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Languages for Expats in Russia

Submitted: December 2013

According to some, learning basic Russian before going to live and work in Russia is not an essential requirement. However, it would help ease an expatriate into their new community if they understood at least a little of the language of their new adopted country. It is also said that not speaking or understanding any Russian makes it more likely that the newcomer will experience the not-so-nice side of the country.This should be incentive enough to want to learn some Russian.

There are a great number of online Russian language courses available, so study of the language can and should commence prior to arrival in Russia. Websites such as https://www.russianlessons.net/, https://learnrussian.rt.com/ and https://masterrussian.com/start_learning.htm offer free online tuition from learning the alphabet to nouns, adjectives and grammar. Masterrussion.com also gives a student the opportunity to be taught by a native speaker via Skype. Another website offering free tuition is https://www.russian-plus.com/. Tuition is structured according to an individual’s knowledge and ability and is suitable for complete beginners, intermediates and those with an already advanced knowledge of the language.

Verbal Planet https://www.verbalplanet.com) offers online courses using Skype for conversation practice and feedback from tutors. Useful Russian phrases and basic language skills can be learnt via https://www.omniglot.com/language/phrases/russian.php where the user can listen to and then repeat words and phrases.

A useful way of practising the newly acquired language skills would be through language exchange such as https://www.mylanguageexchange.com/Country/Russia.asp. Would be Russian speaker can team up with Russian natives via email, meetings or voice chat and in turn help them improve their English. Another website working on the same principle is https://www.conversationexchange.com/s_map/language-exchange.php?town=Moscow. A student of Russian can select one or more Russian speaking individuals advertising on the site to engage in mutual language tuition according to their needs and preferred way of communicating.

Once in Russia, an expat could make use of one of the many language schools, particularly in Moscow, which offer Russian language tuition. Listings for many of the schools specialising in teaching individuals with English as their mother tongue can be found here:  https://expat.ru/phonedir.php?cid=39. Some of these schools offer tuition in small groups, others specialise in teaching children and teenagers, while others also provide tuition for languages other than Russian.

Russian is a complex language to learn and many would-be expats might be put off by the challenge of learning a script that is alien to anyone educated outside of Russia. While it might be true that Russian language skills are not absolutely necessary when living or working in Moscow, one should always consider the possibility that travel outside this metropolis could pose substantial problems if the local language is completely alien to the newcomer. In addition, by studying the local language the learner will also gain an understanding of Russian culture and customs that are very important to many Russian nationals. For that reason as well as for ease of day-to-day living, it must be said that when anyone considers living in a country where the official language is different from their mother tongue, an effort should be made to at least learn the basics of the language spoken in their new adopted country of residence.

 

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