian

They say you will learn Russian with teachers from Moscow State University.. that is a really good way to be immersed both in class and outside.

That is of course if you can afford the travel, accommodation and course itself.

Why learn Russian online

A huge reason to do online courses is that 59% of these students had higher grades when studying online. Of course flexibility is on everyone’s mind, also the pace of learning and repeat-ability (if you’re a slow learner you can go back at anytime and redo what you need).

So obviously the chances of choosing an online form of study are very high and that’s a good thing.

For the rest of the article I will speak just about online Russian courses and how to jumpstart you learn russian.

Questions you may have (and answers)

  1. What is a common Russian greeting?

Здравствуйте/Здравствуй – means “good health” but is used as “hello” so you can use it more or less in any circumstance

2. What does SHTO means in Russian?

Что (shto) means “what” and you can use also какой (kakoi) means which, both very close and meaning basically a choice in something/someone

3. What does SPASIBO in Russian mean?

Спасибо is the most general expression for Thank you in Russian language. You will use it at every corner in almost every circumstance (buying stuff, asking for things and just polite).

4. How do you address a Russian person?

Impolite is ты (you singular) and polite is Вы (you singular and plural). Usually you speak to older people with Вы .

5. How do you apologize in Russian?

Простите means excuse me/sorry so to say something like “Excuse me please” you will say ” Пожалуйста, извини меня. “

6. What does Nyet mean in Russian?

Nyet means No in Russian.

7. How do you say cheers in Russian when drinking?

The Russian version for Cheers! is За здоровье! and it means ” To your health! “

You are done now, you speak Russian 🙂 Hehe

How to learn russian pronunciation

For me personally the best way to learn proper Russian pronunciation was to listen on repeat to Pimsleur Russian cd’s. The method they have is so good that it works for every language.

This is no promotion for them or anything it is just my honest one place to go for learning a new language (including Russian).

I have as well account on Memrise that contains a ton of resources both audio and exercises but to be frank I don’t want to watch the phone all the time doing those exercises.

I am sure it helps you but somehow I don’t feel the progress and get bored very easily.

So back to Pimsleur Russian, it is really good because it repeats and repeats the phrases and words over and over until you have them in the back of your head. It is strictly audio material (well there are some pdf books but I never looked at them).

The downside is you have to pay a lot of money for the cd’s Pimsleur Russian I,II,III, IV and V (1 to 5) are around 600$. God damn… you want to learn russian not learn rocket science.

If you put it in perspective it is still small sum compared to other expenses but I don’t know, it feels too much. Maybe just buy first 3 and go for 4 and 5 if you really really are into Russian.

So just listen to those CD’s in the car or on the phone whenever you are and I guarantee you you’ll be able to speak and understand in a short time.

RU language learning challenges

  1. Case system (grammatically speaking)
Russian Case System

The Nominative Case. (The subject of a sentence)

The nominative case is used for the subject of a sentence. In the sentence “I love her”, the word “I” is the subject. The nominative case is the dictionary form for nouns, so there is nothing special to learn here.

The only time you need to change the ending is to form the plural. In English we make a plural by adding “s”. In Russian, in the nominative case, you make a plural by using the letters “и”, “ы”, “я” or “а”. Learn Russian they said, it will be fun they said.

For masculine nouns:
If the word ends in a consonant, add “ы”.
Replace “й” with “и”
Change “ь” with “и”

For feminine nouns:
Replace “а” with “ы”
Change “я” with “и”
Replace “ь” with “и”

For neuter nouns:
Replace “о” with “а”
Replace “е” with “я”

Examples:
студент becomes: студенты (student – students)
газета becomes: газеты (newspaper – newspapers)
здание becomes: здания (building – buildings)

The Accusative Case. (The object of a sentence)

To form simple sentences like “I want a dog”, you need to use the accusative case also. The accusative case is used for the object of a sentence, in this case the word “dog”. The only time we use the accusative case in English is with pronouns. We use “me” instead of “I” and “him” instead of “he”. Russian uses the case for all nouns.

Russian is very free about word order. For example, in Russian it may be possible to change the order of the words in a sentence, without changing the actual meaning. This doesn’t work in English because we rely on the subject always coming first. However, in Russian it still makes perfect sense because the object will still be in the accusative case. It is normal in Russian to use the same word ordering as English.

Definition: An “animate” noun is something that is alive (person or animal, not plants). An “inanimate” noun is a non-living object.

Here are the rules for forming the accusative case from the dictionary (nominative) form.

Masculine Nouns:
1. If the noun in inanimate, there is no change.
2. If noun is animate and ends in a consonant, add “а”.
3. If noun is animate, replace “й”, with “я”.
4. If noun is animate, replace “ь”, with “я”.

Feminine Nouns:
1. Replace “а” with “у”.
2. Replace “я” with “ю”.

Neuter Nouns:
1. Inanimate nouns do not change (almost all neuter nouns are inanimate).

Examples:
спорт remains: спорт (sport)
музыка becomes: музыку(music)
Москва becomes: Москву(Moscow)
газета becomes: газету(newspaper)
здание remains: здание(building)
Иванbecomes: Ивана(Ivan)

2. Russian Gender (grammatically speaking)

In Russian, as with many other languages, each noun is assigned a gender. Russian has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter (neutral). In the cases of words like “father” these relate to physical gender. In the case of other objects like “pen”, “cup”, “house”, there is no physical meaning attached to the gender. However you will still need to know the gender because it affects how words are formed. Luckily, unlike many languages, in Russian it is almost always possible to tell what the gender of a noun by its spelling. This is not true in some other languages where you just have to memorise them.

When you use a noun as the subject of a sentence, it will be in its dictionary form. In this form you can easily work out it’s gender. If the noun is in another part of the sentence the ending is changed to suit the case. From the dictionary form of a noun, here is how you can tell what the gender is:

1. Look at the last letter of the word:
2. If it is a consonant, or “й”, the word is masculine.
3. If it is “а” or “я” it is feminine.
4. If it is “о” or “е” it is neuter.
5. It is a soft sign “ь” then it could be either masculine or feminine.

There are very few exceptions to these rules. But there are five notable exceptions, this occurs mainly because of physical gender.
Папа – (Daddy, Papa) – Is Masculine
Дядя – (Uncle) – Is Masculine
Дедушка – (Grandfather) – Is Masculine
Мужчина – (Man) – Is Masculine
Кофе – (Coffee) – Is Masculine (however neuter is now acceptable)

Some examples:

Masculine : паспорт (passport), документ (document), брат (brother), Хлеб (bread).
Feminine : газета (newspaper), Россия (Russia), Дочь (daughter)
Neuter : здание (building), радио (radio), письмо (letter)

3. Russian Language Pronunciation

That is a hard one to put in writing since it is audio based to I would go back to Pimsleur cassettes for proper audio so I wouldn’t really want a book to teach me proper pronunciation.

Also listening to radio or Youtube videos is helping because you will hear how people speak currently and what phrases you use, compared to the 80’s when the recordings were made for majority of the online content.

How about some statistics about russian language?

Russian Language in ex-USSR

It is very interesting fact that a lot of other countries from the ex USSR empire still have Russian as a main language (with just small variations and new words peppered here and there).

Here if you want to see a map ( I love maps )

Where is Russian language spoken

How about some fancy Russian quotes (that became proverbs)?

  1. “Мой дядя самых честных правил” = ‘My uncle, what a worthy man…’ (Alexander Pushkin)
  2. “Не вынесла душа поэта // Позора мелочных обид” = ‘The Poet’s soul did not bear // The shameful hurts of low breed,’ (Mikhail Lermontov)
  3. Не хочу учиться, а хочу жениться!” = ‘I do not want to study, I want to marry!’ (Denis Fonvizin)
  4. “Рукописи не горят!” = ‘Manuscripts don’t burn!’ (Mikhail Bulgakov)
  5. “Тварь я дрожащая или право имею?” = ‘Whether I am a trembling creature or whether I have the right?’ (Fyodor Dostoevsky)
  6. “Делу – время, потехе – час” = ‘Time for business, an hour for fun’ (Tsar Alexis of Russia)
  7. Есть еще порох в пороховницах!” = ‘There is yet powder in the powder-flasks!’ (Nikolay Gogol)

Those seven above are good to know because they became part of the culture and it is always nice to understand some expression and to whom it belongs.

Most common 1000 russian words

I won’t add them all here because it would be crazy to load the page but you can just go to these guys page on 1000mostcommonwords.com and read them/save them or do whatever you want with them. They are free so very nice of them to share and compose the list 🙂

Here for the sake of mentioning a few I give you first 20.

1) в – in, into, to [v] Я живу́ в Москве́. – (I live in Moscow.)
2) не – not [nyeh] Я не знаю. – (I don’t know.)
3) на – on, at, to [nah] Вилка лежит на столе. – (A fork is on the table.)
4) я – I [yah] Я – студент. – (I’m a student.)
5) что – what, that [shtoh] Что вы делали? – (What were you doing?)
6) быть – to be, there is, there are [bit’] Я хочу быть с тобой. – (I want to be with you.)
7) с – with, from [s] Рад познакомиться с вами. – (I’m glad to meet [with] you.)
8) он – he, it [ohn] Где он? Он на работе. – (Where’s he? He’s at work.)
9) а – and, but [ah] Это Тим, а это его жена. – (This is Tim, and that is his wife.)
10) как – how, as, like [kahk] Как вас зовут? – (What is your name? / How are you called?)
11) э́то – this is, that is [eh-tuh] Это – компьютер. – (This is a computer.)
12) по – along, around, according to [poh] Она говорит по телефону. – (She’s talking on the phone.)
13) э́тот – this [eh-tuht] Пожалуйста, заполните э́тот бланк. – (Please, fill in this form.)
14) к – to, towards [k] Автобус подъехал к ресторану. – (The bus drove up to the restaurant.)
15) но – but [noh] Извини, но мне надо идти. – (I’m sorry, but I have to go.)
16) они́ – they [uh-nee] Они наши друзья. – (They are our friends.)
17) мы – we [mi] Мы друзья. – (We are friends.)
18) весь – all, whole [vyehs’] Весь день идёт дождь. – (It’s been raining all day.)
19) у – by, at [oo] Машина стоит у окна. – (The car is parked by the window.)
У меня есть два билета. – (I have two tickets. / [At me there are two tickets.])
20) кото́рый – which [kah-toh-riy] Который час? – (What time is it? / [Which hour?])

Not bad right? It should take you 4 days to learn them 🙂

Language learning websites (the complete list)

I don’t like TOP5 or TOP10 lists because to be honest they are skipping some good resources so I was thinking to just make a huge list with everything (so I save you time).

This is by no means a top so number 1 is totally random.

  1. www.russianpod101.com

2. Reddit.com/r/Russian

3. fluentin3months.com

4. explorerussian.com

5. annagroup.ru

6. pdf-language-lessons.com

7. everydayrussianlanguage.com

8. russianlessons.net

9. russianforeveryone.com

10. practicerussian.com

11. learnrussian.rt.com

12. study-languages-online.com

13. learnrussianstepbystep.com

14. russianlessononline.com

15. duolingo.com

16. Redkalinka.com

17. memrise.com

18. pimsleur.com

The websites will be updated once I find new ones but they will directly direct you to the Russian resource.

Cheers and thank you for reading TheLongWalks

Vlad

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