Ten Facts About Learning Russian

I often get asked what it's was like to learn Russian, and how difficult I found it. So here are 10 facts about the Russian language and what it's like to learn, if you're interested in learning or just interested in general.
  1. There are 33 letters in the Russian alphabet - each letter is a sound, like 'r' or 'sha'. And putting the sounds together is how you read.
  2. Russian handwriting uses letters not symbols, so you don't need to be an artist! It can take a bit of time to get speedy at, but once you've got it, it's fine.
  3. The alphabet is not the hardest point in the language for most people. My students can read basic words in the first lesson. Then it usually takes around 4 lessons to read fairly confidently. There are however some really long words, which can be tricky to read even at intermediate level.
  4. So what is the hardest thing? … I think there are 3 things: that are hardest. I'll do them in the next three points. Firstly, unlike other languages we learn, there are six 'cases' in Russian. These are basically rules, which mean you have to change the endings of the words in a sentence when saying different things. For example, you have to change the ending of 'black cats' when saying 'I love black cats' just because there's a rule there.
  5. Secondly, there are loaaads of different ways to say 'to go.' You don't just go in Russian. Do you go by transport, on foot, one way, or there and back? It all matters!
  6. Thirdly, Russian verbs (doing words like 'to play') come in pairs. For every one verb in English, there are two in Russian to learn. These three points are the hardest things in the language. If you can get the hang of these, you really will be speaking Russian properly.
  7. There is no word for 'a' or 'the' in Russian. Which makes things easier! To say I am a tourist you just say 'I tourist.'
  8. Another good thing is there are plenty of words in Russian that are taken from English, so are the same as in English!
  9. Babooshka actually means 'grandma' in Russian. :)
  10. There are 3 genders in Russian. Unlike French or Spanish, where there is masculine and feminine, in Russian there is also a neuter gender.