Reading Russian can be an intimidating proposition, but it turns out the the Cyrillic alphabet (the official name of the Russian alphabet) isn’t so hard after all. Really, anybody can learn to read Russian fairly quickly given the right approach. If you look through the alphabet, you’ll see quite a few letters you recognize. Some of those a pronounced exactly as you would expect (for example, A – T – O – M spells “atom” in Russian and in English. And “k” is like our “k” as well. So, “Koma” is how Russians spell “coma”.
But other letters in the Cyrillic alphabet that look like English letters have unexpected pronunciations. H sounds like our “N”, for example. “B” in Cyrillic sounds like a “V” sound. So, although those can be confusing for your brain at first, they’re still easy enough. The toughest ones for beginners are usually the completely foreign-looking letters, like Ж and Э. But with the right method, those are easily absorbed as well. The trick is to see them in the context of other letters you know. For example:
The MiraЖ Hotel in Las Vegas is my favorite hotel.
Or: Why is my car on the street? You should have parked it in the garaЖ.
So, from context, we see that the Russian letter Ж must be pronounced as “zh”.
If I told you that the Russian letter “C” is pronounced like our C, in the words “Face” and “Citrus”, could you then read th following Russian word: Массаж
That’s right. “Massage.”
Is reading Russian really that tough?
Let’s try to learn one more new, alien-looking letter from context:
McDonalds is my фavorite фast фood restaurant.
Did you guess that the Russian letter ф is pronounced just like our “F”? So now, you should be able to read the following (or should I say, “фollowing”) Russian word:
As in, Can I borrow your camera? I want to take a фото of my dog and send it to Grandma.
So, фото is the Russian word for photo.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to teach you the whole Russian alphabet. But I simply wanted to show you that it isn’t hard, if you’re taught the right way. If you like this approach and would like to truly master reading Russian, please check out the Russian Accelerator course! I highly recommend it!