How Long Does it Take to Learn Russian?

by Rosemarie Hardison
how long does it take to learn russian

Learning a new language comes with several mental and emotional benefits. It’s like training your brain to do something new, and it creates different career and personal opportunities as you get to connect with various people. But picking the next language to learn can be a little challenging, as some languages are more complex than others.

Russian, in particular, can be quite exciting if you’re interested in Russian art, music, and culture. It’s also one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, which makes it a good choice if you’re looking for a new language to learn.

But how much time does it take to learn Russian? What are the different levels of the Russian language, and how much time do you need to master each one of them? The answers to these questions are found in this article, so keep on reading.

What are the different levels of the Russian language?

Your level in Russian can be determined by taking and passing the ToRFL or Test of Russian as a Foreign Language. This test involves listening, reading, speaking, and writing exams to determine your overall level.

But in order to make things simpler, the Russian language can be divided into three different levels; entry, intermediate, and advanced. Each level corresponds to the way you can use the language in various contexts.

1. Entry level

This is the first level of learning Russian and the most common one among learners. Most people who are interested in the Russian language would study for a few months to reach this level and pass the A1 or A2 of the ToRFL.

The entry level corresponds to the most basic use of the language and doesn’t allow you to communicate fluently with Russian speakers. However, after learning the alphabet and some of the most common words, you’ll be able to learn some of the most basic phrases that Russians use daily.

One of the benefits of mastering the entry level of Russian is that you’ll be able to find the way if you get lost or order your food at a café. Of course, your poor yet useful knowledge of the language will help you ask Russians for directions if you get lost, but you won’t be able to hold a meaningful conversation.

If you’re learning Russian for a short trip, this might work for you. Unfortunately, lots of people lose interest after reaching this level, especially if they’re not planning to spend a long time in Russia.

2. Intermediate level

Reaching the intermediate level takes time and effort, but it’s more rewarding than reaching the entry level of the Russian language. When you reach this level, you’ll be able to pass the B1 and B2 levels, which allow you to communicate in various friendly and professional contexts.

With this level, you’ll master the grammar, spelling, and pronunciation rules of Russian, although you might not still sound like a native. However, you’ll be able to understand most of what is being said to you, and you can definitely ask other Russian speakers for clarification.

Once you reach this level, you’ll be able to watch Russian shows, enjoy Russian YouTube channels, and read some Russian books, although you might still need to check the dictionary. Most people try to reach this level if they’re planning to spend a long time in Russia.

It’s also what you need to achieve if you plan to study or work in Russia. You’ll be able to interact with the natives, even though you might still face some difficulties. However, regular interaction with native speakers and using the language regularly will help you advance to the next level.

3. Advanced level

Once you reach this level, you’ll be able to communicate well in Russian with other learners and native speakers. However, because it’s more difficult, only a few learners will be able to study to reach this level.

By reaching the advanced level and passing the C1 and C2 levels in the ToRFL, you’ll be able to understand different themes of Russian literature, and you’ll be able to write, edit, and translate texts in Russian.

This level is necessary if you want to get a diploma that qualifies you to teach Russian to other learners. Then, you can study and work in Russia, and you’ll be treated just like a native speaker.

It also qualifies you to hold deep and meaningful conversations in various fields, and you can have a full comprehension of the Russian slang, in addition to the different accents.

What is the time required to reach every level of the Russian language?

The main and most noticeable difference between English and Russian is related to the alphabet. We use the Latin alphabet in English, but we use the Cyrillic alphabet in Russian.

However, Russian is easier to pronounce than English, and there are fewer tenses and grammar rules that need to be followed. Nevertheless, you can’t expect to learn Russian in a couple of weeks.

As a matter of fact, the more advanced you need to be, the more time you’ll need to master the language. In most cases, being an entry level Russian speaker takes about 120 hours of studying. This means studying for 2 hours a day for almost two months.

After this period, you’ll have a preliminary understanding of the language, but you won’t be able to understand everything you read or hear.

To reach the intermediate level, you’ll need to spend more time interacting in Russian. This involves reading, watching shows, and speaking in Russian to learn new words and phrases.

Most learners need about 500 hours of interaction and active learning to reach the intermediate of the language. You need more time because this phase is more challenging, so you’ll probably need about nine months to reach and pass the intermediate level of Russian.

The most advanced level of the language requires more interaction in Russian, so you might consider traveling to Russia where you can actually spend more time with the natives.

You’ll probably need about 900 hours or almost three years of active learning and daily interaction to reach this level. Some people take less time to master Russian when they actually move to Russia.

Which factors affect the time needed to learn Russian?

The time needed to learn Russian differs from one person to another due to various factors. These factors impact the effort and time that you need to devote to learning the language, as well as the level you’re going to reach after a specified time period.

Previous language experience

Having previous experience with a language can impact the time you need to master Russian. Because of the difference in the alphabet, many English speakers can find Russian quite challenging.

Some languages like Kazakh, Tajik, Belarusian, Macedonia, Bulgarian, Montenegrin, Ukrainian, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek use the Cyrillic alphabet. So, if you speak any of these languages, Russian will look more familiar. Polish and Russian sound similar and have some common words, so if you speak Polish, you’ll be able to learn Russian faster.

Learning different languages

If you’ve never learned another language before, you’ll probably take more time to learn Russian. People who already know a second or third language have their brains accustomed to foreign languages, so they’ll be able to learn Russian faster.

Motivation and passion

Learning a new language isn’t always that easy. This is why you need to be highly motivated to devote time and effort to learning Russian.

You’ll probably be able to learn Russian faster if you’re planning to get a degree or a job in Russia. If Russian is what you need to graduate from university, get promoted, or find your dream job, you’ll gladly give up other activities to learn Russian until you can speak it fluently.

Lots of people also learn Russian because they’re romantically involved with a Russian person, and speaking the same language can help them communicate better. The more personal the motive is, the more you’ll be motivated to study Russian until you can master the language.

Discipline and devotion

Wanting to learn the language isn’t enough. You actually have to have self-discipline and devote your time and effort to mastering Russian.

You should set a flexible yet realistic schedule to study Russian. Even though you want to learn Russian fast, you can’t expect to learn it in one or two weeks.

You can either sign up for courses, join an online program, or design a personal learning program that works for you. If you have the chance to travel to Russia, you’ll have a more flexible schedule, but you have to stick to using Russian as much as you can while dealing with others.

Wrap Up

Learning Russian can be what you need to achieve a personal or professional goal. And in order to learn the language, you need to devote your time and effort, stay motivated, and set a realistic schedule to become fluent.

The Russian language can be divided into three different levels, and you’ll need more time the more advanced the level is. In general, it takes about two months to reach the entry level and about five years to reach the advanced level.

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