Spoken by about 144 million people around the world, Russian is one of the world's major languages. The majority of Russian speakers live in Russia, where Russian is an official language, but you will also find significant communities of Russian-speakers in neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and Belarus. If you are planning to travel to Russia in the near future, it is a good idea to learn to speak some Russian before you leave, as not everyone in Russia speaks English. Even if you do not have long to go before your trip, it is possible to learn to speak basic Russian fast by using the Internet.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Familiarise yourself with the Russian alphabet. Understand that Russian is written with the Cyrillic alphabet, which is different from the alphabet in English. If you only want to speak Russian, you do not need to learn to read and write in this alphabet, however, you will need to recognise the letters and understand the sounds that they correspond to. Know that Russian is a phonetic language, which means that most words are said the way they are spelt.
Master Russian pronunciation. Listen to the pronunciation of the Russian vowels online and practice repeating the sounds aloud yourself after the audio. Understand the difference between hard and soft consonants in Russian. The Russian consonant "t," for example, sounds like the "t" in English "talk" when hard, but like the "t" in English "tune" when soft. Pay particular attention to letters that look the same in English and Russian, but have different sounds. Pronounce the Russian letter "e" like the "ye" sound at the start of the English word "yes," for example.
Learn some basic Russian phrases. If you need to learn to speak Russian fast, concentrate on the vocabulary that will be most useful to you when you need to learn Russian in real life. If you plan to use Russian for business, listen to the Business Russian podcasts on the UCLA Center for World Languages website. If you plan to travel to Russia as a tourist, focus on learning relevant phrases for checking into a hotel or buying tickets. Listen to common phrases for tourists on the website of Way to Russia and practice repeating them aloud.
Practice speaking Russian. The quickest way to improve is to use what you learnt in conversation with another speaker. Search for native Russian speakers in your local area and arrange to meet for a chat. Alternatively, find other learners of Russian who live nearby and meet to practice your speaking skills together. When talking to a native, ask him to take notes on your Russian accent and pronunciation and give you feedback at the end of the conversation regarding ways you could improve.
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