Learning Russian: How hard is it?

door Regina Coeli

Read or listen to Russian without any previous knowledge, and chances are you won’t be able to make heads or tails of it. But does that also mean that Russian is a difficult language to learn? There are two essential keys to understanding the Russian language.

The key to Russian writing

Russian is written in Cyrillic script. This comes from ancient Greek and is comparable to the Latin alphabet in which you’re now reading this text. With 33 characters, it’s alphabet is fairly clear. Those characters can be replaced almost one to one with letters from the Latin alphabet.

If you understand the script, the door to the Russian language opens for you. Once you can decipher it, you’ll see that many Russian words resemble what you already know. Russian has quite a few loan words from English, German, French and even Dutch.

The key to the Russian pronunciation

Languages like Italian and Spanish have alternating consonants and vowels, which makes pronunciation rules very clear. In Slavic languages, you often see lots of consonants in a row. And that makes words more difficult to pronounce and understand—one minor consolation: multiple consonants in a row are less common in Russian than in other Slavic languages.

Because of its many sibilants, Russian can be difficult to understand. But a somewhat practiced ear can distinguish between the sounds well.

And then the grammar...

The Russian language belongs to a different language family than English, Dutch and German, all of which are Germanic languages. The grammar is, therefore, quite different. Russian has many rules, but, fortunately, few exceptions. It has six cases, and that doesn't make it very easy. On the other hand, you don’t have to take articles into account, and the order of the words in sentences is flexible.

You make it as hard on yourself as you want

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how difficult it is to learn a language, but how well you are guided in the process. If you have language trainers who teach you everything in a logical order and look at how you learn best, it’s worth its weight in gold. If you’ve spent years struggling to learn a language and still don’t speak a word, you’ll see any language as an impregnable fortress.

Learn Russian your own way

You can learn to speak Russian in a short time at Regina Coeli—you learn the basics of Russian in an intensive programme of just one week. You soon discover that you’re able to have conversations in Russian. The length of your programme depends on your current level and final goals. Get advice from one of our language trainers to find out how to best learn Russian.

More about Russian language training
Learn Russian your own way

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