I’m learning Russian

After my 5 days stay in Tbilisi, Georgia, I decided to visit by Kiev, Ukraine. And now, I have decided to learn Russian.

Now, I’m not one of those people who enjoys learning languages. In fact, I strongly despise learning new languages. I do my best to avoid it if possible. I see languages as just a method of communication between human beings. I frankly wish the British Empire conquered the entire world while they were at it and forced the entire world to speak English. They were doing a pretty good job at it too. Too bad that the empire collapsed.

So why do I want to learn Russian? The first reason was to make my travels in Eastern Europe much easier. It seems that Russian is kind of like Spanish in Latin America in that it’s the “biggest bang for the buck” language you can learn as you can use it in many different places. This is the “practical” reason.

Second reason is much more vain. Before arriving in Kiev, my thought on learning Russian was, “Eh… maybe, perhaps if I’m really bored”. After arriving in Kiev, Ukraine, that changed to, “Ok, Russian needs to be learned”. After arriving in Kiev, the first thing that I noticed were the Ukrainian women. They are probably the most beautiful women (collectively speaking) I’ve seen. The only problem is that the majority of them don’t speak English, so… I will learn Russian so that I can communicate with them. Yep, a completely vain reason 😬

So why learn Russian instead of Ukrainian, the latter which is the official language of Ukraine? Well, because Ukrainian is kind of like Korean in a sense that it’s useless outside its respective country. And both Russian and Ukrainian are supposedly to be difficult languages, I might as well learn the one that is spoken in more places.

My strategy for learning will compose of the following, mostly built from previous experience of learning Spanish:

  1. 1 on 1 private instruction for 2 hours per day at an academy
  2. Anki for vocabulary learned in class
  3. Memrise for shoving vocabulary into my brain
  4. Listening to Pilmsleur passively

Private 1 on 1 Instruction at an academy

I put an importance on the “1 on 1” instruction rather than group classes because from taking group classes, I found that around half of the time is wasted in a group setting. In group classes, the pace is slower, you have to wait your turn to ask questions, sometimes your peers are way ahead of you or you’re way ahead of them. I found that around 2 hours of 1-on-1 instruction is equivalent to around 4 hours of group instruction. And while private instruction is more expensive, I find it to be cheaper if I put a price on the value of my time. I’d rather pay more and save 2 hours of my time per day.

Right now, I’m taking Russian classes at a school called Novamova.

Anki for vocabulary

I like to use Anki to memorize words learned in class and encountered in my every-day life. The spaced repetition method in the Anki app is great for memorizing vocabulary over the span of a few days.

You can download the Anki apps here:

Anki – Android

Anki – iOS


Memrise is a free language learning app similar to Duolingo but functions more as a flashcard app with its own version of Anki’s spaced repetition method built in. It comes with a lot of pre-built courses for various languages and I’ll be going through the Russian course.

I used Memrise when learning Spanish and I found it to be the best for shoving in as much vocabulary into my brain as possible. When first learning Spanish, I would wake up an extra hour early every morning to do Memrise for an hour. This really paid off when I started taking Spanish classes because I’ve already built up a large set of vocabulary, so I could divert most of my attention to learning grammar in classes.

Memrise is free, although they do have a Pro version for $29 per year. I use the Pro version as it offers offline mode, which I find to be useful when I’m feel like studying in places with a bad internet connection.

You can download Memrise here

Memrise – Android

Memrise – iOS


Pimsleur is a series of language audio courses available in various languages. I’ll be going through the Russian course as I go throughout my day as I’m walking to class, working out at the gym, and etc. I don’t find the topics taught in Pilmsleur to be particularly useful in every day life, but this is more-so to get my ears used to hearing more Russian every day, and perhaps pick up a new word every now and then.

The Pimsleur Russian course is actually pretty expensive, at $350 USD. However, for $350, you do get 90 lessons, which ends up being about $4 per lesson, each of which you can repeat as many times as you want.

Despite the price, I think if you want to learn a language as fast as possible, a good audio course like Pimsleur is worth the investment.

You can purchase Pimsleur at the link below

Pimsleur Russian Levels 1 – 3

At any rate…

I expect this to be hard as hell.

About the Author Chris Jeon

Software developer currently focusing on Android development.