If you want to learn to speak Russian, you can, of course, purchase Russian textbooks and start learning on your own. But while there are some very good books for learning Russian out there, they can’t replace Russian lessons with a teacher.
What are the advantages to Russian language lessons with a teacher as opposed to using a textbook, videos or a language app?
One thing a Russian-speaking teacher can do that all of these other language learning helps cannot is give you constructive feedback. A book or video might have exercises to help you learn, and hopefully a key to those exercises so you know if you have done them correctly, but even the best of apps can only tell you if you are right or wrong. They won’t be able to give you tips to understanding your mistakes or a different set of exercises to learn things another way.
Here are a few specific areas where a teacher will help you advance faster:
Pronunciation. While listening to audio files or a video in an online course will tell you how Russian words need to be pronounced, they won’t be able to tell you what you are doing wrong – whether your tongue needs to be placed differently or if you need to stress another syllable.
The Russian alphabet. The Cyrillic alphabet has just enough letters in common with the Latin alphabet to make you cocky. You might be learning words wrong just because you forgot that H is pronounced “n” and P is actually “r”. A live teacher will catch those mistakes early and remind you of how to say the different letters.
Grammar. A teacher won’t just tell you that your sentence is grammatically incorrect, but also explain how and help you work to improve areas where your language skills are not yet up to par – such as Russian verbs or declensions.
Colloquial words and phrases. There’s the language you find in Russian literature and textbooks, and then there are the Russian phrases commonly used in conversation. A teacher can help you with conversational Russian so you can sound like a native speaker.
Revision. When you learn Russian, you will need to revise your previous Russian lessons from time to time. Now, many sites and apps have revision modules, but teachers will force you to revise – either by going over the material with you again regularly or by assigning tests.
Learning Russian vocabulary is important and a teacher can help keep you motivated. Photo credit: sarae on Visual Hunt
Russian Lessons in the UK
Looking for a place to learn Russian in the UK? There are a number of language institutes that offer Russian courses. Some of them are available throughout the UK, though as in many things, London has the greatest concentration of offers.
Here are some institutes for learning Russian that might have a school with Russian classes near you.
Cactus has institutes in Bournemouth, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Oxford and Sheffield. They offer beginners and intermediate courses, in ten-week sets. They also offer some Russian online resources for free.
The Russian Language Centre in Manchester offers both group courses and one-on-one classes. They have a beginners’ language course and a conversation course to help you improve your listening comprehension and fluency as you speak Russian.
The University of Edinburgh offers short courses (as opposed to undergraduate or graduate classes) in Russian for adults. The language lessons last a whole term and are available as a beginner, elementary, intermediate and advanced levels.
The University of Westminster offers the opportunity to learn Russian through evening courses. It is divided into three parts of ten weeks each. Lesson1 includes the Cyrillic alphabet, declension in the nominative, accusative and genitive, personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, infinitive and the first conjugation in the present tense. Lesson 2 includes the second conjugation in the present tense, irregular verbs, adjectives, the prepositional case and plurals. Lesson 3 includes adverbs, the nominative case, accusative case and genitive case of plural nouns, the dative case and instrumental case for a singular noun or personal pronoun, verbs of motion and reflexive verbs.
For those of you living in Cornwall,The Language Tree in Truro offers Russian lessons.
There are Russian lessons for children available in many UK cities. Photo credit: sarae on VisualHunt
Russian Classes for Children
The Cambridge Language School offers a lot of Russian language courses for children of varying ages. To learn vocabulary such as nouns, adjectives and verbs – or the days of the week, for example – they have Russian-learning games and fairy tales. They also offer GCSE and A-Level language programs.
Milton Keynes has a Russian language school where children can learn to speak the language, from toddlers to elementary schoolchildren. They also offer classes in Russian as a foreign language for beginner adults and GCSE preparation.
Russian classes London
Most probably you can find more Russian classes if you search specifically for Russian lessons in your hometown or the next big city online. But if you are lucky enough to live near London, you will find a variety of language schools and institutes to help you learn Russian grammar, basic Russian phrases and the Russian letters and numbers.
Polyword offers both group lessons and one-to-one possibilities for studying Russian vocabulary and culture. They also offer business-oriented classes if you need to become fluent for your job.
Russian-Lessons.co.uk have a range of courses for beginners and intermediate level learners of Russian as a second language. They also have some free lessons with a simple phrase a week that you can sign up for in order to learn new words (like common Russian verbs) and ways to communicate basic needs.
Just Russian has lessons for a Russian learner at various levels, as well as offering business and corporate Russian. You can take intensive courses there or get support for their GCSEs or A-Levels. They also offer cultural awareness courses for people wishing to travel to Russia for business or pleasure where you can learn about Russian culture and are sure not to make a faux pas when meeting people there.
The SOAS language centre of the University of London also offers open language instruction for 10 weeks per level. After the third level, your level of comprehension will be sufficient to take an A1 test in TORFL (Test of Russian as a Foreign Language).
Teachers in a classroom are good – but sometimes a private tutor is better. Photo credit: Crossroads Foundation Photos on Visual Hunt
Russian Language Lessons with a Private Tutor
So far we have mostly looked at group classes, the most common way to learn a foreign language.
However, some of these sites also offer one-to-one tutoring as well as Skype classes for those who can’t schedule around fixed course times. And of course, here at Superprof, we have over 900 tutors available to teach you all about this Slavic language in the comfort of your own home – whether physically present or over Skype.
The benefits of private tutoring when speaking Russian
You probably think that private tutoring costs more than taking a course at a language institute or university in order to learn a new language. But this doesn’t have to be the case – lessons can start as low as under 20£ an hour. But what are the advantages of having a private tutor helping you to study Russian verbs and their conjugation?
Flexible hours. You may not be able to convince a tutor to come a 1 o’clock in the morning and of course, he or she will have to schedule around other clients, but you are more likely to find the time to learn how to speak Russian if you take classes with a private teacher. He or she is not forced to plan around room availability in a school nor to teach at times most people are available. If you work evenings, you can take morning or afternoon classes. And if your work week looks different every week, you are not stuck with a single specific date and time.
You won’t fall behind. If you have to cancel a class for some reason, you will not fall behind on coursework – instead, you can simply do that module the next time you meet.
You can learn at your own pace. Are you having trouble with demonstrative pronouns or Russian sentence structure? Then your tutor can spend more time on that before going on to the next thing. No problems with noun declension? You won’t have to sit through three more hours of it but can move on to the next lesson.
A private tutor can adjust their curriculum depending on your rate of learning and interests.
A tutor adapts to your learning style. More of a visual learner? Need to see things written down or do you prefer to hear them? If you discuss your learning habits with your tutor, he or she can adapt their course to your strengths and weaknesses – offer more visual information or teach from textbooks, for example.
A private Russian tutor can help tailor grammar exercises to your needs. Photo credit: Katie@! on Visualhunt.com
What to look for when searching for a private tutor
Are you on a tight budget? Why not look for Russian students, or students of Russian, who can give you private lessons at a lower rate than established teachers? Of the two:
Russian native speakers studying in the UK will have the advantage on pronunciation and colloquialisms. You will be studying Russian as it is actually spoken. However, they might have forgotten some of the grammar they learned in school or not be able to explain Russian grammar rules that seem perfectly logical to them.
Students of Russian (at a university level) will be advanced enough to teach beginners, while at the same their own learning experience is not too far behind, so they might be better able to adapt. However, you might not be getting perfectly accurate pronunciation or colloquial Russian.
Many private tutors offer their first lesson for free. This is a good way to get to know them and see if you are compatible. Sometimes personalities clash – don’t hesitate to look for someone new if you and your prospective tutor just don’t click, or if you notice that someone is not working out. They might not be a bad teacher, but simply not be the right teacher for you. It’s a waste of money to stay on with someone if you are not making any progress in Russian!
With these tips, you have a few tools to get you started on your search for a teacher to show you the beauty and complexity of the Russian language!
Sonia is an Egyptologist turned writer and translator. She speaks 3 and a half languages, can translate hieroglyphs and enjoys yoga, singing, embroidery and travelling through all of time and space.
Our readers love this article Did you find this article helpful?