The Most Useful Eastern European Language To Learn As A Traveller
Europe is such a multilingual continent, so I completely understand how difficult it might be to pick the right language to learn. I’ve already explained to you what the best European language to learn is and the best language to learn to travel Europe. Let’s now have a look at Eastern Europe. This article will give you a detailed insight into the most useful Eastern European language to learn as a traveller.
What Is The Most Useful Eastern European Language To Learn?
The most useful Eastern European language to learn is Russian. Many people living in Eastern Europe had to learn Russian back in the Communist regime in the 1960s. As a result, you’ll definitely meet people speaking Russian in countries like Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Hungary. Also, Russian is still a popular second foreign language for students to learn at school. They can mostly choose between Russian and German, and many of them go for Russian. That’s why you’ll be able to communicate in Russian in most Eastern European countries.
Why Is Russian The Most Useful Eastern European Language To Learn?
Russian is the most useful Eastern European language to learn because it is widely spoken in Eastern Europe. All Central and Eastern European countries were part of the so-called Eastern Bloc or a Soviet Bloc. It existed during the Cold War (1947 – 1991), and all these countries were influenced by the Soviet Union and strict communist regime. As part of the regime, people had to learn Russian at school. That is why many people nowadays speak Russian in Eastern and Central Europe.
Russian is still a popular language to learn at high school. Many people choose it as their second foreign language, after English. These are the reasons why Russian is the most useful Eastern European language to learn.
In Which European Countries Can You Speak Russian?
Here is a list of European countries in which you’ll be able to speak Russian:
- Czech Republic
Is Russian Difficult To Learn?
If your native language is English or German, then Russian is difficult to learn. English and German belong to the Germanic language family and have a completely different structure than Russian. If your native language is from the Italic language group (Spanish, Italian, French), it will also be challenging for you to learn Russian.
However, if your native language is a Slavic language, Russian will be very easy for you to learn. This is because Russian also belongs to the Slavic language family. So you’ll find many similarities between your native language and Russian.
For instance, I am Slovakian, and my native language is Slovak, a Slavic language. So for me, Russian is very easy to learn. I can even understand it a little bit, even if I never learned it.
My Experience Seeing English & German Speakers Learning Russian
When I was at the university, my English and German-speaking friends were all complaining about the Russian language. Because it was difficult for them to learn. I picked Spanish back during my University studies with another friend, and it was so funny. Once we had language classes, everybody heading to a Russian class was stressed out. In contrast, all Spanish learners were excited to finally have a Spanish class.
How To Learn The Russian Alphabet?
One of the things that might surprise you right at the beginning of your Russian learning journey is that Russian uses a different alphabet than other European languages. It is called Russian Azbuka and comes from the Cyrillic script from the Old Church Slavonic language. The famous monks invented the Cyrillic script, brothers from Thessaloniki (Greece), Cyril and Methodius. They also translated the Bible and wanted to spread Christianity further to Central and Eastern Europe.
The Cyrillic alphabet has more letters than the English alphabet. It has 33 letters in total (7 more than English).
Quick Step-By-Step Guide To Learning Russian Alphabet
Let’s have a look at how to learn the Cyrillic alphabet successfully.
- Start with the easy letters: A, E, K, M, O, and T. These letters are the same as in English and sound the same way.
- Move on to the letters easy to pronounce: Б, Г, Д, Ш, З, Ф. These are a few examples of letters that have a very similar pronunciation as in English. So learn these letters and try to associate them with similar English sounds.
- Study the most challenging letters: B, H, P, C, Y, and X. You may think these letters will be easy; they look the same as English. But I am to slightly disappoint you, my friend. Even though they look the same, these are actually completely different letters in Russian.
- Lastly, have a look at the weird Russian letters: Ё, Ж, Й, Щ, Ц, Я, Ь, Ъ, and Ы. These all sound and are written differently in English.
Write as much as you can. Practice writing each letter until you don’t remember it. When writing, don’t forget to simultaneously pronounce each letter. You’ll kill two birds with one stone. Just create an environment for yourself to practice writing and listening skills at the same time.
I recommend you also get the Russian Alphabet Made Easy workbook. It will guide you throughout the entire process of learning the Cyrillic alphabet. It gives you space to practice writing each Russian letter and explains to you how to pronounce it. What I love about the book is that it also comes with audio. Listening to the pronunciation of letters simultaneously as you write them is crucial for learning the Russian alphabet. This book allows you to listen to the pronunciation, which is amazing.
How Long Does It Take To Learn The Russian Alphabet?
It generally takes around a month to learn the Russian alphabet. Take it easy and spend at least 15 minutes a day practicing and pronouncing the letters. But don’t be in a rush. The Russian alphabet is the foundation of the language. So make sure you understand it and learn it well.
The more you practice writing and pronouncing each letter, the sooner you’ll master the Russian alphabet. If you listen to the pronunciation of each letter, it will make the process even faster.
What To Learn Once You Master Russian Alphabet?
Once you master the Russian alphabet, it’s time to get round to learning the basics. Check out my article about what to learn in a new language. It gives you ideas for basic vocabulary and grammar to learn in a language, including Russian. Take it easy and make the process fun.
Also, read about the best language learning method for adults, where I walk you step-by-step through the process of how to learn a language. It will help you a lot on your Russian learning journey.
Incorporate More Resources
When you learn the basics, it’ll be time to incorporate more resources into your language learning process. Start listening to a podcast in Russian. Listening is one of the crucial language skills that I recommend you practice, especially at the beginning of your Russian learning journey. It will help you to better understand the language and break any barriers you might have when further learning the language. Read my article about the best language learning podcasts to learn how to work and learn languages with a podcast. You need to have the transcript to learn Russian with them. Also, check out the 6 best Russian audiobooks for beginners that will make you more confident in the language.
Start Reading In Russian
After, start reading a book in Russian. I recommend the 101 Conversations in Simple Russian. This book uses simple and everyday vocabulary in real-life conversations. It will help you to understand the basics and structure of the language once you read. If you need more inspiration for books, check out my article about the best foreign language books.
Read Russian Magazines
Russian language magazines are another great resource for your learning journey. With language magazines, you can do fun activities such as creating flashcards, cutting images, and doing vocabulary walls or playing pexeso with it. Russian magazines will also give you a general understanding of Russian culture, traditions, events, and insights into events and sports. If you want to learn more about working with language magazines, read my article about the best foreign language magazines.
Watch You Favourite Movie In Russian
Incorporate some audiovisuals into your learning process. For example, watch the news, your favourite series, or a movie in Russian. You can start with subtitles, and after, watch it even without subtitles.
My Experience Traveling In Eastern Europe Without Russian
Russian is the most useful Eastern European language to learn. Now you know the reasons why. You also know how to get started with the Russian alphabet and boost your Russian skills after learning the basics.
If you want to travel Eastern or even Central Europe, the Russian language will be your biggest asset. It will get you closer to the locals, their traditions, and their culture. You’ll have a wonderful travel experience if you speak at least a little bit of Russian.
What I highly recommend is to learn at least the Russian alphabet and the basics. In countries such as Ukraine or Bulgaria, all signs at the train stations or public premises are often written in the Cyrillic alphabet. I was in Ukraine, and at that time, I didn’t know a single Russian word, nor did I understand the alphabet.
And I was literally lost at the train station because all the signs were in the Russian alphabet and nobody spoke English at the counter. I needed to book a train ticket to Kyjiv because I missed my previous train. And it was so hard simply because I didn’t speak Russian and nobody else spoke English. So you see how beneficial it will be for you to speak at least a few words of Russian when visiting Eastern European countries.
I wish you a happy learning. Don’t worry, there is no language in the world you can’t learn. You’ll make it with Russian for sure.
Interested In Learning More European Languages?
If you’re interested in learning more or another European language, check out my article about the best European language to learn in general. Go to my language blog for inspiration for language learning. You’ll learn how you can learn vocabulary fast and how to set up achievable language learning goals.
If you’re interested in reading about language families and which languages are the best to learn together, read more in my separate article.
Get My Language Travel Notebook For Free
In the end, I have a present for you to make your Russian learning more effective. Get my language travel notebook for free. It will help you to learn Russian vocabulary and keep track of new words you want to remember. It will also help you to keep your motivation and set achievable Russian learning goals. So try it now for free: