Immersion in Russian

The Russian Federation is a semi-presidential republic with extensive executive powers and a multiparty system. Legislative authority resides in two houses of the Federal Assembly, and executive power is exercised by the Government, which is headed by a Prime Minister appointed by the President with parliament’s approval. In addition to its domestic institutions, the Federation also maintains a number of international organizations.

Russia’s geographic landscape is vast and diverse. Its northern frontier stretches well past the Arctic Circle and its eastern border is defined by two seas, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, with frontages at St. Petersburg and the detached oblast (region) of Kaliningrad, which borders Poland and Lithuania. To the south, the country abuts North Korea, China, and Mongolia; in the west it adjoins Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan; and to the southeast it shares a frontier with Ukraine and the Caucasus states of Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The Soviet Union’s administrative territorial divisions were retained in the formation of the Federation, which is composed of twenty-two republics, nine krais (territories), forty-six oblasts (provinces), one autonomous oblast, and three cities of federal designation. The 1993 constitution provides that the nonrepublic jurisdictions, with the exception of Chechnya, be equal in their relations with the central agencies of state power. A provision for equal representation in the Federation Council for all eighty-nine jurisdictions further equalizes them.

If you’re serious about learning to speak Russian, find a teacher who can help you. It’s possible to learn the language yourself, but it takes a lot of mental energy and will take you much longer to master. All those cases, verbs of motion, aspects of verbs and all that can be overwhelming to someone just beginning.

Immersion is also helpful for beginners. Listening to Russian music, radio and watching television can be an easy way to practice your vocabulary and hear the language in action. Online magazines and news can also be useful. However, be careful to avoid media you find boring. You don’t want to be demotivated from learning Russian.

Podcasts are another great tool for immersion. They are often organized by proficiency level and can range from beginner to advanced. There are even apps for sorting and listening to Russian podcasts. Finding shows you enjoy is important though, as you will be motivated to keep practicing if you are surrounded by things that interest you and make use of your new language. Russian children’s shows are a good place to start, and you can move on to adult ones as your skills develop. Russian TV is another possibility, but finding something you can watch with subtitles or in the original can be difficult. A lot of Russian shows are available on YouTube, but some aren’t suitable for learners.