Is Russian hard to learn? Five little words, with such vast meaning, and such a complex answer. If you’re looking for a simple “yes” or a “no,” I’m sorry to say that this might not be the article for you. However, I will say that we don’t believe that Russian is THE most difficult language to learn. (Find out what that language is here!) Read on for a more detailed explanation of our non-answer…
I know that these “cop-out” answers can be frustrating. But let me explain. Trying to answer this question would be like trying to answer the question, “Is chocolate ice cream better than vanilla ice cream?” First, whatever answer I give will be correct, according to some of you, and incorrect according to others. It’s a matter of preference. Some of you might never have eaten ice cream altogether. It’s a matter of culture. Some of you might even be lactose intolerant! It’s a matter of the personal challenges you face. You get the idea. There are a lot of factors that make this question much more complex than it seems on the surface.
A Better Question
Since this question is so broad, it’s nearly impossible to answer. Instead, we’re going to focus on possible difficulties some people may face personally. These won’t all apply to everyone, and there may even be some that we missed, but they are a good place to start if you want to try to answer the question “Is Russian hard to learn?” for yourself.
Another thing to keep in mind: just because something is “hard” doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. And, the benefits of learning Russian will more than likely far outweigh the difficulty factor.
Some English Speakers Might Find Russian Difficult Because…
Since this article is in English, we’re going to narrow down our focus and address the question of is Russian hard to learn as it pertains to native English speakers. As mentioned above, the Foreign Service Institute put Russian in category 4 (out of 5) on their difficulty scale. This mostly takes into consideration lexical, graphical, and conceptual factors. If you haven’t already, check out our recent article about the differences and similarities between the English and Russian languages. It will give you a good idea of what to look out for, and what might actually make Russian easy for you. Here are a few specifics aspects some English speakers may find challenging about learning Russian, based on the three things we pointed out in the ice cream analogy.
This one is simple. If you enjoy something, you’re more likely to want to spend time doing it. Learning languages is no exception. You’ll tend to have a more positive attitude from the outset if your reasons for learning Russian are personal, and this is important for motivation. If you are being forced to learn Russian for one reason or another, you will likely struggle more simply because of your attitude.
If you aren’t the one who decided that you need to learn Russian, take a look at these reasons why Russian is actually a great language to know. Or, get some fun facts about the language. For example, did you know that astronauts need to be proficient in Russian?
As English speakers, it’s true that we don’t brush up against Russian speakers or Russian culture too often. You will very rarely hear Russian spoken in the streets, and I can’t remember the last Russian film that showed in my town, even at the independent theater. No one’s TV gets any popular Russian television channels, but many of us get Telemundo, for example. So, this culture proximity aspect can make Russian more difficult to learn than say, Spanish or Italian. You’ll have to dig a little deeper to find resources to practice Russian, but we provide some to get your started below.
Another thing that makes Russian culturally more difficult for English speakers is the language’s proximity to other European languages. Russian has more words in common with Slavic languages, French, Italian, and German than it does with English, for example. However, you already know about 10% of Russian words just by knowing English!
Is Russian hard to learn for everyone, or is it harder for some people? The Foreign Service Institute estimates that English speakers can become proficient in Russian in about 1100 “class hours.” Obviously, this will depend a lot on your personal learning style, other languages you may know, the learning methods you choose to employ, how much time you can devote to learning and whether or not you study consistently, and more.
The most difficult part about the Russian language will probably be grammar for most people. If you are familiar with the MosaLingua method, you know that we don’t emphasize grammar in the beginning stages. Learn some useful vocab first, stay focused on your goal (communication), and grammar will come along naturally as you go.
…But, Here Are Some Things That Can Help
- Language partners – we are really into this language-learning resource. In this day and age, there’s no need to leave home to get exposure to foreign languages. We even have a guide about where and how to find language partners. Before you get started, read up on how to get the most out of an online language exchange. It’s much more engaging to talk with a real person about your genuine interests than to stick to books and artificial exercises.
- Movies, TV, songs, books, podcasts – check out the list of Russian resources we have compiled. There’s something for everyone, and it’s a good idea to switch up the types of activities you’re using to learn language. Keep things fun and interesting, and work on different skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing, culture, etc.)
- The MosaLingua Learn Russian app for iOS, Android, and your desktop – I can attest to the effectiveness of our newest app. I personally use it every day and I’m constantly amazed at how well it works
So, Is Russian Hard to Learn?
At the end of the day, you are the only person who can make this judgment for yourself. Don’t ask yourself, “Is Russian hard to learn?” Ask yourself if you are up to the challenge! We hope these points will help you understand the aspects of the language that you might need to spend some extra time working on, and give you a few strategies for doing so. Don’t forget to check out these tips we suggest for learning Russian, and of course download the MosaLingua Russian app! As always, drop any questions you might have in our comments section. We are here to help!
Is Russian Hard to Learn? It’s Easier than You Think!
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