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So you want to learn Russian?

Learn Russian

Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

– Winston Churchill


The above quote is an extraction of the full statement made by Winston Churchill during a radio broadcast in October of 1939. The full quote was:


"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."


These words probably ring most true to anyone looking to learn Russian.


The Russian language belongs to the Slavic language family, and is spoken in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and several other countries that formerly belonged to the Soviet Union. With more than 145 million native speakers, and 225 total speakers, Russian is one of the most commonly spoken languages on the planet.


That means that there are over 80 million non-native speakers of Russian. So who are they? Well, some are ethnic Russian diaspora. These might be the children of Russian immigrants in Europe or the United States. A large portion, however, is comprised of people who want to learn Russian.


So why would someone want to learn Russian? Certainly it is a rich and beautiful language, but it is very complex. The Russian Cyrillic alphabet has 33 letters, and can be daunting for a new person.


In reality, there are a number of reasons why someone would want to learn Russian:


  • Business opportunities
  • Educational reasons
  • Cultural reasons
  • Romance


Business opportunities: The Russian economy is one of the largest in the world. Depending on the current exchange rate, and whether one is looking at nominal or PPP GDPs, it ranges from six to eighth, globally.

Educational reasons: Across the former Soviet Bloc, the Middle East and parts of Northern Africa, there a number of university students who chose to study in Russia and want to learn Russian for that reason. (There are also university students from the United States and Europe, but to a much lesser extent.)

Cultural reasons: For a variety of reasons—whether it be love of ballet, literature or the arts, there are a number of people who chose to learn Russian simply out of love of the Russian culture.

Romance: Of course, love of the Russian culture is one thing, but there may be love for a Russian person. Across all languages, there are many reasons why someone might find a romantic reason to learn Russian.


Of course, the challenge is all in how to learn Russian. That’s a story for another post. If you’re curious, you can check out our posts below to learn more.