1. It’s One of The Most Spoken Languages in The World
The first of my reasons for learning the Russian language is that it is spoken by more than 260 million people around the world. It is not only the official language of Russian, but also of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Additionally, It is spoken in Israel, the Balkans, Ukraine, Armenia and the USA. At times, it has been considered as the most spoken language in Europe, and, according to the language catalog, The Ethnologue, Russian is the 8th most spoken language in the world.
Being a Slavic language, the Russian language shares a lot of similarities with languages such as Polish, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Czech. When it comes to the countries which were part of the old Soviet Union, it is estimated that those who were in their twenties after the dissolution of the USSR still know some Russian. It is estimated that there are around 850.000 speakers of the language in the U.S. alone.
2. Knowing the Russian Language Improves Your Employment Opportunities
From the start of the new millennium, Russia has constantly 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. This means that if you work in tourism, knowing how to speak Russian is definitely an asset 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.
3. It 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, Dostoyevsky and Pushkin in its original version? The Russian language has an enormous amount of expressions you can’t find in English. For example, when I was still studying Russian I read ‘The Little Prince’, and I saw that English sometimes needed to use three to 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. Personally, I like Russian TV series, Russian movies, modern rock and rap music and, particularly, the alternative culture which is currently developing in Saint Petersburg.
It is very interesting for me to see how people of my generation, those who were born when the Berlin Wall fell, have grown, and to understand their view of the future and the past. Once more, being able to speak their language will allow you to understand them and their culture, something which could never happen through cultural exchanges.
4. You Will Discover The True Russia
After a few trips to Russia and after having spoken to other tourists there, I am convinced of one thing: once you learn the Russian language (even if it is just a bit), your trips to Russia will be completely transformed.
Russians aren’t know for their smile, some aren’t too trustworthy of foreigners either, and, to make things worse, not many speak English or other European languages. So what usually happens is that tourists end up having limited communication with locals due to the language barrier, giving them a negative impression of their trip. However, I can assure you that after acquiring the ability to have a conversation in Russian, making friends will become much easier; it’s as if a veil will be taken off, and Russians will instantly become welcoming and friendly.
Being able to communicate in the Russian language will open up more options than finding cheap hotels to stay (for those who can’t afford luxury ones). Couchsurfingis a good option, but there are other options, such as Airbnb, a website where you can find apartments and rooms for rent.
They are very affordable, you can even find rooms as cheap as €30 for the night. Another advantage of traveling in Russian when you know the language is that you’ll be able to avoid common places and tourist traps. During my experience of learning the Russian language, I learned that the price of a taxi ride depends on your level of Russian.
The better you know Russian, the lower the ride will cost. Speaking the language of your touristic destination will change the behavior of locals, as you’re not just a simple tourist, but you are interested in their language and culture. Once you’ve learned Russian, you’ll never see Russia the same way.
5. The Perfect Opportunity to Broaden Your Social Circle
Speaking another language will give you a huge advantage when it comes to making new friends and contacts.
Knowing the Russian language will help you empathize with the people of its country and to establish professional relations or making new friendships during one of your trips.
When learning Russian, you’ll meet many who share the same passion for Russia, be it Russians or others who, like you, are learning the language.
If your significant other or a friend of yours speaks Russian, take advantage of this opportunity! It’s a really useful way of learning and practicing the language, and it will also help you understand the Russian culture. I can’t deny that my main motivation was because my partner is Russian!
6. It Allows You to Learn Something New, Useful and Different
This is a good reason for learning Russian, as learning this language makes you understand useful concepts for studying other languages. It will also help you understand your mother tongue even more. Learning Russian will completely change the way you tackle learning other languages and your surroundings.
If you’re a university student or are in college, now is the time to take the decision to learn Russian.
Contrarily to some other languages which are easy to learn by yourself, finding a Russian teacher will make a big difference.
Although I don’t think universities teach languages with the most efficient methods, I can’t deny the fact that they offer an environment which makes sticking to it easier, they also create a level of immersion which is hard to recreate otherwise, and, of course, they give you a diploma!
Choosing to learn Russian for three years at a university changed my life. As a professional option, Russian can give you access to various well-paying jobs such as Russian teacher, English teachers to Russians and translator.
The government of the United States offers high salaries to translators of Russian, and, it being a critical language, the governments offers fully funded language and cultural immersion program.
Specializing in this language brings many benefits, both professional and personal ones.
7. Simply Because You Want to
This is the last reason for learning Russian, but probably the most important one: if you’ve read this article this far, it’s because learning Russian is something you want to do.
The number of people who speak a certain language, or the work opportunities a language offers can’t be your only motivation. Passion and interest are one of the most important assets you can have for learning a language, especially a language like Russian. If you’d love to learn Russian, if you have strong feelings every time you listen to Russian music, if your significant other is Russian, or if you’ve always dreamed of visiting Moscow, you already have the perfect reason for learning Russian. This will motivate you to learn the language more than any other reason ever could.
Follow your heart: Imagine walking down the streets of Saint Petersburg during Winter or in the Red Square covered in snow while talking to Russian friends on topics you enjoy. If this is a dream of yours, stop postponing it, and start to learn Russian!