4 Strategies (You Can Apply At Work!) To Help You Learn Russian

For a career-driven person constantly on the go, finding the time to learn a foreign language can be a scarce luxury.  But thorough knowledge of a second language can reap unforeseen benefits in the workplace as well as in your everyday life.  Learning Russian, viewed by many as an “exotic” language and rarely taught in schools, is especially useful in the workforce, given America and Europe’s intense and constantly changing relationship with Russia.  Here are a few time-efficient tips for teaching yourself Russian while at work for the motivated multi-tasker.

yellow-light-letter-672072-o1. Learning the alphabet is easier than you’d think.

The Cyrillic alphabet can be intimidating at first glance, but if you learn it piece by piece you’ll realize that much of it is virtually the same as English.  Begin with the letters that are the same as their English counterparts, such as vowels A, E, and O as well as consonants C, K, M, and T.  Then move on to “false friends,” letters that look like English letters but make different sounds: B, H, P, X, and Y.  Most of the other letters then represent sounds that are easily recognizable to the English speaker, leaving very little actual memorization by the end of it.

2. Divide vocabulary words by parts of speech.

Again, Russian vocabulary can be overwhelming if you try to tackle it all at once, so break it down into parts of speech.  Try to teach yourself five nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositions each day—use a different color post-it note for each, and place them in various places around your office to remind you.  Flashcards in your desk or software apps such as Anki can also help with memorization.

keyboard-close-up-1-426332-m3. Memorize inflexions and other grammar by immersion.

There is no getting around the difficult grammar, especially all the different noun inflexions in the Russian language.  You will just have to knuckle down and memorize them.  If you can download audio files repeating the different conjugations of verbs and inflexions of nouns and pronouns, it’s very easy to listen to them at your desk and slowly become accustomed to how they are used.  Bonus points if you write them down and occasionally follow along as you’re listening.

4. Practice sight-reading online with Russian fairy tales and picture books.

While actually watching movies or short clips on YouTube (check out Vini Pukh, the Soviet Union’s version of Winnie the Pooh… it’s delightful!) may not fly with your boss, you can less conspicuously practice reading on online resources, many of which offer pictures or other graphics to ease the process along for beginners.  While this requires more presence of mind than some other tactics, it’s perfect for when you’re stuck on hold or with other busy work that requires little focus.

Clearly, these all are useful stratagems for expanding on knowledge that you already possess.  To build a firm foundation in the Russian language, it is in your best interests to take formal lessons in addition to your own personal efforts.  Send us an inquiry to found out how we can best get you started, or take our free online Russian language level test.