Best Way to Learn Russian – 10 Expert Tips

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Written By Francesca Stephens

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Do you have a passion for languages so you want to find the best way to learn Russian?

Whatever your reason is for wanting to learn Russian, there are many options to do it.

If there are no Russian language classes in your area or you simply don’t want to do it the traditional way, there are plenty of useful resources online.

But there are some things you need to take into account before you start with your lessons.

Regardless of the type of your learning resources, these tips and simple guidelines will help you learn Russian quickly and efficiently.

10 Best Ways to Learn Russian

Lucky for you, Russian isn’t particularly difficult.

If you have knowledge of other Slavic languages, you won’t have any problems mastering the basics.

Learning the Russian alphabet (Cyrillic characters) might seem a bit intimidating but it’s actually quite easy because it’s very phonetic.

That said, you can start your Russian learning journey without fear or doubt.

Of course, achieving language proficiency doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process, and you need to be very persistent and patient.

Nevertheless, if you follow these simple steps, you’ll unquestionably achieve your goals.

1. Make a plan – and stick to it

First of all, try to set realistic, short-term goals.

And make a study plan based on them.

Best way to learn Russian

If you’re planning to visit a Russian-speaking country and you want to learn some practical vocabulary useful for traveling, you can divide your lessons into different topics (going to a restaurant, booking a hotel, etc.)

If you want to learn Russian because you want to learn another useful foreign language, you should take linear lessons that will help you develop all main language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening.)

And if you want to reach fluency, you should break your goal down into smaller actionable steps.

If you create specific milestones and work consistently, you will feel more organized and accomplished (more regularly.) And keeping your motivation high is an important part of a language learning process.

But it’s also important to learn how to study smarter. This will allow you to make the most out of your lesson time.

In order to do that, determine what is your best studying time.

You should also know what study space and environment work for you.

When it comes to learning languages, it’s important to study regularly. It’s better to study for 15 minutes every day than spend hours and hours studying once a week.

One thing is for sure: learning Russian will help you develop learning habits and improve your organizational skills.

2. Use a Russian learning app

If you’re looking for the best way to learn Russian online, you’ll be happy to hear that there’s a wide array of helpful online resources.

You can download a Russian learning app, find an online course, and take virtual one-on-one lessons…

What you opt for should depend on your learning style and needs.

Russian language apps will definitely help you learn Russian quickly. They can be very straightforward and efficient.

But there are also some online platforms that will provide you with a full language course.

When it comes to reliable and popular language platforms, Rocket Languages has the best program to learn Russian.

Rocket Russian

You can use Rocket Languages on any device you want.

The Rocket Russian app is very practical and easy to use. It’s basically a mix of interactive exercises, audio tracks, video clips, and culture lessons.

It will teach you the Russian alphabet and allow you to work on your pronunciation (thanks to its speech recognition engine.)

But one of the best things about a language-learning app is the freedom to focus on your goals. Rocket Russian lessons are designed to be taken in a linear fashion, but you can also jump back and forth.

Many other apps are also very flexible.

You can learn about a topic you’re interested in or focus on a specific skill you want to improve.

Moreover, using an app to learn Russian will allow you to learn anytime, anywhere. Many apps have hands-free mode so you can learn on the go – while you’re driving, jogging, or hiking.

Without a doubt, online courses and apps will save you a lot of time.

Learning Russian online

And it will probably save you a lot of money too. Most of them are quite affordable, and others are completely free.

So, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option to learn Russian, finding a good language app would be a perfect solution.

3. Find an online tutor

If you’re serious about learning Russian, you should also find an online tutor.

Of course, hiring a private tutor would be ideal. However, there might not be a Russian teacher in your living area.

Also, online tutoring is more affordable than hiring a private teacher.

And it’s more convenient.

You can pick a time that suits you best and learn from the comfort of your home.

You just need to find the right teacher. There are several platforms (like italki) that can help you find a trustworthy online tutor and book a trial lesson.

Learning from a professional (and preferably native) teacher is truly precious. You will get valuable feedback, corrections, and suggestions.

Your teacher will adjust to your level and needs. You can also tell them all about your goals and wishes.

And if you’re not sure what you want to work on and you need clear guidance, they will provide you with a personalized study plan.

Either way, virtual Russian classes will definitely put you on the right track and improve your Russian.

4. Learn the Russian alphabet

People are usually intimidated by languages with different writing systems.

The Russian alphabet is derived from the Cyrillic script.

But it’s actually quite easy to learn because it’s very phonetic. It’s not like learning Chinese Hanzi characters or Devanagari.

The modern Russian alphabet has 33 letters. That’s really not a lot, so you’ll it won’t take you long to master it.

You just need to have the right approach.

Russian alphabet

You can start with simple and familiar letters.

Some letters are similar to English letters and they sound the same (K, M, O), so you can start with them.

And then there are letters that sound the same as in English but look completely different. For example, Г г sounds like “g“ in “go.”

Another category is letters that both sound and look strange. Й is a good example. You’ll simply have to imitate the sound and memorize it.

After you’ve learned brand new letters, you can move on to tricksters.

When you see letters like C and P, you may think you know how they’re pronounced. But don’t let the appearance fool you. Some letters of the Russian alphabet only look the same as in English. So, C actually sounds like “s” in “stone.”  

Don’t worry – you’ll get used to it. Once you get to know it, you just need to practice and read as much as you can.

5. Focus on commonly-used words

If you’re wondering what’s the fastest way to learn Russian, you should focus on useful vocabulary first, especially if you’re planning a trip to a Russian-speaking country and you want to master the basics.

Learn commonly-used words, and try to learn them in context.

Focus on popular expressions and phrases.

And make a list of cognates. Cognates are words in two languages that share the same or similar meaning, pronunciation, and spelling.

So, some Russian cognates are airport, budget, journalist, and zebra. These words are the same in Russian as in English.

Learning cognates is a quick way to expand your Russian vocabulary.

6. Learn basic grammar

Besides learning practical vocabulary, you should also learn basic Russian grammar.

Learning grammar will help you structure sentences in a proper way and allow you to express yourself more clearly.

It’s important to understand how the language works, even if your ultimate goal isn’t fluency.

Learning Russian grammar

Russian is a very rule-based language, but its grammar isn’t too complicated.

If you’re familiar with gendered language, you’ll find Russian three genders (feminine, masculine, and neuter) quite logical.

The usual structure is subject-verb-object, which is also good news.

It really isn’t that hard.

Moreover, Russian has a more flexible sentence structure than English. You can change the word order without changing the meaning (in some cases.)

Russian also has fewer tenses than English.

Therefore, don’t be afraid to delve deeper into Russian grammar. That will make things easier for you in the long run.

7. Use the language

Our next suggestion: practice, practice, practice!

And one of the best ways to practice Russian is by talking to someone who speaks it perfectly.

If you talk with native speakers, you can observe their mannerisms, intonation, and accent, and you’ll learn the slang.

Of course, it would be ideal to spend some time in a Russian-speaking country such as Kyrgyzstan or Georgia. That way, you would find yourself in situations where you simply have to speak Russian.

Plus, you would have a chance to meet local people.

You would probably learn a lot about their culture too. Hearing about a different culture (and current events) first-hand is always an interesting and unique experience.

Either way, talking to a native speaker would improve your speaking skills significantly.

If the situation doesn’t allow you to visit a Russian-speaking country, you can find native speakers online.

Best ways to learn Russian

The easiest way to do that is to find a reliable online platform that can help you find a language partner.

You can also meet fellow learners, join an online community, and so on.

There are many ways to practice and actually use the language. The important thing is to immerse yourself in the language.

8. Watch Russian movies and shows

Another way to surround yourself with the Russian language is by watching Russian movies and TV shows.

Try to find something light and easy to comprehend. Perhaps a movie with a lot of casual conversations.

And in the beginning, watch them with subtitles.

As you progress, try it without subtitles. You will probably understand a lot (you will guess some words from context), but not everything.

If you want to turn this activity into a more productive exercise, you can write down unknown words. You can also pick one word per minute.

That way, you’ll increase your comprehension and have fun along the way.

9. Read and listen

Reading Russian texts is just as important.

If you’ve mastered the Cyrillic alphabet, you should read as much as you can.

You can read online magazines and articles.

Or even better, you can try to find your favorite book in Russian translation.

Or, if you’re just starting out, read a children’s book.

Either way, you need to get used to the Russian alphabet, and reading about something you love is definitely the best way to do it.

Listening is also an important part of every language learning process.

And you can work on your listening skills on the go.

Study Russian

You can listen to Russian podcasts, radio shows, or songs.

Even passive listening will help you increase your comprehension. But you can also focus on repetitive words, write things down, etc.

Just surround yourself with the Russian language, and everything you learn in your lessons will make much more sense.

10. Make it interesting

And last but not least: add fun to your study routine.

If you want to Russian easily, you need to be productive and efficient. And one of the ways to stay on track is to keep your motivation high.

That way, you won’t get bored or overwhelmed.

Try to find an online game that will teach you Russian.

You can even study Russian in virtual reality. Some innovative language apps have VR and AR versions.

But you can add fun and versatility to your routine without online resources.

For example, you can write a label for everything in your house in Cyrillic. All right, maybe not everything, but you can label food or some items.

And if you’re still not comfortable with the Russian alphabet, make a poster of Russian letters. You feel probably feel like a kid again.

Nevertheless, there are many ways to make things interesting. Get creative, and you’ll realize that learning a new language doesn’t have to be rules and textbooks.

Final Thoughts

We hope these tips and tricks helped you make your language learning routine a little easier.

The thing is, you need to find the best way to learn Russian for you.

Think about your motivation and goals, but also find a Russian program that fits your unique learning habits.

It’s important to study in a comfortable environment and use reliable learning resources.

Luckily, with so many fantastic language platforms, learning Russian has never been easier.

And once you find the right course, you’ll learn how to speak Russian in no time!