Are you learning Russian and struggling with the alphabet?
Want to jump right in and get straight to the PDF?
You’ll get access to my free language learning library, the Russian Alphabet PDF and loads of other useful language learning resources.
Want some context for the worksheet and my experience learning Russian? Keep reading.
Why I Learned Russian
Some time ago, I decided that I wanted to learn Russian.
It felt a bit indulgent because it was the first language I was learning for no reason other than I wanted to. Most of my languages prior to taking on Russian were for work or a trip and not “just because”.
Where did the inspiration for learning Russian start?
A while back my dad talked about enrolling in a Russian language course together, but we never got around to doing it. So I put off learning the language, even though I was still interested in learning it until he and I could study it together.
As fate (or genetics) would have it, however, my dad is too much like me. Or maybe I am too much like him? Either way, to put it simply, he has more hobbies than he has time for, and has since given up the idea of learning Russian.
Although he has lost interest in learning the language, my own increased significantly. I knew that it was a Slavic language, and while watching a tv show (The Americans) which includes quite a bit of Russian dialogue, I realized just how much I already understood. And because I loved the series so much, I couldn’t help but want to understand better! Plus, I would always be able to teach my папа how to say a few things if he ever changed his mind.
Learning the Russian Alphabet
One of the things that I’ve heard over and over is that it’s really helpful to learn the Russian alphabet before you really start getting into the language. Since I’ve heard it so many times recently, I’ve really taken that bit of advice to heart and immediately began working through a deck on Memrise. I didn’t really feel like it was enough though, so I set out to find a printout of the alphabet to hang on my wall.
But I, unfortunately, didn’t find exactly what I was looking for.
So, I decided to make it!
And now I want to share it with you!
Download the Russian alphabet PDF and get access to my library of free language learning resources here.
I have also been hard at work collecting resources for the Russian language. You can see what I’ve put together here.
Tips for Learning the Russian Alphabet
Struggling to master the Russian alphabet? Here are a few tips to help you get comfortable learning to read and write in Russian:
1 Focus on Familiar Letters First
While Russian uses a different writing system than English, it still shares several similar letters. The letters A, E, K, M, O and T are essentially the same as their Latin script equivalents.
2 Be Wary of False Friends
There are several letters in the Russian alphabet that look similar to their English equivalents but are actually different. Be wary of these false friends!
These letters are:
- B – this letter actually sounds more like “v”
- H – this letter is actually “n”
- P – this letter is the “r” sound
- C – this letter is the “s” sound
- Y – this letter makes and “u” sound
- X – and this letter sounds more like “kh”
3 Take It From There
Once you’ve had an easy win with the familiar letters and spent some time with your false friends so they can’t trick you, you can take it from there and learn the remaining letters.
4 Try Out Scripts
Scripts is one of my favorite apps for learning how to read and write in a new language. Drops also includes several lessons to help you master the Russian alphabet. Both helped me immensely when learning languages with different writing systems, including Russian.
A Few Facts About the Russian Alphabet
The Russian alphabet uses the Cyrillic script — like Serbian! It came into use in the 10th century by the Kieven Rus’ for what would become the Russian language.
The modern Russian alphabet is comprised of 33 letters: 20 consonants, 10 vowels, 1 semivowel, and two modifier letters.
“Wait…” you might be thinking. “What’s a semivowel and what are modifier letters?”
A semivowel is a letter that sounds like a vowel but really functions as a syllable boundary between a consonant and a vowel. For example, the letters y and w in English can function as a semivowel in words like “yes”, “country”, and “sew”. In Russian, the semivowel is й.
The modifier letters in Russian are ь and ъ. The way a modifier letter works is that it modifies the pronunciation of the letter preceding it. It may also alter the sound of the following vowel.
Russian cursive is a completely different animal than Russian print, and it’s worth spending some time learning as well. But to get started reading and to be able to access resources for Russian learners, learning Russian print is enough to get started.
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My name is Shannon Kennedy and I'm the language lover, traveler, and foodie behind Eurolinguiste. I'm also the Resident Polyglot at Drops and the Head Coach of the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge.