One of the six official languages of the UN, Russian is gradually becoming more popular to study in the West.
Russian is not only useful within the country itself. The history of the Soviet Union means that Russian is still also a widely spoken language in Eastern Europe. Therefore it is possible to travel across many countries, speaking only one language, especially amongst the older generations. Russian is still taught as the second language in most of Eastern Europe, therefore children grow up able to converse in several languages, from very early on.
One of the benefits of learning Russian, is that it is a mostly standardised language. Russia is a vast country, the largest in the world, however the same language is spoken throughout, albeit with some regional accents.
One of the most challenging aspects of Russian for beginners is the case system – we do not have anything quite like it in English.
There are six cases in total, and each of these cases cause nouns to decline, change, accordingly. Upon first glance, this can seem like an impossible prospect, however with enough hard work, it soon becomes common sense. Due to this advanced case system, word order is incredibly flexible. It is easy to understand a sentence in any order, because all of the nouns must follow the case system, regardless of where they are placed.
Phonetically, Russian is often described as sounding very harsh to others’ ears and pronunciation and stress are crucial parts of the language.
For nouns especially, the stress can be completely random, which can create a lot of difficulties when learning how to speak. For example, a change in stress can cause the word ‘lock’, to become ‘castle’, and vice versa.
There are always a plethora of reasons that students have for learning Russian. Many of them simply pick it because it looked interesting, and proved to be a fun challenge. Others go down the literature route. Russia has an impressive reputation for its literature, something that they are still very proud of to this day.
It is impossible not to notice the sheer amount of people reading large books on public transport, in lieu of newspapers.
Russia’s literary heritage is still something that is very much celebrated. Upon visiting the Pushkin House Museum in St Petersburg, one would expect it to be full of tourists. However, this is not the case. The museum is dominated by Russians, looking to find out more about their beloved national poet.
The Russian language reflects its culture and its history, and in order to get an understanding of the Russian mentality, learning the language is required.
Once the culture begins to be understood, then the translation process will begin to get easier. It is a country that has undergone some vast changes in a relatively short amount of time. Although the country is still seen as vastly different to the West, it is modernising, with many loan words coming into the day to day vernacular. Russian is an incredibly important language on the world stage, and one that is highly sought after. Therefore, learning Russian is a highly rewarding and highly regarded skill, and will continue to be for years to come.