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Learning Russian – Week one

I really wanted to learn a new language as I my Spanish has reached a level that is good enough to use in most situations. I was then hesitating between : Mandarin, Arabic or Russian.

Considering I am planning a trip in a few months in many countries where Russia’s cultural influence is still strong. I decided that Russian is a great bet since in many of these countries the amount of people speaking english is extremely low while most people know Russian as their second language. Also museums and directions are still in Russian except for some exceptions in Saint-Petersbourgh.

The Russian use the Cyrillic, which is derived from the Greek uncial script, and so I had to learn a complete new Alphabet and way of writing and reading.

The Cyrillic script /sɨˈrɪlɪk/ is an alphabetic writing system employed across Eastern Europe and north and central Asia. It is based on the Early Cyrillic, which was developed during the First Bulgarian Empire in the 9th century AD at the Preslav Literary School. It is the basis of alphabets used in various languages, past and present, in parts of Southeastern Europe and Northern Eurasia, especially those of Slavic origin, and non-Slavic languages influenced by Russian. As of 2011, around 252 million people in Eurasia use it as the official alphabet for their national languages, with Russia accounting for about half of them.[5] Cyrillic is one of the most used writing systems in the world.

I have no idea how good I might become but honestly,  I can’t wait to see how well i’ll face this challenge.

Week 1 of learning Russian (1 hour /day)

After a few hours of research on how to learn Russian, I made a training plan, and was ready to start learning one of the most difficult languages in the world. I really see this as a personal challenge.

Step 1 – Download Babbel

So I looked into various Websites offering Russian and I decided to go with Babbel as they seems to have many courses for absolute beginners. I decided to learn Russian using French as I felt it was more similar in many ways and that at this point it’s really more about learning what letter makes what sound.

babbel learning Russian

The first lessons of babbel was to get to know how each symbol was pronounced using comparatives from French. Some Symbols don’t have comparatives in English and in French and they are by far the hardest one to get; especially those which use guttural sounds like the KH (X.)


It took me a few hours to be able to start to read many words  in the correct way. Quickly enough though, many exceptions surface but in general, Russian is read in the same way as it is written.

After the first week I had completed one third of the beginner’s part of Babel and had a lot of fun doing it.

Step 2 – Create myself a exercise book

I wanted to be able to track my progress and have a good tool for studying. So everyday, while doing Babel or other Russian stuff I wrote down in an empty school exercise book the daily progress. Usually, one page per day. Seeing the pages get filled up every day is a great motivational took as one of the best way to keep focused on goals is to have tangible evidence of one’s progress.

Learning Russian to travel

Week 1 conclusion:

It was a really fun week as it was mostly focused on pronunciation and deciphering the new language and trying to understand a few words. Felt like a sort of mental puzzle and I can now read most short words without too much problems although it might take me 15 seconds to read just one.



My name is Paco and I traveled more than 70 countries in the past 10 years. Currently trying to balance traveling to new places, working and being the father of a beautiful little girl.

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