Russian isn’t that hard to learn, as long as you have good reasons or incentives to learn it. So, why learn Russian? In the list you’ll find below, I’ll give you 7 reasons for learning the Russian language. And once you’ve decided to make it your next language goal, read our article about how to learn Russian quickly and easily.
7 Reasons for Learning the Russian Language
Ah! Russia. The Red Army Choir, the Red Square, vodka, a cryptic alphabet and beautiful women. Those are just a few things that come to mind when I think of Russia and the Russian language. Russia definitely has soul, albeit somewhat mysterious to foreigners. But how can you enter this interesting, foreign world and push your knowledge beyond these stereotypes? By learning the Russian language! Here are just a few reasons to learn Russian:
1. It’s one of the most spoken languages in the world
The first of my reasons for learning the Russian language? More than 260 million people around the world speak it. Not only is it the official language of Russia, but it has official status in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It’s also spoken regularly in Israel, the Baltics, China, Ukraine, Armenia and even the United States. It’s sometimes considered the most spoken language in Europe, and, according to Ethnologue, Russian is the 8th most spoken language in the world.
Being a Slavic language, the Russian language has many similarities to languages such as Polish, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Czech. (Oh, and there are more similarities between English and Russian than you’d think! It is estimated that there are around 850,000 Russian speakers in the United States alone.) In former Soviet Bloc countries, people who were in their 20s when the USSR dissolved have largely retained their Russian. Despite the cultural hostility the language still sometimes faces, it remains a sort of lingua franca in eastern Europe.
2. Knowing the Russian language improves employment prospects
Since the beginning of the new millennium, Russia has been (re)positioning itself as a major global economic force. The emergence of a new Russian middle class has led many Russians to travel abroad, marking the tourism industry. If you work in tourism, knowing how to speak Russian is definitely something to put on your CV.
When it comes to international affairs, the events in Ukraine in 2014 proved that Russia is trying to reclaim its position as a geopolitical leader alongside the US, the EU, and others. Russia is currently a member of the G20, the European Council, the United Nations, UNESCO and the World Trade Organization. Russian has once again become a language commonly heard during diplomatic exchanges.
Another aspect that helped shape 21st century Russia was an economic boom at the turn of the century. This has led to more and more companies seeking qualified employees who can speak and write in Russian. Conversely, due to the fact that CEOs and older members of Russian corporations speak little English, Russian companies have needed more and more qualified English speakers and translators.
Having Russian mastery on your resume makes you stand out, even if the position you’re applying for doesn’t require it. Actually, this is the case with any foreign language, but for Russian in particular. Why? To an employer, being able to dive into and follow through with a language as difficult as Russian shows serious dedication, resourcefulness and perseverance – all of which are highly sought after qualities in applicants.
3. Russia has a fascinating culture
You can learn a lot about Russian culture through its literature and language. What bookworm wouldn’t love to be able to read Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Pushkin in the language they actually wrote in? Learning Russian will allow you to understand the complexity of this culture. The Russian language has many nuances lacking in English. For example, when I was studying Russian I read The Little Prince. I noticed that English sometimes needed six words to express a concept, while two or three sufficed in Russian. While that may seem like an oversimplification, it isn’t. The sparsity of function words – articles, “helper” verbs, connectors, and some prepositions – leaves more room for meaningful words.
Russian music is another way the culture manifests itself. From traditional music to the slightly more contemporary Red Army Choir and the Romantic music movement, music has always played a large role in Russian identity. However, Russian culture isn’t limited to the classics! It has modernized and mixed with the global culture, all while remaining true to its roots. Personally, I like Russian TV shows, Russian movies, modern Russian rock and rap music, and especially the alternative culture currently developing in St. Petersburg.
It is very interesting for me to see how people in my generation, who were born around the time that the Berlin Wall came down, have grown up, and how they view the future and the past. Speaking their language allows you to understand them and their culture in a way that is impossible in English.
4. Experience the real Russia
After a few trips to Russia and meeting other tourists, I know one thing for sure. Once you learn Russian, the way you experience travel to Russian-speaking countries will never be the same.
True, Russians aren’t know for their smile, and some are wary of foreigners. To make things worse, few speak English. Therefore, what happens is that tourists have limited communication with Russians due to this language barrier. And that often gives them a negative impression of their trip. However, I promise that once you can have a conversation in Russian, making friends is much easier. It’s as if a veil is lifted when you know even a little bit of the language. Russians instantly become welcoming and friendly when you make an effort to communicate.
Being able to communicate in the Russian language opens up more interesting lodging options than expensive and impersonal hotels. Couchsurfing is one great idea, because you can meet Russians and practice your language skills for cheap. But there are also other options, like Airbnb, a site where you can find individual rooms (with local hosts) and apartments for short-term rental. They are very affordable; sometimes you can find rooms as cheap as $30 a night. These are technically accommodation websites, but they also serve as ways to make friends and find Russian conversation partners.
Another advantage of knowing the language is that you’ll avoid tourist traps. When studying in Russia, I learned that the better you speak Russian with your cab driver, the lower your fare. Being able to speak the langue of your destination changes the locals’ attitude towards you. You’re no longer a tourist, but a person interested in the language and culture. Once you learn Russian, you will never look at the country in the same light.
5. Broaden your social circle and make new friends
Speaking another language will give you a huge advantage when it comes to making new friends and contacts. Knowing the Russian language lets you sympathize with the people who speak it – both Russian speakers in Russia and in your own city. You might also establish professional relationships or forge new friendships. Making Russian-speaking friends is one of the best ways to learn Russian idiomatic expressions and slang!
In trying to learn Russian, you will encounter people who share the love of Russian that you’ll come to have. Perhaps Russians, but also others who, like you, are learning or adopting the language. If you already have a friend or significant other who speaks Russian, take full advantage of your situation. It’s an incredibly useful way to learn and practice the language and may help you understand them more fully. I won’t hide the fact that this was a motivation for me at one point!
6. Learn something new, useful and different
Learning Russian can help you understand useful concepts for studying other languages. It will also help you understand your own language better! Taking on the task of learning Russian will profoundly change how you perceive language and understand the world around you. If you’re a student, now is a great time to make the decision to start learning Russian!
You definitely don’t need to pursue formal Russian studies to learn the language – just ask the people who use our Learn Russian app! However, choosing to study Russian for 3 years at university completely changed my life. When taken seriously, this language can give you access to a number of high-paying jobs, such as a Russian teacher, an English teacher for Russian students, or a translator or interpreter. The United States government pays good money for Russian translators, and as a critical language, the government offers fully funded study abroad programs to help students learn Russian. Specialization in this language brings with it many benefits, both in your professional and personal life.
7. Or, learn the Russian language… just because you want to!
This is the last reason I have for learning Russian, but probably the most important one. You’ve made it this far, so you have to admit that learning Russian has piqued your interest. The number of speakers or the career opportunities a language affords shouldn’t be your sole reason for learning it. Passion and interest are the most important things that will help you learn a language.
- you’d love to be able to read Russian literature
- you get emotional when you listen to Russian music
- your significant other is Russian
- you’ve always dreamed of traveling to Moscow
- or if you just love how the language sounds…
…you already have the perfect reason for learning Russian. You already have the right incentives to learn Russian, and they will motivate you in a way others cannot.
So, follow your heart. Imagine that you’re walking through the streets of St. Petersburg on a winter evening, or in the Red Square covered in snow, talking with your Russian peers in Russian about subjects that interest you. If this is a dream of yours, stop putting it off, and start learning Russian!
What do you think of our 7 reasons to learn Russian? Did we cover your own motivations? If Russian is a language you’re interested in (and now I’m sure you’re convinced that you should learn it), download the MosaLingua app for learning Russian! Also, be sure to check out our list of our favorite online resources to learn Russian.
About the Author: Tom is in love with learning languages, especially Russian. He is the creator of the French website, lerussefacile.com, where he shares tips for people interested in learning Russian.