Learning new languages is a fulfilling experience!
Who wouldn't fancy being multilingual? It's a great way to impress guests at dinner parties, make new friends around the world and open yourself up to new cultures, music, and literature!
In the United States, we're exposed to a handful of languages. If you live in Houston or San Diego, you might have picked up on Spanish. If you live in New Orleans, you might have been exposed to some French.
But that's about it. Unlike in Europe, Americans are not exposed to a large range of spoken or written languages. When it comes to learning new languages, it's usually between French, German, or Spanish.
This is because these languages are written in Latin script, the one we've been using all our lives.
Russian is one of the most spoken languages in the world and could be useful to learn! It is the language of Leo Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, ballet, and red Bolsheviks. But you probably recognize it as the language of our enemies throughout the cold war.
Although countless movies and TV shows from the '90s had portrayed Russians and their language as harsh and unwelcoming, it couldn't be farther from the truth!
Maybe you harbored a desire to learn Russian but never could get round to it because of the funny looking Cyrillic script? There are a few challenges in learning Russian, but writing isn't one of them.
With a little dedication and a helpful Russian teacher, learning the Cyrillic alphabet is a breeze.
Why Should You Learn Russian In LA?
Are you still mulling over whether you should give Russian a try or drop it for something easier? Maybe you figured you'd be better learning Spanish in a city like Chicago?
Let us give you a few reasons why learning Russian is an excellent idea.
Russian Is A Widely Spoken Language
With 155 million speakers, Russian clocks in as the eighth most spoken language globally.
You'd be surprised to know that it's the most spoken language in Europe, far ahead of French, German and English!
Russian also happens to be one of the five official languages of the United Nations.
Additionally, it was widely used as a lingua franca in the former Soviet bloc. Even today, a large percentage of the population in Central Asia, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States can speak in Russian.
It's also a popular second language in Eastern Europe because of Russia's lasting political influence.
We learn Spanish because of the Latin influence in America, the same way learning Russian is important if you want to communicate in Central Asia, Caucasus, or Slavic Europe.
And interestingly, many American cities, like NYC, have large Russian-speaking diasporas. All the more reason why you should learn to speak Russian.
Russian also helps you in learning other Slavic languages. It sits in the East Slavic branch of families.
Russian, Belarussian, and Ukrainian are mutually intelligible to a basic level. Also, there is Russian influence in other Eastern European languages like Bulgarian and Polish as well.
Russia is the world's largest country, spanning two continents and eleven time zones. Fascinatingly, Russia's total area is larger than Pluto!
As a tourist, Russia has so much to offer. The Trans-Siberian railway takes you through the whole span of continental Russia, from Moscow to Vladivostok, which you must experience at least once in your lifetime!
Russian Siberia is a vast untouched land, with dense forests, tundra, the world's coldest town of Oymyakon, and the world's deepest lake: Lake Baikal.
Besides that, Russia is an architectural geek's fantasy! You wouldn't find the intricately designed Orthodox churches, like the St Basil's Cathedral anywhere else in the world.
Of course, New York has its own rich culture, cathedral, and notorious art scene; however, there are sides to Russia that make it well worth visiting!
Russia is not just medieval churches, though. Architecture enthusiasts throng to Russia to study the Constructivist and Brutalist architecture that was so popular during Soviet rule.
But unfortunately, English is not widely spoken in Russia or any of the former Soviet bloc. Only about 5 percent of Russians speak English.
You might find a few young people who speak basic English, but that is not true for most people you will interact with, such as cab drivers, police officers, or waiters.
And to add insult to injury, Cyrillic is a completely different script to the Latin script we use in English. Even ordering water, using public transport, or finding an available restaurant will be challenging if you don't familiarize yourself with the language.
So it's wise to learn Russian if you don't want to look like a total fool during your time there.
Russia is home to a rich literary and cultural history. Some of the greatest ballet dancers and maestros of the 19th and 20th century, like Rudolf Nureyev, have hailed from Russia.
Many American ballet troupes, such as the Boston Ballet, perform Russian masterpieces like the Swan Lake.
There are only a few languages that can pride themselves on having produced great works of literature. Russian is one of them.
The Russian language boasts a rich literary tradition, spanning back to Tzarist Russia. Masterpieces like Anna Karenina, War, and Peace, The Brothers Karamov are best read in Russian.
Furthermore, since the cold war, Russia and the US have been besting each other on the science and technology front. And that pursuit of scientific advancement still lingers even after the fall of the USSR.
If you're looking to go to a Russian university for higher studies, it goes without saying that learning Russian is necessary.
Before the USSR fell, it was one of the two global superpowers along with the States. Russia still ranks among the world's top ten economies, and its adjoining resource-rich Central Asian states are rapidly drawing in investment from the Western world.
Kazakhstan - which has Russian as a co-official language - has huge petroleum reserves of particular interest to oil companies looking to diversify from the Middle East.
The other Central Asian states, Baltic states, and Ukraine are also opening up to the Western world after decades of communist regimes. As we mentioned, English still isn't big there, so you must learn to speak Russian.
If you're an entrepreneur in Philadelphia, LA, or elsewhere looking to enter the untapped markets of the former USSR or a petrochemical engineer sent on a delegation to Kazakhstan, learning how to speak Russian will make life much easier for you.
Challenges With Learning Russian
Russian and English do not share many similarities even though they stem from the same Indo-European language family.
English lies in the Germanic family while Russian lies in the Slavic family.
Firstly, the two languages use different scripts; although some of the Russian symbols may seem familiar to you, they are pronounced very differently!
Initially, a qualified Russian teacher would get students familiarized with the Cyrillic script.
It is very similar to the Greek script, sharing numerous alphabets (though shaped slightly different).
If you've studied math in high school, you wouldn't have much trouble identifying the Л (lambda) and the Ф (phi) in your Russian classes.
However, a few sounds are unique to Russian, like "ж," which you can master with a little practice with your teacher's help.
Similar to French, Russian phonetics can be hard to perfect. But it's a great language for people who like challenges. The more chance for you to try new phonetics in your Russian classes!
The hardest part about learning Russian is its grammar. Russian uses aspectual verb systems - each verb has a perfective and imperfective form.
This means that there is no way to predict which form to use. You'll need to perfect it using trial and error.
Besides that, Russian uses a lot of different case ending and declensions like German. This is particularly hard for English speakers who aren't used to a lot of case endings.
The silver lining to learning the various angles to Russian is the feeling of fulfillment that comes with it!
Learning Russian will take you out of your comfort zone, something French or Spanish don't do.
Furthermore, when you speak a language as complex as Russian, it will make you actively think about what you're saying and how it applies to the context of your conversation!
Russian Lessons Near You In LA
If you're still unsure whether Russian will be a useful language to learn, let us remind you, Russian was the internet's second most popular language and has remained in that position since then!
If that isn't enough to convince you, just think about the different kinds of people you can communicate with and the various experiences you would be opening doors to!
There's no need to search for "Russian lessons near me" on Craigslist and Yahoo anymore. Register with Superprof and get personalized Russian lessons in LA from the comfort of your home!