Everyone is capable of mastering the Russian language, no matter their age, previous skills or past failures. The key to successfully learning any language is desire. That is why the first thing you need to understand before studying Russian is what your own motivation is. This could be a working necessity, family roots, desire to speak the beautiful language of Pushkin and Tolstoy or to gain the fascinating experience of speaking another language to broaden your worldview and enrich your life. Whatever the case may be we offer some tips from School of Russian Leader to learn and improve your Russian language.
1. Learning the Russian alphabet to be able to read is very important, because reading is the only way to widen your vocabulary and understand texts. The Russian alphabet is not as difficult as it may seem: the roots of the Russian letters are much the same as Latin letters – both alphabets originate from Ancient Greek. Try to focus on the similarities rather than the differences, and this will help you master the Russian alphabet fast!
2. The main principle in mastering Russian grammar is not to ‘jump the gun’. The Russian language surely can be defined as logical and structured, and all of the different cases complement one another. Don’t let yourself get too stuck on grammatical details and don’t try to master all of these nuances on day one. You should only be focused on the idea that is being expressed on a given day. Just relax and take it step by step.
3. To speak Russian you need to build on your vocabulary, learn the cases and verb conjugations. If you master a handful of simple words every day, as you continue studying-your skills in Russian will continue to improve. How should you go about doing this? Write each form of the most common words out on pieces of paper, and post them on your apartment walls, above your desk, or on the refrigerator. Use flashcards (a word plus the phrase context) and practice them all the time. Use a diverse Russian language media that is available on your computer and get apps for your smartphone. Join the School of Russian Leader Facebook group and watch free video lessons.
4. The best way to study Russian is to be in a Russian speaking country, as there is no substitute for practice with a native speaker. School of Russian Leader invites you to study the Russian language with us in Minsk. Here everyone speaks Russian and prices are significantly lower than in other countries (a week course at Leader is 100 euros). In addition, there is a wide variety of cultural activities, helpful and hospitable Belorusian people and a high level of safety.
5. It is highly recommended that you study the Russian language with a professional tutor, especially at the Beginner level. A tutor will help you master your pronunciation, practice colloquial speech that you don’t often see in a textbook, correct your mistakes and answer all of your numerous questions. A tutor is needed for inspiration, motivation and for feedback. More than anything, a good teacher can keep the learner motivated and accelerate the learning process. In other words, to master the language of a different culture, you need contact with a representative of that culture.
6. The optimal lesson duration is 45-50 minutes. The recommended number of lessons a day if you would like to see fast improvement is 3-4 lessons, with a 30 minute breaks in between. Does that seem like too much? Actually the lessons go very fast, and you still have the whole day after your course to relax, walk and explore the city.
7. Learning a language takes consistent work and discipline. Allot a certain amount of time every day to learning Russian, and stick to your schedule. Even by spending a mere 15 minutes a day, your skills can improve dramatically. Another thing that helps is to have regular online lessons (the recommended minimum is 2 lessons per week). Some students are reluctant to take online lessons, but if you try it once you will see that it really works! All you need is a computer with a camera, a microphone and an internet connection. Having a Russian lesson online means that you see, hear and speak with your tutor as if you were in the same room! You can send your homework by email and all mistakes and questions will be explained by your tutor afterwards as it would be at school. Another advantage of online lessons is time flexibility and a good price. At School of Russian Leader 1 online lesson is 15$!
8. Do your homework. This is a very simple and old rule, but it is still the best way to achieve perfect results. Learning a language is like doing sports: if you want to reach your goal you need to practice and nobody can do this for you. Do not consider homework a necessity or burden; it is just a step on the way to your success!
9. Make mistakes! A language is a means of communication; it’s not a table of grammar rules. To speak a language you have to actually speak it. Don’t be afraid to say a phrase wrong, just go ahead and express your thoughts the way you can. After being corrected you will never make that mistake again. Mistakes are often the best teachers!
10. Learning a language is actually a lot of fun! If you don’t take yourself too seriously you can have laugh during your individual or group course. Enjoy this opportunity to relax for a moment during your lessons!
11. After a couple of weeks of learning Russian most students reach a plateau. They often forget words, verb forms and cannot memorize new information. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal. If you find yourself going through a tough time and feel, that your language learning has hit a wall, why not allow yourself the luxury of a break without beating yourself up? Forget about Russian for a few days and after a break you will be surprised that all the forgotten information is back!
12. Praise yourself for your achievements with a concrete plan – a trip to a Russian speaking country to show off your language skills, buy something that you like or organize a Russian style party with your friends to celebrate your success!
13. Try to include an element of game and entertainment into your daily studies. Watch Russian films or listen to Russian music. This activity will help improve listening and vocabulary at the same time. At first you can use subtitles, then turn the subtitles off when the listening part of this activity becomes easier. For example the MosFilm Channel on YouTube is a goldmine. You can find some films with English subtitles.
Remember, that with some work and persistence anyone is capable of communicating in Russian! Enjoy studying the Russian language and don’t forget to have fun along the way!