How to learn Russian: Step by Step
I’ve been traveling and learning languages intensively for more than 10 years in which I’ve learnt over 10 languages. But Russian has definitely proven to be the most challenging.
Here are 7 tips for getting started with Russian:
- Classes with a private tutor online (X2 hours/week)
- Nail pronunciation first of all (one month)
- Learn Cyrillic alphabet (one week)
- Learn the first 500 words and phrases that are useful to me personally
- Build in contact with the language and country before I arrive there
- Purposely travel to the country itself and apply what I’ve learnt
- Build on my base in Russian to learn the language over the long term
Private Online Classes
Where to find online tutors …
Pronunciation is something that you need to get down right from the beginning so you need to prioritize this at the beginning. The course I recommend you use is the Mimic Method. You can watch my review of using it below.
- The first step is to identify the sounds in Russian and how they differ from my native tongue (English) or the other languages that I speak
- Next, I practiced making these sounds with a native speaker (my teacher from italki)
- I recorded my pronunciation and reviewed it before every class for 10 minutes
By focussing on the most important words and structures, I implicitly apply the 80/20 rule of the Pareto principle. The principle states that as a rule of thumb approximately 80% of the effects come from 20% of actions that you undertake. By placing specific attention to these 20% of actions should bring about dramatically faster progress in learning Russian.
Many language learners recommend using spaced repetition systems like Anki for memorizing vocabulary. I am personally not a fan of flash card systems. Normally I use a mnemonic (personalized memory aid) if I’m struggling to remember an important word.
- Listen to and read Glossika Russian daily for 20 minutes
- Use ‘Vocabooster Russian‘ to learn the first 600 words in Russian
- Increase my comprehension of more complex vocabulary with LingQ
- Make a deliberate effort to apply new useful vocabulary in the Russian Skype classes with my italki teacher
- Update: We recently reviewed RussianPod101 and think it’s pretty good for beginners and intermediate learners.
I am definitely not a grammar ‘nazi’ and as such don’t get particularly excited about the prospect of learning about cases and syntax. With this in mind, I’m going to get a general overview of the language’s grammar and pay attention to the most important structures only.
- Begin by reading the Wikipedia page for the Russian language
- Focus on the most important structures only in my classes with my Russian teacher by using subsitution drills
- Pay attention to trends that are occurring in the langauge