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Why Learning Russian Unlocks A New World
Why Learning Russian Unlocks A New World
Learning Russian is a language that many find complex and somewhat intimidating. However, it is one that – once learned – unlocks vast swathes of literature and an insight into one of the most unique cultures in the world. Its alphabet, the Cyrillic alphabet, being so different from the English alphabet might strike a European as one of the most opaque languages to try and start learning.
And yet, Russian might be one of the Eastern languages most worth learning, despite it being as nebulous as it can seem to many.
A Global Language
Firstly, it’s a very widely spoken language, which is perhaps one of the greatest strengths any language can have. If you’re looking to go on a trip to anywhere from China, to Armenia to Israel, or the Baltic States, Russian is a language spoken by over 260 million people and is the eighth most-spoken language in the world.
As a Slavic language, it bears a strong resemblance to Polish, Czech and Bulgarian, too. Due to Russia's size, you'll even find some Chinese regions that share Russian heritage and speak the language, adding another country to the list of those with both cultural and travel connections to Russia.
Another big advantage of its ubiquity is the prevalence of native speakers who can offer in-person lessons, not just in Russian but often in several other Slavic languages too – and they're based all over Europe.
Tutoring is one of the most effective ways to learn Russian due to its distinct differences from many other European languages. Being exposed to the nuances of pronunciation turns of phrase, and rhythms, when spoken, is invaluable as a beginner.
Unlocking A New Culture
Some of the greatest writers of all time originated in Russia. Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Nabokov, Gogol, and Pushkin are considered some of the best modern writers, and being able to consume the wealth of Russian literature, which often operates in a much different fashion to English.
For example, the mechanics of Russian often mean ideas can be conveyed in half the words of an English phrase, meaning Russian texts are often more impactful, filled with only the most relevant longer words, rather than filler material to allow an English passage to make grammatical sense.
Equally, music like the Red Army Choir is world-famous and tied to a rich and diverse national history that is filled with tales of passion, war, betrayal, and upheaval. You are entering a new world when you begin to expand your knowledge of Russian.
Russians are sometimes stereotyped as less friendly to visitors than some countries, however, the reality is that often even a good attempt at learning and communicating in Russian can help you make real connections with the locals. Often, they appreciate even the attempt alone and are very welcoming and warm people to those with a little Russian under their belts.
Many planning large family or group vacations might be thinking about the practicals like bringing enough clothes or what to do with the family pet. However, being able to communicate, even in a fairly rudimentary way with the locals, can really open up places like Russia and help you navigate what can be a very different cultural sphere to your own.
Russian people, especially the younger generations, are a fascinating group with subcultures that touch music, lifestyle, and outlook. Being able to make friends, and connect with and understand them in their own words is always a great way to broaden your own outlook on life.
Like any language, the benefits to your social circle, sprucing up a CV, or enhancing your travel plans to the east of the globe are all great reasons to start learning. However, if you’re simply looking for a unique new challenge, learning this particular language – one that has shaped much of the philosophy, history, political thinking, and literature we see around the world today – Russian is a perfect place to start.
By no means easy to learn, but worth every second.