Learning Russian can be quite a challenging endeavor. Fortunately, the rewards of speaking a second language make this a very worthwhile challenge. How wonderful it is to be able to communicate effectively with people from very different cultures! You can learn so much from people around the world, gaining a deeper understanding of humankind and becoming a part of a global community. In addition to personal growth, learning Russian can help in your professional life. Bilingual people have an extra advantage in the workplace. They can do business with clients and associates with whom other employees would find communication a struggle, if not impossible. Fluency in Russian makes you an asset to an employer.
How should you go about learning Russian? Everyone learns differently, and there are several different methods from which to choose. You can take classes, study from books, or listen to audio recordings. It is probably not a bad idea to use as many of these methods as you have available. No matter which you choose, there is one other method that you should absolutely incorporate into your studies: Speaking and communicating in writing with native Russian speakers. Having a language partner who is a native Russian speaker will teach you fluency. You'll hear how real people speak in everyday life, not the stiff, formal textbook sentences that you might learn from a book or a class. You'll become familiar with the correct dialect and accent, accustomed to speaking comfortably, using slang and common expressions, and learn firsthand about Russian culture. Unlike in a classroom, you will have plenty of time for one-on-one discussions, each communication developing both your ability to speak Russian and your ability to understand a Russian speaker.
Conversing and learning with a native Russian speaker is the most valuable of all the methods available. No amount of reading and writing can give you the real-life learning experience that you will get from speaking with a native Russian. And perhaps the best part of all is that through this special experience, you will also be making a new friend.