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I use Stackoverflow a lot but this is my first post here so apologies if I miss any etiquette.

I have to learn Russian very fast and I wondered what the best approach for a Latin language speaker would be.

There are many ways to learn a new language (syntax vs situational etc). I speak English, French bits & pieces of German, Spanish & Italian and find it easy to pick up (and drop) latin languages but Russian isn't naturally similar to anything I know.

I'm interested in getting opinions of what would be the fastest way to learn Russian in terms of the approach to learning.

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    English is not a Latin language. – Anixx Sep 21 '13 at 15:57
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    @Anixx I think OP means exactly that: he easily picks up Latin languages, but is not sure how to deal with Russian. That said, I'm afraid, this question will end up closed as off topic though... – Aleks G Sep 21 '13 at 16:00
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    Getting a Russian-speaking girlfriend is the fastest (and arguably the most pleasant) way of learning the language. Of course that's a joke, but there's a little joke behind every joke. – dasblinkenlight Sep 21 '13 at 17:09
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    For what purpose do you have to learn it "very fast" and exactly what time scale is "very fast"? Typically you need to learn a skill gradually if you're going to learn it well. I am reminded of students who think they can somehow understand in one or two days all the calculus they haven't been studying regularly, just before a big exam. Also, your list of "Latin" languages doesn't include Latin. If you like Latin cases, you're going to love Russian. :) – KCd Sep 21 '13 at 20:12
  • @KCd. somehow the calculus on steroids in the last week before the exam worked for me back in time, shit happens if you are open to accept it, so go ahead and keep on trying – Trident D'Gao Sep 23 '13 at 3:04
  • Yes, english is not latin but of course. What I really meant was more related to Latin character based languages. I am aware that it's not going to be super-quick, I'm more interested in opinions of how to get a general handle on the language quickly rather than getting a robust & fluent understanding over time – Alex Sep 23 '13 at 6:08
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    What is it you want to be able to say in Russian or understand in Russian, and what kind of time frame do you have in mind (1 month, a half-year,...)? – KCd Sep 24 '13 at 1:58
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You learn Russian the same way you learn any other language. Sadly, there is no magic here.

On the bright side, Cyrillic is not as scary as it may seem. It is based on the Greek alphabet, so if you know Greek letters at all it will help. Also, while the spelling of Russian words does not map exactly to their sound, if you do pronounce them exactly as they are written, you will still be understood. In fact, there is no Russian word for "spell". All you have to do is read off the word as it is written.

And since you know English, French, and some German, you will be pleasantly surprised. There was a big influx of German words into Russian in the 18th century, then an influx of French words in the 19th century, and then an influx of English words in the past 20 years. Not to mention the fact that Russian is just as Indo-European as the Germanic or the Romance languages, meaning that you can still see the common ancestry of many words. So saying that Russian is not similar to anything you know is simply incorrect.

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You can open an account on popular russian web resources (such as vk.com). You can also find a couple of friends there and talk with them in skype.

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  • Yeah I know VK however the cyrillic alphabet is a huge hurdle I cannot overcome quickly. I'm more interested in trying to get a general phonetic understanding (day to day speech) – Alex Sep 23 '13 at 6:10
  • @Alex: if the alphabet seems like something you don't think you can pick up, then I doubt you're going to learn to do more than say a few phrases while understanding none of the replies (except for "yes" or "no"). I was in China over the summer, without time to learn to read or write, and before the trip I memorized a few phrases written phonetically. When I said them I was generally understood, but I had no clue what anyone was saying back to me unless they shook their head or pointed (= non-linguistic response), or spoke in English. – KCd Sep 24 '13 at 2:07
  • @Alex: if you want to be able to communicate (two-way), you need to learn some grammar and then the alphabet would be the least of your difficulties. To figure out what native speakers say, you need to learn how they speak. – KCd Sep 24 '13 at 2:10

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