In this article, I'll be giving tips for those who are just beginning to learn Russian. What to do, what not to do, and how to get started. Depending on your mood, you might want to dive right into speaking Russian, or you might prefer to tackle the Russian alphabet (called Cyrillic) first. Both approaches are valid. If you prefer to speak right from the get-go, that's awesome. And don't let any anonymous know-it-all on some language forum convince you that you have to learn to read Cyrillic first. You don't. You can....but it's not a must. After all, you'd been speaking English for years before you ever learned to read so much as a single letter in English.
Let's say you prefer speaking first. Okay, then....how to go about it? Private lessons? A course at a local community college? Buy one of the big name language programs? Perhaps. But each of those is a big investment. Better to find something cheaper -- even free -- to get started and build your confidence. For speaking, there's no better podcast out there right now than Russian Made Easy. You can get it from the Russian Made Easy site directly. Or on iTunes.
Why that particular podcast? Because they do everything correctly. They use multiple native speakers, so you can hear the slight variations in how male and female native speakers pronounce things. They let you aborb the meaning of words naturally, from context. There's no need for memorizing at all. You'll simply learn, as easily as you learned English. Best of all is how they let you discover the patterns behind Russian grammar. That's all grammar is, after all, is patterns. No rules to learn, no charts to memorize. They help you uncover the patterns and youll soon find yourself creating your own, grammatically correct Russian phrases. It's a really effective podcast.
And for those who prefer to learn to read the Cyrillic alphabet first? Again, you'll want someone who show's you things in context...a program that lets you discover on your own how each Russian letter is pronounced. And for that, I have another free recommendation. This one is called, aptly enough, Russian Alphabet Mastery (Learn Cyrillic in 3 hours).
The great thing about the app is that, right from the start, you're sounding out actual Russian signs. Street signs, posters, billboards, menus, and so on. With each new letter you learn, a whole new set of signs are shown that you can sound out and make sense of. It's fun and extremely encouraging, knowing that you're reading things right there on the streets of Moscow. As you go through the app, be sure to keep paper and pencil handy and jot the letter s down as you learn each one. Try to play with them, using them to sound out English words and names. The more you play with them, the more comfortable you'll become.
So go download one of these programs and start learning Russian. You'll be amazed how easy it really is.