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The BEST steps to learn Russian:
Let's be honest, Russian is a difficult language to learn, some even say it's one of the most difficult languages to learn. Still, it can be relatively easy and enjoyable if you take the right approach. So what is the best way to learn Russian?
First, don't start by learning the alphabet. I don't understand why so many programs start with learning the alphabet. Does learning the English alphabet help someone learn to say "What do you want to do?"? And does it help them understand a native speaker when they say "Waddya wanna do?"? And can you remember 33 new things in one go? I can't.
Second, start simple, not with long, difficult words like 'здравствуйте' (formal greeting; hello). Starting with simple words and expressions, like in the dialogue on the right, helps beginners master the basics very quickly. This is also the best, fastest and easiest way to learn the Russian alphabet and learn to read Russian.
And it's not about words and grammar rules. It's about expressing ideas. "Привет!"(Hi!) is an idea and 'feeling', not just a word. And you have to learn to understand things the way they're normally spoken and learn to express yourself in the same way. This is more of a 'physical' process than a 'mental' process. Memorization is the wrong method for learning any language. You need physical practice to develop the 'physical ability' to hear and say things properly.
Sample material for learning Russian:
Here's a sample of something new that we're working on. The text is now 'linked' to the audio so you can repeat a phrase or word as often as you like, simply by clicking on it. Please note that we can't figure out how to turn off the 'autoplay' and the 'spacebar' control for pause/play doesn't work in all browsers.
Learn Russian - Beginner
And we're working on a new series called 30-30, which introduces 30 new words in 30 minutes of audio. Here's the first of that series.
30-30_01 : Your first 30 Russian words PDF for 30-30_01(click to open PDF in new tab)
We also really encourage you to learn to type Russian, and to help you do that, we've created a new series that will help you learn the Russian keyboard in no time.
Learn to type Russian
The BEST websites for learning Russian:
There are many good websites to help you learn Russian, but I've yet to find one that really provides everything I need/want to learn Russian. Hopefully our site does provide everything you need/want to help you learn Russian.
MasterRussian.com is a particularly good site with lots of information but it really doesn't provide a 'step-by-step' path for a learner to follow and progress from absolute beginner to advanced.
The forum at MasterRussian.com is quite good and you can get a lot of help there from native Russian speakers. Several of the groups on Facebook for learning Russian are also good, and the members there are also very, very helpful.
That still leaves the problem of finding a real 'step-by-step' program for learning Russian. How about the various programs for learning Russian?
The BEST programs for learning Russian:
Again, I've yet to find a program for learning Russian that 'has it all'. Each program has its 'pluses and minuses', so using a variety of them does provide more of what you need, but that still leaves the student 'struggling for direction' and wondering what to learn next.
Our goal is to remove that burden from the learner. We want to provide a full range of options and choices, but we want the path to be very, very clear and easy to follow. As easy as clicking 'next', 'next', 'next', until you're finished and know Russian well.
I think many of the programs like "In-Flight Russian", "Learn Russian in Your Car", Berlitz "Earworms" and others are really quite poor. I used the "Living Language" series for a while, and it was helpful but had many faults. For example, it gave a list of "100 most commonly used words" and gave 3 sample sentences for each. Nice idea, but the vocabulary used in the examples totalled more than 1000 words! The examples must also be limited to only those 100 words.
Other well known programs like Pimsleur Russian and Michel Thomas are useful and have several good features, but again they are far, far from a complete program in learning Russian.
So where does that leave you, the student? Well, it left me with nothing. Actually, I first started learning Russian at the Russian Cultural Center in Jakarta. The teacher was a very nice Russian man and the course was very cheap, but they spent 2 weeks just on the alphabet! Luckily I started the course 2 weeks late. I immediately realized, however, that the same principles that were working so well in our program for learning Indonesian, would work well for learning Russian.
That led me on a search to find such a program, but of course, I never found it. And I've yet to find anything that really comes close.
What's the BEST way to learn Russian?
Quite frankly: we're still working on it. And our goal is to continue making our program better and better. We don't spend any time or money on marketing our product and trying to sell it. We simply focus on making it easier for you and everyone else to learn Russian.
How are we doing? Well, the material for beginners through to intermediate is very complete. Below is a small sample of the material for absolute beginners. And notice that with each 'series' we again cover every single step: every word, every idea, every concept, starting at the beginning. In that way, the student is constantly reviewing and strengthening their understanding of everything. You need to look at something from all angles in order to see it and understand it completely.
If you're taken to a new location, say to a friend's home in Russia, you won't likely remember how to get there again on your own after just one time. If, however, you go there many times, and more importantly, from many different directions, then everything will become familiar and you can easily find your way, on your own, in all conditions. Such is the way also with learning a new language.
Here's a video showing our original Lesson 1.
It's nice to know that after all this time, these lessons are still extremely effective, but because Russian is such a difficult language, we later realized that these lessons alone were far from enough. Also, different learners progress at different speeds, so you need enough material to ensure that everyone understands and masters everything.
Here's a new video series that quickly and effectively introduces 5 new words to your vocabulary. Plus it begins introducing you to the Russian alphabet but in a natural and easy to grasp manner.
We also have a completed series introducing 10 new words, along with sample sentences using ONLY the words learned already.
What's the BEST way to learn Russian grammar?
That's an excellent question! And Yulia often used to ask me, "Why are you doing all this? It's too much work. There's already a complete system that all Russians use in school and have used for hundreds of years." My reply was that the existing methods for learning/teaching Russian grammar simply don't make sense to me. And if the same system has been used for a hundred years, then there's bound to be a better way, and I'm determined to find it.
Here's a sample table to help you learn about Russian cases. It's an Excel file that I converted to a webpage, so it has a handy 'tab' format. Check it out!!
If you'd like to try our material to help you learn Russian, it's a very simple process. For just $10 per month, you get access to everything you need to learn Russian. We've yet to have a member join and not be satisfied, but if, for whatever reason, you need to cancel your membership, it's a very simple process through PayPal.
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To continue browsing, choose your level directly or continue reading below.
I promise, it's NOT difficult to learn to read Russian. Don't 'chicken out' and use transliterated text and do NOT waste any time learning the alphabet or studying the phonetics, simply begin reading. Listen and read. Let your intuitive mind take charge and you WILL learn, I guarantee.
Here's a short, funny video to learn your first 3 words, while getting a glimpse into Russian culture.
Language came first, and grammar was created later by 'Those-Who-Know' to try and explain what everyone already knew. Similarly when learning a new language, focus on understanding and expressing ideas and the grammar will be sorted out later.
What's very interesting to see after you've read and listened to Lessons 1 and 2, is the vocabulary covered. Russian Lesson 2 - vocab
After reading the lessons, students feel like they've covered a lot. It feels like a lot. After all, you were 'speaking Russian' for several minutes straight.
When you look at the vocabulary covered, you think, "That's it? That's ALL the words that were used? Wow!!"
And you gain confidence. You think, "Hey, maybe I can do this."
Here's a list of words to get you going, and remember, don't waste time and effort trying to memorize words. Glance over the list quickly and let your intuitive learning ability take control.
Creating confidence is a key element in order to maximize results.
When you look at the vocabulary covered to Lesson 4 (which will be read in your very first hour ever of learning Russian) it seems manageable. You feel like you've had a serious workout, but you feel capable.
Movies are great for helping you learn Russian, even for beginners. They're fun to watch and many expressions will get locked in your memory immediately. Like when professor Dumbledore shouts "Тихо!" (Silence!). Once is all it takes to lock it in.
The most natural Russian is in Russian movies of course, and here's a wonderful film with beautiful scenery of the Crimea.
And of course, if Tarzan can learn Russian, so can you!! :) Watching movies you know with Russian audio is super since you can immediately make associations of what you hear with the action and story.