Main difficulties of studying Russian for foreign people

For non-Russian people, learning the Russian language takes a lot of efforts and requires hard work. Many English-speaking people can learn German or French with no problem, but studying Russian is a difficult matter for them. Some people give up and confess that they will never be able to master Russian. However, I know many people who needed Russian desperately for their jobs and were able to master the Russian language within a year. They speak Russian correctly and managed to overcome the difficulties of the language.

These difficulties arise because the structure of the language is different. Words in Russian change constantly, you have to add endings or suffixes, change the stress to express the right meaning of the sentence as the language is based on inflection.

If foreign students concentrate on speaking properly in terms of grammar, the tempo of their speech slows down considerably. On the other hand, making a mistake with word ending often leads to loss of the meaning.

Pronunciation also causes much trouble. For example, it is hard for English-speaking people to soften consonants and to pronounce stressed and unstressed vowels differently, according to the rules of the Russian language.

Teaching such a complex language requires innovative approach. Many foreign people who took classes of Russian said that the teacher overloaded them with grammar. They had to study complex grammar constructions without applying them into practice. Also, there is another extreme. Some young ladies lacking qualification teach Russian in a strange way – their base their lessons only on chatting with foreign students. Meanwhile, they have neither program of classes nor the ability to explain grammar rules and pronunciation.

I am ready answer any questions you have about the Russian language (please write me to If you are in Moscow or plan to come here, you are welcome to have individual lessons of Russian with me (at your place, not expensive).

I am enclosing some synopses of Russian course you can use in your studies.

Intensive course – “Survival Russian” for beginners. 15-20 lessons, 90 minute each.

Russian alphabet. Reading: syllables, short words, longer words and short sentences. Greetings, introducing oneself, making appointments, asking and telling about location of buildings or some objects, conversation in a shop, expressing your feelings, likes and dislikes, telling about your wishes, simple requests.
Grammar: nouns – endings in different cases and gender, pronouns, verb: form of present, past and future tenses, prepositions, verbs of motion.

Traditional courses:

Elementary course 14-20 lessons (per 90 minutes each)
Learning how to use Russian efficiently in various situations.

Work – making arrangements, requests, asking questions and answering them, expressing your attitude, discussing problems arisen at work .

Everyday Russian – detailed conversations in different social situations – meeting people, learning information about them and telling information about yourself; traveling and asking for directions, detailed conversations during shopping process – in a boutique or in marketplace, dining at a restaurant. Different situations – getting invitations, being late, canceling appointment, accepting apologies, asking for permission and explanation. Telling what you are doing now and what you are going to do.
Motion – telling where you or somebody else went.
Telling about your interests and hobbies.

Reading Russian texts. Listening comprehension. Grammar – situational , for understanding speech patterns. Present, Past, Future Tenses. Word endings. 6 cases of the Russian language.
Phonetics – soft and hard consonants, softening consonants, voiceless consonants and the rules for sound getting voiceless at word ending, word stress.

Basic course 12-20 lessons

Engaging in discussions on different topics – cultural, political, understanding longer stories when listening or reading, and discussing them. Making usage of speech patterns automatic and further improving of skills to operate word endings and to construct sentences.

Intermediate course 20 lessons

Watching well-known Russian movies (with subtitles), retelling them, discussing the characters. Reading magazine and newspaper articles on current issues and discussing them. Refining speech patterns usage.

During lessons – explaining hidden senses of words, Russian mentality and its expression in the language so that usage of this or that speech pattern will be natural and relevant to situation.

Andrei Nesterov, Russian language teacher.
Education: a linguist (Irkutsk Linguistic University, graduated with distinction) and a reporter (Ural State University, Russia and Duke University, USA), experience in teaching: 7 years