Of all Slavic languages Russian is the most important and most widely spoken.
Written Russian is constructed using the ancient Cyrillic alphabet, which has strong links with the Greek alphabet.
As well as having to contend with incredibly long words and often unusual sentence structure learners of Russian have to tackle three genders, feminine, masculine and neutral. However, as the Russian alphabet shares some similarities of pronunciation and construction with English it’s generally considered of medium difficulty to learn.
Learning to Speak Russian
If you plan on living and working in Russia then learning the language will hugely improve your career prospects and allow you to get much more out of the country socially. A willingness to at least try learning the language of your host nation will also make a big difference to how Russian nationals perceive you.
How rapidly you are able to learn Russian depends on how much commitment you give the endeavour. If you want to speak fluently it will require constant practice and complete emersion in the language.
Mingling with locals, participating in a language exchange, watching Russian television and practising with friends are all brilliant ways of using your spare time to absorb and learn. It’s also a good idea to speak your native language as little as possible, the more you have to rely on Russian to communicate the more quickly you will learn to speak it properly!
Constant practise is fantastic but some people find they can only learn with formal instruction. Many Russian universities and private language schools offer lessons, but cost and time commitment can vary significantly so doing a bit of research can really pay off. Private one-on-one classes are often the best way to learn quickly, but these are usually quite pricey. In the end it’s entirely a matter of preference whether you decide to learn at a steady pace over a long period of time or engage in intensive classes.
There are several language certificates foreign nationals can take to prove their proficiency in Russian. Some corporations/educational institutions will reject foreign applicants who don’t hold one of these certificates.
TRFL-TBU: Basic level test and certificate. An officially recognised TRFL-TUB certificate is issued after the successful completion of a basic level course and test.
TRFL-TRKI 1: The First Certification level indicates an intermediate skill level in communication in Russian.
TRFL-TRKI 2: The Second Certification level indicates an impressive grasp of Russian in a host of subject areas and social/business situations.
TRFL-TRKI 3: The Third Certification level implies that the certificate holder can communicate in Russian to an advanced level.
TRFL-TRKI 4: Those who successfully complete the Forth Certification level are considered to be almost as competent in communicating in Russian as a native speaker.