How to Learn New Russian Words

Posted on January 27th, 2012

Learning Russian WordsLearning Russian can be tough. Trust me, I really do feel for you. So many times I’ve heard from my students that Cyrillic alphabet makes it much more difficult to learn new words in Russian.

However, as you know, learning vocabulary is a very important part of learning a new language. The more words you know, the better you will be able to understand native Russian speakers around you. Expanding your vocabulary will also help you to better explain your thoughts and feelings in Russian.

Let me share a few tips that will help you to learn new Russian words and feel more comfortable to use them in sentences.

Where to Start?

In my article 7 Simple Ways to Learn New Russian Words I talked about the role of motivation in our everyday life.

If you think about it, everything we do is inspired by motivation. We need to have motivation in our lives to start and complete any task, whether it’s getting a cup of coffee or learning a new language.

So, start by asking yourself what is it that really motivates you to learn Russian?

Are you learning Russian:
• for work?
• to make Russian friends?
• to understand your spouse better?
• to get a good grade in school?
• because you are planning a trip to Russia?
• because you love languages and Russian is one of them?
• because you are fascinated with Russian history and culture?

Imagine yourself achieving your final goal: whether it’s making more Russian friends or speaking fluent Russian with your significant other. Think about your motivation every time you want to give up. In other words, keep your eye on the ball!

Focus on the Right Words

Every day you might come across many different Russian words and expressions. On one hand, getting used to the Russian speech is very important, on another, it may seem a little overwhelming. You will need to pick the right words to learn.  Here are a few tips:

• Learn words that you will need to use in speech
• Learn words that you read or hear again and again
• Learn words that are relevant to the topic you are studying

Try to avoid learning words that you will not be able to use in your own speaking or writing any time soon, for example, rare words or exotic scientific terms.

Write New Words Down

When learning new words in Russian, I would strongly recommend writing them down along with their definitions.

You can organize your new words either in a separate notepad, or just jot them down in the same notebook that you use for notes in your Russian classes: this is up to you, but a visual reference is very important when learning new vocabulary.

Practicing Pronunciation

Also, try to pronounce new Russian words aloud several times as you are writing them down. This great exercise will help you to memorize the pronunciation of the word.

Make sure that you are learning correct pronunciation – refer to online dictionaries or a Russian speaker (like me :) ).

Make Sure You Know Everything about the Word

When learning a new word in Russian, look it up in a dictionary and make sure that you know the following details about it:

• How is it spelled?
• How is it pronounced?
• What part of speech it is?
• How it is inflected?
• Is it an exception from any rules?
• Are there any other words or expressions often used with it?

Gathering the following information about the word will help you to recognize it faster when you hear or see it later.

Make Sentences

It’s always easier to remember new words when you use them in sentences. For example, you’ve just learned new word “красивый”. Now, try to make a phrase or a short sentence with it.
For example:
У Оли красивая кукла.

This exercise will help you to learn how the word is used in Russian speech, it will also make it easier for you to memorize it.

These are just a few tips. Would you like to share your own tips that help you to learn new Russian words? If you have any comments or suggestions, please drop me a line in the comments section below.

Happy Russian learning! :)

See you soon,


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The courses of Russian as a foreign language with Russian4real take place online via Skype. The teacher works with adults individually since he is convinced that each person must receive maximum time for practice and professional attention while learning a foreign language.