How I started to learn Russian and how you can start learning it too!

How I started to learn Russian and how you can start learning it too!
02 March 2021

If you are reading this blog, it means that you in some way or another are interested in learning the Russian language. Whether you want to communicate with your new Russian neighbor, whether you want to read Dostojevski in its original language, or whether as soon as the borders will open again, you’re on your way to Russia for a train ride on the Transiberian Express, the question always is: how do you start learning a language you don’t know?

Well, in this blog I would like to tell you my very first experience with learning Russian as a foreigner, in the hope that it will inspire you to learn Russian as well!

Little Prince
Translation: And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Firstly, I have to tell you: although my mother is actually Russian, she moved to the Netherlands when she was 32 and I was born and raised there. I only spoke with my mother in Russian until I was about 4 years old. Therefore, last year after graduating from university, I thought that it would be a good time to start learning Russian, otherwise it would probably never happen anymore.

So what did I do? Well, I did the same thing my mother did when she came to the Netherlands, and it is a tip from both of us: buy a book you know very well in your native language, and buy the same book in Russian and just start reading simultaneously! In her case it was Winnie-the-Pooh (or in Russian: Винни Пух. By the way: did you know that Winnie-the-Pooh looks much different from the bear we know in the West? Just take a look!), in my case it was the book Little Prince (or in Russian: Маленький Принц).

For me, the great thing about reading Little Prince in Russian, was that the expressions (выражения) that make this book so famous actually sound beautiful in Russian as well. I collected a few for you.

Translation: One runs the risk of weeping a little if one allows himself to be tamed.


Rose and Prince

Translation: I’m afraid to become like adults who are interested in nothing but numbers.

Another great thing about the book, is that although there are a lot of philosophical expressions one can find when reading it as an adult, the book was actually written for children. This makes the book great to start learning a foreign language. Rumor has it, that “Little Prince” is actually the world’s most translated book, with the exception of religious works, including the Bible, which is the current record-holder. So, in case you want to give learning another foreign language a try, this book is very suitable for that too.

One more thing
In case you have become interested in buying the Little Prince, in Saint Petersburg you can actually buy it at Dom Knigi (in Russian: Дом Книги or translated: House of Books). It is a huge bookstore in the center of Saint Petersburg where they have a huge collection of Russian books, as well as in other language.

Happy reading!



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