First of all: Russian Is One Of The World’s Most Spoken Languages
On the list of the most widely spoken languages globally, Russian comes eighth. It’s spoken in Russia, of course, but also in Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Israel. It’s also a popular second language for much of Eastern Europe because of Russia’s lasting political influence.
Second Reason: Learning Russian Is A Challenge
In this way, Russian lives up to its hype. It’s one of the hardest languages for English & Latin speakers to learn, and has a complex grammatical structure. And the Cyrillic alphabet seems so foreign that it’s enough to put some people off learning the language — but it’s actually not nearly as scary as it looks. When you do learn it, you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment from the fact that you can read another alphabet! Getting to grips with its idiosyncrasies means leaving what is familiar behind and throwing yourself into the unknown. Yes, it’s scary at first, but you’ll feel amazing once you start speaking sentences.
(But) Learning Russian Is Easier Than You Think, When I say “you,” I mean anyone who’s never attempted to learn Russian. There are two challenges to learning Russian, and the Cyrillic alphabet isn’t one of them — with a little dedication, learning those 33 letters is a breeze. (Most of the shapes of letters are the same or similar, so you’ll just need to readjust how your brain associates letters with certain sounds.) The difficulties lie instead with a couple of grammatical rules, namely the declensions and the perfective and imperfective forms of the verbs. Sounds like nonsense now, but it’ll make sense later.
Third Reason: Russian Is A Beautiful Language
This is admittedly a rather subjective statement, but has a nugget of scientific truth: Most people find languages with a rich variety of vowels appealing. Italian, for example, has the vowels A, E, I, O, U and characteristic diphthongs. This is one reason why Italian sounds so melodic to foreigners. Russian is the same way — even if it doesn’t get much credit for it. As a bonus, this Slavic language also has an astounding wealth of consonants, creating a captivating musical quality. Just listen to the Red Army Choir for a rich example. I’m no singer, but when speaking Russian, I feel as though I can actually carry a tune!
Fourth Reason: Russian Is Part Of A Larger Family
As soon as you learn a bit of Russian, a whole range of other languages is suddenly accessible to you. Russian is a member of the Indo-European language family, and specifically the Slavic family. Even with just a beginner’s grasp of Russian, you can quickly understand the other Slavic languages.
There are three subfamilies:
- the East Slavic languages, which all use the Cyrillic alphabet (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian)
- the South Slavic languages, which either use the Cyrillic (Bulgarian, Macedonian) or Latin (Croatian, Slovenian) alphabets
- the West Slavic languages, which use a modified Latin alphabet (Polish, Czech, Slovak)
Fifth Reason: Knowing the Russian Language Improves Your Employment Opportunities
Since 2000, Russia has been in the process of positioning itself as a major economic force. The birth of the new Russian middle class has led many to travel abroad, making a significant mark in the global tourism industry. If you work in tourism, knowing how to speak Russian is definitely something to put on your CV.
Regarding international affairs, the events in Ukraine in 2014 proved that Russia is trying to recuperate its position as a geopolitical leader along with the USA, the EU, and other powers. Russia is currently a member of G20, BRICS, the European Council, The United Nations, UNESCO and the World Trade Organization. This has made Russian a language that is commonly used in diplomatic exchanges.
Another aspect which has helped 21st century Russia become what it is today was the economic boom the country experienced at the beginning of the millennium. As a consequence, many companies are looking for qualified international workers who master Russian. Moreover, because many directors and CEOs of corporations speak little to no English, Russian companies are in an increasing need of people who master both English and Russian to become their translators.
Having the opportunity of including on your CV that you master Russian will always make you stand out, even if the position you’re applying for doesn’t require you to speak Russian or any other languages. For an employer, being able to immerse yourself in and continue to learn a language which is considered to be difficult to learn will demonstrate dedication, recursion and perseverance (such qualities are highly sought in candidates). In short, being able to speak Russian speaks about your intellect.
Sixth Reason: Russia has a Fascinating Culture
A big part of Russian culture can be discovered through its literature and language. What literature lover wouldn’t like to read Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Pushkin in its original version? The Russian language has an enormous amount of expressions you can’t find in English. I noticed that English sometimes needed to use six words to express a concept, while Russian only needed two or three. Although some might think of it as having been simplified, that is not the case. Separating functional words such as articles, verbs, auxiliaries, connecting verbs and some prepositions allows the author to narrate the story even better as it leaves more space for more significant words.
Another way its culture is manifested is through music. From traditional Russian music to the more contemporary version of the Red Army Choir and romantic music, Russians have always been able to mark their culture in music. However, Russian culture isn’t limited to classics! It has become modernized and has mixed with global culture all while remaining true to its roots.
After all, Is Russian Useful for Business?
So, should Russian be high up the list of languages to speak or learn as a business? Just how useful or important is Russian?
Russian has been described as an ‘extremely politically and culturally relevant language’.
Because of the power and influence of the Russian Federation, the language is playing a key role in some of humankind’s most groundbreaking advances.
“Learning Russian has been the single most difficult aspect of my training.”
The words of none other than astronaut Major Tim Peake. Interestingly, a working knowledge of Russian is essential for any aspiring cosmonaut — the systems of the International Space System are in both Russian and English.
Russian is a language of e-commerce and online business — meaning digital marketing opportunities are boundless.
As many as 7 years ago, Russia became the biggest country in Europe in terms of unique online Internet users. The Runet – the Russian-speaking community on the Internet – numbers over 108,772,470 (76.4% of the population) according to the CIA Factbook. Not to be sniffed at.
Not only that, but Russian people want — and in many cases need (as we explain later) — to read content in their own language. If your business isn’t providing them this, you may well be missing out. As of March 2018, Russian accounts for 6.5% of Internet content – again, the second most popular, with German at 5.9%. There’s a gap in the market for content in Russian.
Russia’s economic (and political) power is indisputable — and here are the facts to prove it.
- A report by the British Council, Languages for the future, makes clear the importance of Russian, ranking in its “top 10 most important languages to the UK”.
- Estimates suggest that Russian accounts for over $1,031bn and 3.1% of global GDP.
- Russia is the 11th largest economy in the world, according to the IMF (2019).
- A recent World Bank report notes that…
- Russia to grow between 1.6 and 1.8 percent in 2020–2021
- Poverty to decline modestly
- A typical Russian citizen was 1.8 times wealthier in 2017 than in 2000.
- A hugely resource-rich country, Russia’s sub-soil wealth (oil, gas, coal and minerals) is estimated to be $75 trillion.
- Russia has been listed as the 12th most innovative economy.
There is a Russian proverb: “It is better to see once than to hear a hundred times” (Лучше один раз увидеть, чем сто раз услышать). So I will spare you my other 90 reasons to learn Russian and let you discover this marvelous, mysterious language for yourself!
- Babbel Magazine’s Post
- MosaLingua’s Post
- FluentU Blog Russian Archive
- Alexika Blog 2020 Archive