STUDYING THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE
According to Language Difficulty Ranking, studying Russian will take you 1100 hours. It is quite challenging compared to Dutch, French or Italian (600 hours), but twice as easy as studying Arabic, Chinese or Japanese.
Here you need to decide if you will be an optimist or a pessimist. Of course it is hard, but that’s because learning a language is hard.
And even if the Russian language is officially considered difficult, it does not mean that it is impossible to learn. When you go into it with a ‘my language is half full’ mentality, you will always learn faster thanks to this positivity!
Here are some facts to cheer you up and take the fear away from studying Russian, as there’s nothing to be scared of when you compare it to learning other languages.
One of the most common reasons for not studying Russian is an apprehension about the Cyrillic alphabet. Of course, the Russian alphabet differs from the others, but it is not difficult to learn at all. Compared to Chinese, which has thousands of characters, Russian has only 33 letters, which is approximately the same as in English. Actually you could learn Cyrillic in a day. Besides that, Russian letters have phonetic pronunciation. You pronounce it like it is spelled and you spell it like it is pronounced – just as simple as that!
Russian vocabulary is very vast, and plenty of modern sources will help you memorize new words in a short period of time. One of the most pleasant advantages is that Russian will be understood throughout Belarus and Ukraine, as well as in other former Soviet countries. For example, most Spanish speakers can recognize other Spanish word forms, but generally do not recognize specifically American usages.
Another positive is that the Russian language has plenty of loanwords from different languages, which greatly simplifies learning. For example, the English words: компьютер (computer), менеджер (manager), уикенд (weekend), ланч (lunch); French: меню (menu), суп (soup), салат (salad), билет (ticket), балет (ballet); German: бутерброд (sandwich), ландшафт (landscape), штраф (penalty), курорт (resort); Italian: пицца (pizza), паста (pasta), лазанья (lasagna), оперетта (operetta), газета (newspaper) etc.
Additionally, there is an entire class of verbs that pretty much have just been russified. For example: практиковаться (to practise), контролировать (to control), инвестировать (to invest), парковать (to park), планировать (to plan) etc.
An absence of articles in the Russian language can be seen as a big plus. For example, in German students are advised to learn nouns with their accompanying definite article, as the definite article of a German noun corresponds to the gender of the noun.
In French you have to memorize the gender for each individual word. Sure, there are patterns for things to be masculine or feminine but in general it’s not predictable. This creates additional difficulties when you add adjectives and possessive pronouns that also require the concordance from the noun. In Russian there is a set rule for what is masculine, feminine, and neuter with a manageable list of exceptions.
When you start learning Russian you really need to invest a lot of time into the grammar and the rules, but the language surely can be defined as structured and logical.
The next ‘headache’ for students is the cases. Yes, there are 6 cases in Russian language (inclusive the basic Nominative case) and you need to learn the rules of use of each case plus the endings in Singular and Plural. Sounds disappointing. But what about Finnish (around 15 cases) or Hungarian (up to 18 cases, depending on definition), or popular German (4 cases)?
Verbs of motion, verbal aspect (there are two aspects, each represented by a separate infinitive - the imperfective to indicate a continuing action, and the perfective to indicate an action already completed or to be completed) will take you a lot of effort to understand. But don’t forget about the positives, which will keep you highly motivated. For example, in English there are 12 variations of tenses, while in Russian there are only 5.
In German, the word order in the sentence is very important. In Turkish word order verbs tend to go to the end of sentences. In Russian, the word order is rather flexible. Though the Russian sentence is generally arranged subject-> verb ->object the grammar rules allow you to use practically any combination of subject, verb and object within the sentence, without changing the meaning of the sentence, and only changing the phrase intonation.
To look at it optimistically, there are many positives to studying the Russian language. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Leader Educational Center welcomes you to Minsk and invites you to enjoy studying the Russian language with us!