One week of Russian – how much can you learn?

One week of intensive Russian learning (starting from scratch) was a lot of fun! I spent about 35 hours with Larisa, teacher at the Volkshochschule of Hamburg, and my class of 15 students. Nice group, eager to learn, very passionate about Russian – I guess you have tobe when it comes to learning it. It’s not the easiest language to learn, even to the Germans.

The most satisfactory part is to be able (in very little time) to read an write the Cyrillic alphabet. It’s so alien to write these letters and still be able to make sense and be read by the teacher. But there are some other funny facts about Russian I thought I’d mention here:

  • You don’t need to use “to be” in the present. You basically say “I John” or “You from Hamburg?” instead of “I’m John” and “Are you from Hamburg?”
  • There are six cases in Russian. That’s not a fun fact. We approached 3 (almost 4). They change the ending of the words. Ugh.
  • P is R, H is N, N (mirrored) is I, C is S, B is V,… Secret language!
  • When you write, some letters look different. T looks like an M and D looks like a g.
  • Brat means brother!
  • A single consonnant can be a word – C is “with” or “B” is “in”.
  • Bielo means white and bolchoy is big. As in Belarus (white Russia) and Bolchevik.
  • Cotelettes are meat balls and vinegrad is a salad with beetroot and herrings.
  • Vowels are VERY deceiving. O can be O or A, E can be E or YE or mute,… Tough one.
  • You introduce yourself as “they call me…” (Menia zavut…)

I can’t wait to take up another course!




About John Barré

English & German into French translator. Interested in languages, literature, video games, localisation & translation - among many other topics.
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