Numerous scientific studies have been conducted to find out what is the human being's concentration capacity. Some have found it to be a few minutes, others about an hour, but all agree that this time of maximum concentration is rare and precious.
What this makes us understand is that these moments of learning must be used preciously and that it will be necessary to privilege quality over quantity of learning. This means that attempting to cram Russian grammar for 4 hours at a time will probably not produce the same effects as more spaced out learning.
The key to success is always to focus on effective methods and not to believe that the more time you spend looking at your books the faster you will progress.
Let's take a look at how to save time and have more efficiency when learning Russian.
How Long Does It Take to Learn a Foreign Language?
How you arrive at a good level in a foreign language depends on several criteria. Here they are.
What Level Should You Aim For?
The first evaluation criterion is what level you would like to reach.
Given your expectations, what level is acceptable for you to reach? Here, we are talking about learning a language, but the mastery of certain more field-specific language elements can take even more time.
Set yourself an objective in terms of what level you hope to arrive at, one that corresponds to your needs (for example objectives that correspond to your wishes, such as those wishing to work in Saint Petersburg, to go on a linguistic stay in Moscow or any other place in Russia).
Fluent Russian depends on what you are aiming for. For some, it will be the wish to hold a discussion without seeming to look for words or to understand what an interlocutor is saying without having the right words to respond. For others, the mastery of Russian will mean the possibility of having debates or long arguments on more technical subjects such as politics, international relations, or the economy.
Thus, since our objectives are not the same and learning faculties vary from one person to another, it is difficult to estimate a precise duration that is equivalent for all the students in the world.
How Long Should You Set Aside Per Day?
Learning a new language inevitably means rigor and daily work. Spending 20 minutes a day on your learning will mean more results than working the same amount of time one day of the week only.
Everyone has obligations, and the time allotted to learning Russian on your own is valuable. But while we often hear our friends or the people around us complaining about not having enough time to play sports for example, let's take a real look at our daily schedules and determine when it would be possible to take some time for Russian learning.
- In public transportation going to or coming back from work?
- During our lunch break?
- In the toilet?
And why not halve your time on Facebook to focus on Dostoevsky's language instead? You've probably understood now that it is possible to find free time if you change up your habits a bit.
The Particularities of Tolstoy's Language Can Make Learning It A Bit Longer
However, speaking correct Russian and mastering its subtleties may take longer than other languages closer to English.
Indeed, language learning specialists such as Mosalingua classify Russian as the third most difficult language to learn.
According to this ranking, only learning Arabic or learning Chinese would be more complex than learning Russian. Let us keep in mind, however, that this ranking, though based on objective elements and concrete indicators, is only a global indication which does not represent an absolute truth for each learner.
Russian is obviously a complex language to master: that's for sure.
But don't forget one of its great advantages is that it opens doors to different languages in the same family.
Russian sits within the East Slavic branch of the Slavic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. The closest relatives of Russian are Ukrainian and Belarussian, which you will be able to understand on a basic level after learning Russian.
Knowing Russian will make it easier for you to speak any other Slavic language.
For the learner, it will be necessary to become familiar with the Russian alphabet (Cyrillic alphabet), which is very different from the Latin alphabet and writing as we know it. We will need to redouble our efforts as to master the declensions, the tonic accents, or oral pronunciation, which are all difficult and whose phonetics is not always obvious.
Did you know that there are plenty of loan words from Italian, French or German so you have an advantage if you know any of these languages already? Admittedly those loan words might look a bit archaic as they made their way into the Russian language in the 18th and 19th centuries, such as the word
Some linguists of the US State Department have studied language learning and classified languages into five distinct groups, from the easiest to the most complex.
Russian fits in group 4, with a learning estimate of 1100 hours (roundabout 18 months of learning at 2 hours a day).
This survey is based on a large number of learners and the results are only average. In addition, the required level here is very high, since we are talking about 1100 hours to reach a level close to or even equivalent to speaking Russian like one's mother tongue!
Keep in mind that dedicating more time to your studies will speed up your learning, but it isn’t going to happen in a week's time. It is still going to take months, if not years, for you to start to feel comfortable reading and listening to Russian, and probably longer than that until you will speak it easily.
Imposing Oneself a Rigorous Schedule In Order to Progress Rapidly and Efficiently
It may make you feel better to hear 1100 hours, but, don't be fooled, learning a foreign language and speaking it naturally requires time - but above all motivation and discipline in learning.
In other words, before learning the Russian language, you may also have to learn to learn. As we've already said, to progress in the Russian language requires imposing daily work times (if possible learning Russian every day at the same time to create one's own learning routine) and especially a regular rhythm: ideally every day.
The pomodoros method recommends learning for 25 minutes and then taking a break of 5 minutes. Learning during two or three 25-minute periods every day has been proved to be an effective way to ace Russian as quickly as possible.
But, again, this must be reconcilable with one's own schedule and one must be aware of one's own ability to concentrate. When the brain requires rest, it is important to take a break and not to solicit more, which would mean that the learning would become mediocre or unnecessary.
Some Methods in Order to Progress More Quickly
A Private Tutor
If you have the motivation and desire to progress quickly in Russian, then why not take a Russian lesson with a private tutor to speed up the process?
Why not just hire a private tutor (Russian course in New York City)?
First, the private tutor will help you to ensure you are using a good learning method that will prove successful with you in the long run.
A Russian tutor will also have a fresh look at your learning and will deepen certain concepts you have learned on your own.
Having a private tutor is also a great way to take quality Russian language courses and grammar lessons, which learners tend to neglect when learning Russian on their own.
An experienced tutor will also be able to help you in a crucial way when it comes to pronouncing certain complex Russian words.
Know that with Superprof, most Russian tutors offer the first Russian course for free in order to test their proposed method and ensure that it corresponds to what the learner is looking for.
Many teaching platforms such as Babbel offer interactive training to improve someone's language skills. Babbel is a good example of learning on one's own while also using an effective method that has already proven to be effective when learning Italian, Spanish, German or French.
Being able to converse with a native speaker in person or via a webcam will also significantly improve your language skills. It is a tool people often forget about but a proven effective way to quickly graduate from a beginner level to an intermediate level or an advanced level. It also gives the student access to Russian culture for those wishing to combine linguistics and local knowledge of the country.
Our last advice is to indulge in your passion by adding Russian to your film list? For moviegoers, watching a Russian film or a film with Russian subtitles can be effective.
- There is no one systematic answer regarding how long it takes to learn Russian, which depends on far too many criteria, such as the learning capacity of the student, the time that will be spent on the learning, or the methods which will be used.
- It also depends on what level you are hoping to reach. If for some to speak Russian will mean being able to speak fearlessly of world geopolitics with a native, others will probably not have the same wishes and will seek a level that allows them to interact with a native but which will be more restrictive on specialized topics.
- Nevertheless, to reduce learning time, some things can be done. Make sure to work for short periods but on a regular basis rather than one 2 hour session every week. You will progress faster with speaking and what you learn will be anchored to your long-term memory more easily. We recommend reading articles on the forgetting curve and related learning methodologies. It's an effective way to learn how to learn!
- Taking group courses or individual courses, communicating regularly with a Russian speaker, or using e-learning platforms are all possibilities that will reduce your language learning time and have you speaking Russian faster. This will not replace motivation, which remains the most valuable thing when it comes to learning!
Удачи (Good luck!)