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Why Learn Russian?

Want to learn Russian, but not sure if you want to study it during undergrad? Interested in Russian culture but feeling intimidated by a new alphabet? Read below to find out why Russian might be right for you and what new career paths speaking Russian could open up. 

Hard to Begin, Easy to Master

While the Cyrillic alphabet seems daunting to native English speakers, Russian has many surprising traits of simplicity. Polyglots agree that Russian pronunciation is more clear-cut and consistent than English, and once learned, only needs practice for mastery. 

Russian also lacks articles, which means that unlike our German department fellows, Russian-learners have one less aspect of language to memorize. The verb tenses only number three, lending further simplicity. As Russian also has a flexible word order, the language is overall not so obscure or difficult as many English-speakers might fear. 

By no means is Russian easy to learn. Its six noun cases, verbs of motion, and participles will be enough of a challenge. This challenge, however, will teach you to learn and think in new ways, and can be made use of once you earn some proficiency in the Russian language. 

Russian is the most widely spoken language of the Balto-Slavic family. Thus, if you pick up Russian, other languages such as Ukrainian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Bulgarian will all be easier to learn as well. 

Critical Language Status

The U.S. government has named Chinese, Arabic, and Russian as the three most critical languages for American citizens due to the increasingly global economy. Critical languages are considered by the American government to be imperative to national security and the globalized economy, but that have a much higher demand for speakers of the language than there is a supply. 

Among the agencies that seek expertise in Russian: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Human Development, Department of Labor, and Department of the Interior.

As of February 2023, Russian is the eighth most commonly spoken language in the world and the ninth most common internet language. Russian, ostensibly the official language of Russia, is likewise the official language of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, and it’s considered an unofficial lingua franca in Ukraine, Georgia, and many other former Soviet countries. It also numbers among the 6 official languages of the United Nations. 

Moreover, English is not much spoken in Russia and other Russian-speaking countries, making the creation of economic inroads more difficult for American companies looking to involve themselves in Eastern European trade. 

In spite of its global popularity, Russian remains an uncommon second language among Americans, and a multitude of industries are currently desperate for professionals with any level of Russian proficiency. 

“Russian continues to be one of the most in-demand languages among employers in both the public and private sectors due to its international relevance and unique versatility.”

Department of State Critical Language Scholarship Program


Encompassing 11 different time zones and 6.6 million square miles, Russia boasts a wealth of cultural and ecological diversity. 29 UNESCO sites are housed in Russia, including the Red Square and the Kremlin as well as the Altai Mountains, the White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal, and the Virgin Komi Forests. Moreover, with the number of countries aside from Russian that predominately speak 

If you wish to travel to Eastern or Central Europe to see the multitude of natural wonders available, having Russian experience will make your journey worlds more interesting and impactful, as well as simply more convenient. You will never again wish for more people to meet or more adventures. Learning Russian will open half of a continent up for your exploration and introduce you to 200 million potential language partners and friends. 

The Altai mountains--a clear blue lake sits at the mountains' feet, and green moss peaks out from under the gray, snow-capped rocks.
The Altai Mountains, or the Golden Altais as they are often called, offer an immersive experience in untouched nature. 

a growing economy

Given the current global climate and Russia's war in Ukraine, their economic situation has been somewhat complicated, but since the beginning of this century, Russia has been making an enormous push to become one of the world's economic superpowers. With a wealth of natural resources from oil to natural gas to lumber to gold, Russia will be a major player in the world economy at any given moment.

The Russian Federation, at 30 years old, is still a young country. The economy has plenty of room to grow, and American companies feel the necessity of keeping a relationship with Russian trade partners as well as those in former Soviet countries. Being the one job applicant who can speak Russian will expand your financial and professional opportunities in the workplace. 

literature & Fine Arts

Many Russian language-learners start out their journey because of an interest in its rich heritage in history and literature. Learning Russian will give you unfiltered access to a wealth of novels, poetry, plays, music, and movies that you can enjoy in their original form with their original meaning.

Famous Russian Authors, from top left to bottom right: Marina Tsvetaeva, Vladimir Nabokov, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alexander Pushkin, Anne Akhmatova, Maxim Gorky.
Famous Russian Authors, from top left to bottom right: Marina Tsvetaeva, Vladimir Nabokov, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alexander Pushkin, Anne Akhmatova, Maxim Gorky. 

Russian is the language of the novel, and learning Russian will assist future novelists both in being able to read a larger repertoire as well as in writing better themselves, whether in English or Russian. Playwrights, too, abound in the Russian canon of fine art: Chekhov, Gogol, and Pushkin are only a few masters whose works will become yet more accessible to those who take on the challenge of learning Russian. 

Science & Technology

Did you know that all inhabitants of the International Space Station speak Russian? If you are interested in scientific research, energy, or petroleum, learning Russian will be highly advantageous to your future endeavors. 

Russia has a long-standing scientific tradition, and Russian is the second most common language for scientific publications. They are especially prolific in the areas of geology, mathematics, and chemistry, and had the ninth highest output in the world for scientific papers as of 2020. Russian is also highly-valued in the fields of cybersecurity and computer science. 

Moreover, Russia is an energy superpower, holding around 40% of the world's natural gas and exporting petroleum and uranium in large amounts. While their status as an energy superpower is under pressure currently due to the Russian war in Ukraine, American companies will continue to have relationships in future decades with Russian energy partners. 

U.S. Agencies hiring russian speakers

U.S. Department of State  C.I.A.  F.B.I. 

N.S.A./C.S.S.  D.H.S.

N.A.S.A.  National Virtual Translation Center  



Critical Language Scholarship

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