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The Easiest Way to Learn Russian

Captain JackIf you’re thinking about learning Russian the first thing I would ask is this. How dedicated are you? In Pirates of the Caribbean there’s a scene I like.

“How far are you willing to go to save her?” Captain Jack Sparrow ask Will.

“I’d die for her!” Says the enraptured son of Bootstrap Bill Turner.

Well ask yourself, how far are you willing to go to learn Russian? You’re not going to have to kill yourself, but you are going to have to dedicate a significant amount of time to reach a basic level of fluency. Something like studying an hour a day, every day, for more than a year. Are you willing to put in that kind of effort? Because while there are easy and effective ways to learn Russian, they still take time. With that in mind, in this article I’ll tell you about how to learn Russian effectively without spending thousands of dollars on university courses.

Preply

Preply is a Ukrainian based company and they specialize in finding language tutors. If you want to take Russian lessons with a native speaker, this is the simplest and most cost effective way to do it. Some Russian teachers charge as little as $5 per hour-long Skype lesson. That means you can have 5 hours of class every week for less than it costs to go out for a Russian style night of drinking.

What’s great about Preply is that you’ll get to hear a native speaker, you’ll be speaking right from the beginning, and your classes will be one-on-one. Questions, don’t understand something? You can ask for an explanation immediately. When I was studying with a teacher on Preply I would often bring lists of questions that would take up our whole hour. That made the lessons fun for me and easy for her. We both won!

Naturally, there are some disadvantages. The first is that all of the lessons take place on Skype. Sometimes your teacher will be hard to hear or the connection may drop. Another disadvantage is that many of the tutors you find on Preply are not actual teachers. Instead their native speakers who may, or may not, have some teaching experience. That means difficult grammar questions often go unanswered.

That being said, I think that the pros heavily outweigh the cons. Think about this. A single semester of a college Russian class could run you $500. If that’s a 101 class you’ll be in there with fifteen other people and you’ll rarely, if ever, get individual attention. For the same $500 you can get one-hundred one-on-one Russian language lessons on Preply. Which one do you think is going to be more effective?

Michel Thomas Tapes

These tapes are genius. I haven’t used them for Russian, but I’m using them for German and I’m very impressed. After a few weeks I learned more than 100 words and was able to create logical sentences that my German grandmother understood. When learning how to speak Russian in University, I made it to that same level after two years of study. Let me say that again..

Michel Thomas tapes, three weeks to form sentences and be understood.

Russian class at my university, two years..

Now Russian is hard and I’m a bad student, but it’s not that hard and I’m not that bad of a student. The problem with university classes is that you don’t learn to speak Russian, you study grammar. Grammar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That can feel overwhelming and only in a minority of the cases does it actually produce a person who becomes fluent in the language.

That’s why I recommend the tapes. They get you speaking immediately and Michel does an excellent job of explaining the Russian language. You can get a trial lesson for about $10 and if you like it you can buy the rest of the series at a large discount on eBay.

Learn More

If you’d like to discover even more about learning Russian you can download my creatively titled free eBook: How to Learn RussianHowever, if you just want to get started now, and you want to apply a Tim Ferriss, 80/20 analysis, go to Preply and find a tutor today. It’s the fastest way to learn Russian and it’s reasonably priced. You can’t go wrong.

Good luck, let me know how it goes!

Learning a Second Language is Awesome!

Learning Russian has been the most rewarding experience of my life. It’s about so much more than just the language though. I’ve learned that through hard work and consistent effort I can accomplish anything I set my mind too. That’s an incredibly powerful feeling, and it’s going to serve me for the rest of my life. Here are a few other things I’ve noticed about learning a second language, and some of the benefits that you may find on your own journey to fluency.

Learning a Second Language Teaches You..

How to Learn. Seriously though, people just aren’t that good at learning. Loads of people never work hard enough to get a decent result, or they expend all their energy in the wrong areas. They focus on the details instead of looking at the big picture. When you learn a language you figure out pretty quick that you can know words but not understand the meaning. To get past that you have to think creatively and study with a purpose. Once you figure out how to do this you can apply it to any new skill you want to learn.

That persistence is instrumental to success. The first couple of hundred hours of learning a language kind of suck. You can’t understand movies, music, jokes or regular conversation. This is a bitch, but the unshakable truth is that if you don’t stick it out you WILL NEVER learn to speak another language. I wonder, when people give up in the beginning, do they fully realize that they’re giving up any possibility of ever becoming fluent? Do they realize what’s at stake? In order to succeed anywhere in life you need persistence.

About a different culture. I’ve written about this before and I’ll write about it again. When you learn a second language you get to learn about a new lifestyle. Customs, beliefs, holidays, names, food, history, and so on. You can read about this in a book or watch a movie, but when you experience it through the language, it’s different story.

A picture of an old white lada on the side of the road in Kiev, UkraineAbout your own language. Without a second language to compare English against you literally cannot draw a comparison. It’s like if the only cars on the road were Ladas, you’d swear it was the best car ever made. In reality, a better illustration of a Lada’s value is this joke.

How do you double the value of a Lada?

Fill it up with gas. 

I’m not saying that any language is better than another one. Although Pirahã (the hardest language in the world) does seem to be rather unnecessary. What I’m saying is that without a comparison, you’ll never be able to fully understand the upsides and downsides of English (or whatever your native language is). 

That learning is forever. I’ve learned more in the last 14 months then I learned in the last eight years of school. Even though I’ve probably spent 1,000 hours studying Russian by this point, I’ve only just scratched the surface. I realize that I can study this language for the rest of my life and I’ll die with a book of material still waiting to be learned.

I think that most people who read my blog understand that you don’t stop learning after school gets out. If you already get this, a second language can really help you to cement this idea in your head. It’s why I’m shifting gears. Realizing now that I could easily study Russian forever, I’ve decided to invest my energy elsewhere and learn German. I think it will have more practical applications for me, and I’ll be able to talk to my Grandma in her native tongue. I’m looking forward to that day so much! But until then, I’ll remain a bilingual American. Which in it’s own right is fairly impressive. There aren’t a lot of us out there. So I’ll end this post with a video I shot the other day of me speaking in Russian. Check out my book to see how you can learn to do the same.

The second you stop learning is the second you die. Are there any other benefits of learning a second language that I missed, anything you want to add?

How to Learn Russian

Hello Russian enthusiasts!

Today I finished writing my second guide. As you’re probably aware, my first guide is called Try the Borsch and it’s all about how to find a good teaching job in Russia. That guide was downloaded over 100 times. I think that’s pretty cool! This time the subject is still Russia, but I’ve come at the problem of the language. Russian is bloody difficult and it doesn’t help that in university classes (at least in the United States) all you do is study grammar.

Yuck!

My guide is a cure to that. Sure I cover grammar, but I also give you lots of other fun and interesting ways to learn Russian. It’s a nice summary of all the techniques I’ve used to acquire my own level of fluency (which is close to intermediate at this point).

I encourage you to give this book a once over. Even if you’re already well on your way to fluency in Russian, I’m sure you’ll find something interesting.

Check it out here