Thursday, May 06, 2010

Travel in Russia - Moscow and St. Petersburg

Following we will discuss the two main cities for travel in Russia: Moscow and St. Petersburg. If you are planning to visit Russia, a few Russian lessons may come in handy. You can find an array of Russian lessons free if you perform a search for Russian lessons free online.

Following we will discuss the two main cities for travel in Russia: Moscow and St. Petersburg. If you are planning to visit Russia, a few Russian lessons may come in handy. You can find an array of Russian lessons free if you perform a search for Russian lessons free online.


Moscow is the capital of Russia. The first mention of this city refers to 1147. The founder of Moscow was Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy (“Long-armed Yuri”). Moscow is the economic, political and scientific center of Russia. This city has a stunning architecture, numerous theaters, cinemas, concert halls, museums and exhibitions. This city holds major festivals, international competitions and sporting events.

Moscow Museums

Moscow has numerous museums for every taste; these maintain a centuries-old history of the Russian capital. The Moscow Kremlin is the most famous museum. Second is the Pushkin Museum – a striking museum of fine arts that exhibit European and world art. The third spot is taken by the Tretyakov Gallery, which holds the largest collection of fine Russian art.

Moscow Attractions

Red Square: This is the central square in Moscow, the history of which began in the 15th century. It is located at the east wall of the Moscow Kremlin. Red in Russian is “krasnyi” – this is one of the first words that you may learn at Russian lessons.

St. Basil’s Cathedral: This cathedral dates to the times of Ivan the Terrible. It is located on Red Square.

The Church of the Ascension: This tent-type temple was erected in the Kolomna village in the 15th century.

Novodevichy Convent: This monastery was founded by Grand Prince Vasili III in 1524.

The Cathedral of Christ the Savior: This large temple was built to thank God for saving Russia from the Napoleon invasion.

Bolshoi Theatre: One of the most significant opera and ballet theaters in the world. It dates to 1776. It is located in the center of Moscow, on the Theater Square. In Russian, Bolshoi means big – this is a common word that people learn with Russian lessons online.

Seven Sisters: These are seven skyscrapers built by Stalin in the late 1940’s-early 1950’s as a symbol of the Soviet people’s power.

Moscow Zoo: This zoo was founded in 1864. It is the largest zoo in Russia, with several thousand varied unique animals.

Donskoy Monastery: This monastery was founded in 1591 by Tsar Feodor I to honor the victory in the Battle of Kulikovo. This victory saved Moscow from the Golden Horde.

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, which was founded in 1703 by the first Russian emperor Peter I. This city is often called the “northern capital” and “cultural capital” of Russia. It is a major destination for travel in Russia. St. Petersburg is a “city of water” – it has about 100 rivers, 20 canals and 800 bridges.

St. Petersburg Museums

The northern capital has over 200 museums, the most famous being Hermitage – one of the largest museums in the world.

The State Hermitage Museum: The largest art museum in the world. Hermitage holds numerous masterpieces of world art.

Russian Museum: the first state museum of Russian art; it was founded in 1895.

Kunstkamera (Kunstkammer): The first museum in Russia, which was established in 1719 by the Emperor - Peter I. This museum stores various wonders.

Saint Petersburg Sights

Peter and Paul Fortress: The oldest landmark in St. Petersburg. The city’s history began with the erection of this fortress on the banks of the Neva River.

St. Isaac's Cathedral: This Orthodox Church is one of the main attractions in Russia. It is a prominent example of Russian religious art.

The Cruiser “Aurora”: This is a legendary symbol of the Soviet era. The cruiser is open to visitors; it is moored at the Petrograd embankment.

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood: This temple was built where the Emperor Alexander II was assassinated. The temple has a unique mosaic interior and exterior.

The Smolny Cathedral: One of the most beautiful temples in the city built in the style of lush Elizabethan Baroque in 1748-1764.

The Summer Garden (Letniy Sad): This stunning garden was founded in 1704 by the order of Peter I, who took part in the garden’s design. “Letniy sad” (summer garden) is yet another nice phrase to master at Russian lessons free online.

The Bronze Horseman: The first statue of Peter I, mounted on the Decembrists Square (formerly the Senate Square). It is one of the city’s symbols.

The Russian Admiralty: Admiralty was built in 1704 by the Emperor - Peter I, as the main shipyard in Russia. Admiralty is a masterpiece of Russian Classicism, and one of the city’s symbols.

Russian Slang Development and Examples

Here is one excellent example of Russian slang: “the roof has slid off” – this refers to someone as a house, and to their head as the roof. Thus, if someone’s “roof has slid off” – it means that they have gone crazy...

The Russian language is constantly changing, mainly due to borrowing words from other languages, as well as due to constant changes in Russian slang. In this article, we will talk about Russian slang, as well as provide a list of popular slang words. People, who learn Russian, often master several fun slang words. These words can be located when you learn Russian online, since online courses tend to be more relaxed than those offered in brick-and-mortar schools.

Within the last 30-40 years, the Russian language has changed so much that a person from the 70s or 80s could have trouble understanding the modern person. Following we will discuss the recent history of the Russian language and slang.

The 20th century brought 2 major social upheavals to Russia - revolution and perestroika, which have affected the people and language. The USSR authorities used the language as a tool for brainwashing. In Soviet times, the language featured diglossia – the coexistence of two linguistic forms for different uses. George Orwell named the language pushed by the Soviet government - newspeak. Also, the society used vernacular language and slang. Newspeak was used in speeches, newspapers and at Party meetings; regular speech was used in kitchens and courtyards.

During Gorbachev's perestroika, linguistic boundaries started to vanish. Gorbachev’s and Yeltsin’s public speeches combined literary and vernacular language, and newspeak. Most modern Russian politicians have a unique lexicon – their linguistic specifics form their image and serve as a topic for parodies.

The modern Russian speech uses slang, jargon, professionalisms, and curse words. Curse words (mat) are taboo; however, they can be used for swearing, in "unofficial" talks, and to show the freedom of expression and emancipation.

Russians made numerous “borrowings” from English; America's influence is very strong here. This influence is the result of the vanished borders and boundaries, including the internal ones. The popular English “borrowings” include: a model, printer, computer, broker, dealer, joker, and even sales manager. Many “borrowings” turned into Russian slang: girla (girl), drink (a drink, beverage), etc. Russia has been taking words from other languages for countless centuries: Tatar, Mongol, Greek, Latin, French, German, and many others.

So, what is slang? We can learn this by comparing it to other types of speech. Vocabulary language is divided into literary (book words, standard spoken words and neutral words) and colloquial (professionalisms, vulgarisms, jargon, and slang). Professionalisms are used by professionals. Vulgarisms are harsh words and curses. Jargon is meant to be incomprehensible for outsiders. Slang is an ironic breach of the standard language. Slang is expressive and metaphorical. It is used mainly in the spoken language.

Here is one excellent example of Russian slang: “the roof has slid off” – this refers to someone as a house, and to their head as the roof. Thus, if someone’s “roof has slid off” – it means that they have gone crazy. Once this phrase started to “fade” in its vivid “color,” people came up with new variants: “the roof is running,” “the roof drove off,” and “the roof flew away.” This resulted in associations: psychiatrists started to be called “roofers.”

The modern Russian slang has spread to all sectors of society: the nicknames of modern politicians turn to slang; comedians coin new slang expressions; Russian students come up with fresh youth slang ideas. Following we will list the slang words that you can hear in Russia today (the words in braces are the literal meaning of the normal word that was used to make a slang word):

ás'ka - ICQ
bábki (little cakes) - 'the dough'
Blin! (little pancake) - Darn!
vtjúrit'sja - to fall in love
Da nu! - You don't say!
durdóm (fool house) - the funny farm
zélen' (greens) - green bucks, the US Dollar
Inét - Internet (short)
Kakógo chërta! (what a devil!) - What the heck!
kapústa (cabbage) - cash, money
klássno (classy) - nice, cool
klëvo - cool
komp – computer (short)
krúto (steep) - awesome
mobílnik - cell phone
naveselé (in the cheer) - a bit drunk, tipsy
Obaldét' (to go crazy) - Gosh! Jeez! Wow!
oy! – sound of being surprised; ouch!, a sigh
Poékhali! - Let's go!
prédki (ancestors) - parents, folks
prikíd - a getup, an outfit
Prikín'! - 'Just imagine...'
prikól (a moor) - 'funny stuff'
s privétom ('with regards') - a weak mind
táchka (wheelbarrow) - a car
télik – TV
tuftá – trifle, nonsense
Chërt poberí ('Devil take') 'Darnit!'
chush' - rubbish, lies, stupid ideas
shmótki - clothes
shtúka (thing) - 1000 rubles

As you can see, there is quite a number of funny Russian slang words that you may want to master when you learn Russian. Today, it has become possible to learn Russian free – all you need to do is perform a search for “learn Russian free online”.

The Diversity of Russian Geography

Russia’s border is 37,000 miles (60,000 km). The sea border is around 25,000 miles (40,000 km); the land border is around 12,000 miles (20,000 km).

In this article, we will elaborate on the diversity of Russian geography. This topic may be of specific interest for those who want to learn Russian or visit this country. It has become so popular to learn Russian online that you can even learn Russian free at some sites.

The Russian Federation is the largest country in the world by area – its territory is a little over 6.5 million square miles (17 million square kilometers). Russia is located in the eastern and western parts of Eurasia. About 30% of Russia lies in Europe, and around 70% lie in Asia. The country has 10 time zones.

Extreme Points: The extreme northern continental point of Russia is Cape Chelyuskin (Taimyr Peninsula). The extreme island northern point is Cape Fligely (Franz Josef archipelago). The furthest southern continental point is the Caucasus Mountains. The extreme western point is the Curonian Spit (in the Baltic Sea). The extreme eastern continental point is Cape Dezhnev (Chukotka). The furthest eastern island point is in the Bering Sea, near the US border.

Borders: Russia’s border is 37,000 miles (60,000 km). The sea border is around 25,000 miles (40,000 km); the land border is around 12,000 miles (20,000 km).

Sea Borders: Russia’s northern sea borders lie in the seas of the Arctic Ocean. The Eastern sea border lies in the seas of the Pacific Ocean; it borders Japan and the U.S. The Western sea border is in the Baltic Sea; it borders Sweden, Poland, Germany and the Baltic States. The South-western sea border lies in the Azov, Caspian and Black Seas; it borders Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania.

Land Borders: Russia has land borders with 14 countries: China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Finland, Norway and China.

Border Claims: Four countries (Japan, Estonia, Latvia and Finland) make claims to Russian borders. Japan claims several Kuril Islands; Estonia claims the Pechora region; Latvia claims the Pytalovsky District; Finland claims the lands of Karelia.


Great Russian Plain (East European Plain): The largest cities include Moscow and St. Petersburg. The landscape is tundra, forest-steppe, steppe, and semi-desert. Large rivers include Onega, Pechora, Dnieper, Dniester, Dvina, Don, Volga, and Ural. This area is the center of modern Russia.

West Siberian Plain: The largest cities include Novosibirsk, Omsk, Tomsk, and Tyumen. The landscape is tundra, forest tundra, and taiga. Large rivers include Ob, Irtysh, and Yenisei. This area has large deposits of oil and gas.

Central Siberian Plateau: The largest cities include Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Chita, and Ulan-Ude. Large rivers include Lena and Amur.


Caucasus Mountains: This area has many resorts, and is popular for mountain climbing. The highest mountain in Russia – Elbrus, is located in Caucasus.

Ural Mountains: The largest cities include Yekaterinburg and Perm. Major roads and railways connect the European part of Russia with the Asian.

Other large mountain ranges include Altai and Kamchatka.


Russia is washed by 12 seas of 3 oceans, but it does not have access to the open ocean.

Arctic Ocean’s Seas: the Barents, White, Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi Seas.

Atlantic Ocean’s Seas: the Baltic Sea (Saint-Petersburg and Kaliningrad ports), Black Sea (major recreational area), and Azov Sea.

Pacific Ocean’s Seas: the Bering Sea (port Anadyr, the capital of Chukotka), Okhotsk (port Magadan), and Japan Sea (port Vladivostok).


Islands: Novaya Zemlya (the Arctic Ocean), Sakhalin (the Okhotsk and Japan Seas); Kuril Islands (the Pacific); Solovetsky Islands (the White Sea).


Russia has about 3 million freshwater and saline lakes.

The Caspian Sea: the largest lake in the world that washes the shores of Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Azerbaijan.

Baikal: the deepest lake in the world, the 8th in the world by its area. It is located in eastern Siberia. It has 20% of all the freshwater on the globe.

Lake Ladoga: the largest lake in Europe. It is located near St. Petersburg.

Lake Onega: The small island of Kizhi has Russian wooden churches and homes from the 14th century.

Lake Peipsi: this lake borders Estonia. In 1242, the ice of Peipsi saw a glorious battle of Russian troops (led by Prince Alexander Nevsky) with Teutonic Knights.


Russia has 120,000 rivers longer than 6 miles (10 km); most are in the basin of the Arctic Ocean. The largest rivers are Ob, Irtysh, Yenisei, Lena, and Volga. Volga is the longest river in Europe. Russians call it “matushka” (mother – when you learn Russian online, this is one of the first words to master.) Russian rivers and seas are popular for fishing. In winter, anglers often get lost at sea on breakaway ice floes, and need to be rescued.

We hope that the country’s geography will tempt you to learn Russian. Please keep in mind that you can learn Russian free online.

Core Elements of the Russian Economy

Russia dominates a number of spheres in the world: it’s 2nd by oil production and export; 1st by natural gas production and export; 1st by the production of aluminum, alumina, nickel, palladium, and titanium; 1st by diamond mining. It has one of the world’s largest uranium deposits, as well as copper and silver reserves...

Following we will elaborate on the main facets of the Russian economy. On the whole, the country is doing better than ever before, even considering the effects of the global crisis. Russia is one of the most promising countries in the world, which entices many people to learn more about it. Some people even take Russian lessons. Note that you don’t need to pay for Russian lessons online; there are a number of Russian lessons free online.

Russia’s economy is heir to the Soviet economy, which underwent substantial changes in the 90’s – after the collapse of the USSR. The main sectors of the Russian economy are: the service sector (49% of GDP), manufacturing (16% of GDP), mining (9.0% of GDP), construction (5% of GDP), agriculture, forestry and fisheries (4% of GDP), production and distribution of electricity, gas and water (3% of GDP).

Let’s take a look at this country’s wealth by area. Western Siberia is rich in oil and gas. Eastern Siberia is renowned for hydropower, nonferrous metallurgy, and the forest industry. The Far East is rich in gold, diamonds, and seafood. The Northern region has coal, oil, gas, metals, forests, and fish. The Central Black Soil Region and Northern Caucasus are known for their agriculture and food industry. North-West, Center, Volga-Vyatka, Ural, and Volga have prominent engineering, chemical industries, and energy production.

Russia dominates a number of spheres in the world: it’s 2nd by oil production and export; 1st by natural gas production and export; 1st by the production of aluminum, alumina, nickel, palladium, and titanium; 1st by diamond mining. It has one of the world’s largest uranium deposits, as well as copper and silver reserves. By electricity production, it’s 4th. By the length of railways, Russia ranks #2 in the world after the United States. By the length of highways, it takes 10th place in the world. Russia owns the world’s largest system of oil pipelines. The country is 5th in the world by the number of landline phones, 4th by the number of cell phones, and 8th by the number of Internet users.

Russia is the largest producer of cars in Eastern Europe, and 11th among heavy truck manufacturers in the world. The country has dozens of auto factories that produce cars under the following major brands: Volkswagen, Skoda, BMW, Ford, Renault, Toyota, Chevrolet, Peugeot-Citroen-Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Kia, and Volvo Truck.

The main food products produced in this country are: meat, sausages, fish products, vegetable oil, tea, wine, beer and mineral water. Russia exports beer to around 50 world countries. The country has one of the world’s leading agricultural machinery manufacturers; 10% of the world’s arable lands are in Russia. Main crops grown here are: grains, sugar beet, sunflower, potato, and flax. The main grain for export is wheat.

Russia’s main exports are oil, gas, coal, steel, non-ferrous metals (aluminum, nickel, and copper), machinery, equipment, weapons, chemical fertilizers, and wheat. Russia’s main imports are: industrial machinery and equipment, cars and trucks, medicines, clothing and footwear.

Russia has numerous resorts, mainly on the Black Sea and in Caucasus. The popular tourist areas are: Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, the cities of the Golden Ring, Volga River, and Lake Baikal.

Russia’s poor are able-bodied inhabitants of villages and small towns, who have children. The country has a high proportion of residents at or below the official poverty line among education, culture and health workers. One of the major problems of contemporary Russia is a large difference in income between the rich and poor.

In late 2008 and early 2009, the Russian economy was hurt by the world crisis. Exports and imports declined, and cheap loans became out of reach. The crisis has triggered Russia’s stock market collapse, ruble devaluation, reduced GDP, lower income, and higher unemployment. Yet, the losses were lower than anticipated at the beginning of the crisis. In part this is due to the large-scale anti-crisis measures taken by the country’s government.

The main trade partners among foreign countries are: Germany, Netherlands, China, Italy, Turkey, Japan, Poland, Britain, and Finland. Russia’s investment attractiveness is constantly growing. It’s the 4th among countries considered the most attractive for future foreign investment by multinational corporations. Russia has an enormous amount of U.S. Treasury bonds; it is one of the largest creditors of the USA. Russia is 2nd in the world by foreign investment (after Saudi Arabia). The country’s external public debt is one of the lowest in the world.

If you have become enticed to take some Russian lessons online, you may find it useful to look for Russian lessons free online. A number of Russian lessons free are as good as or even better than paid ones.

Russian Cuisine and the Most Popular Courses

Russians serve soup as the first course at a dinner or supper. Soups can be served hot or chilled. Popular hot soups include the nourishing borscht (red beetroot soup) and cabbage soup. The traditional Russian cold soup is “okroshka”...

Russian cuisine is admired throughout the world. It is typically associated with pancakes, caviar, dumplings, and borsch; however, there are other tasty meals that this country can boast. Russia is a large country with diverse climates, and so its cuisine varies by region. Russian cuisine has absorbed numerous courses from its neighbors, as well as the other members of the former USSR. Many Russian meals are easy to cook – they do not require any special skills, ingredients, or equipment. In this article, we will list the most popular meals for you to try. These delicacies may even tempt you to learn Russian (the easiest way is to learn Russian online), and visit the country to taste them.

Soups: Russians serve soup as the first course at a dinner or supper. Soups can be served hot or chilled. Popular hot soups include the nourishing borscht (red beetroot soup) and cabbage soup. The traditional Russian cold soup is “okroshka” (you can master this fun word if you learn Russian); this soup is made of finely cut cucumber, egg, meat, radish, and dill, and served with kvass or kefir. Broths are not too popular here.

Pastry: Pastry takes a special place in Russian cuisine. One of the ancient local traditions was to welcome guests with bread and salt. The traditional pastry includes pies, pancakes, and cakes. Pies can be stuffed with berries, mushrooms, meat or cheese. The variety of breads is astounding.

Meats: The harsh climate made hot meat courses (pork, beef, poultry, and game) very common in this country. The Russian national cuisine can boast of numerous meat courses, including cutlets (minced meat patties), steaks, chops, and goulash; these are served with potatoes or noodles. Meats can be stewed or roasted; eggs can be beaten, boiled, and fried; eggs are used as an ingredient in other meals. In ancient times, beef and horse meat were banned in Russia.

Fish: The popularity of fish here can be explained by lengthy Christian fasts that do not allow eating meat, dairy, and eggs; most fasts permit fish. Religious fasts coincide with the times of the year when peasant food supplies would come to an end, forcing them to start eating wild berries, mushrooms and fish. Popular fish includes sturgeon and trout. Fish is steamed, boiled, fried, stewed, baked, smoked, salted, dried, and jellied. It is often stuffed with fillings, such as oatmeal or mushrooms. Caviar can be salted or boiled in vinegar.

Porridge: Porridge is a traditional Russian meal that is still very common here. Popular grains include: millet, rye, barley, oat, wheat (semolina), and buckwheat. Porridge is usually served with a lot of butter. “Kasha” (porridge) is one of the first words that one will master when they learn Russian online.

Vegetables: In ancient times, the most common vegetable here was the turnip – it served as a garnish before potatoes became popular; one fairy tale of those days features a giant turnip (“repa”). Other popular vegetables include cabbage (often used in sauerkraut), radish, and potatoes. Potatoes are the favorite. Raw vegetables are not used too often. Vegetables can be used in vegetable porridges, cakes, and stews, with or without meat.

Fruits: Fruits are used in fruit juices and drinks made of boiled fruits (kompot and uzvar). Fruits are also used in deserts, such as mousses and jellies. Dried fruits are also popular.

Deserts: Some of the favorite deserts are sweet rolls, cakes, jams, honey, as well as baked apples, fruits and berries. Popular modern deserts are small cheese pancakes with sour cream. Old Russian sweets were different from the modern. Two good examples of ancient Russian sweets are: carrots cooked in honey and crushed berries dried in an oven (shaped as pellets).

Flavorings: Sour cream is a popular seasoning for deserts and all other courses, including soups, dumplings and salads. Another popular seasoning for deserts and main courses is butter, which can be used to butter pancakes, pies, and sandwiches.

Seasonings: Russian courses are often flavored with herbs and spices: fennel, parsley, celery, mustard, onion, and garlic.

Drinks: Popular drinks include kvass, fruit drinks, mead, beer, and vodka.

Pickled foods: These include a number of pickled vegetables and pickled mushrooms.

Borrowed food: Russia has borrowed a number of foods from other countries: tea, dumplings (pelmeni), shashlik, roasted meats, potatoes, beef Stroganov, and Olivier (Russian salad).

Kitchenware: Traditional kitchenware from the past was bowls and wooden spoons. Foods were cooked in clay pots, in ovens. Tea was made in samovars.

If you visit Russia, the hosts are likely to welcome you with a number of traditional Russian meals. You could amaze them by a word or two in Russian, such as “spasibo” (thank you.) Today, it is easy to learn Russian free, as a number of websites offer the opportunity to learn Russian free online.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Norwegian lessons, Tagalog UI

New language lessons: Norwegian! - not yet with audio. Audio will come soon.

Also the site is translated to Tagalog:

What's in plans:
- Swedish audio
- Swahili audio
- Norwegian audio
- Tagalog lessons

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Russian Culture - Keeping Abreast with Times

Historians believe that Russia appeared in the 9th century. However, even before then the Slavic tribes lived on the territory of the modern Russian Federation and far beyond. The religious belief of the country was paganism.

The Russian culture is very distinct. Millions of people worldwide are captivated by its richness, cosmopolitism, and tolerance to other cultures. Russians have always been open to other nationalities and beliefs. The Russian language is similar to the culture and the nation itself – it is rich and adaptive. Mastering Russian does have a learning curve to it; yet, you can find some excellent Russian lessons that can help you dive into this unique language with little effort. The modern Russian lessons online (including the Russian free lessons online) can help you advance to any level you desire to achieve, whether it’s learning a few phrases or being able to read the Russian classics in original. In this article, we will talk about what makes this culture so unique and friendly.

Historians believe that Russia appeared in the 9th century. However, even before then the Slavic tribes lived on the territory of the modern Russian Federation and far beyond. The religious belief of the country was paganism – believing in multiple Gods (God of Sun, Water, Nature, Animal World, etc.). The cultural artifacts of those days include numerous architectural, literature and iconographic artifacts. A very popular form of art then was ancient sewing known as “needle painting”. The Slavic language of those days was first built on the Glagolitic and later the Cyrillic alphabet. The culture of the country consisted of verbal folk tales (bylinas), fairy tales, and songs praising peasant-warriors and describing the life of people. Many Russian bylinas and fairy tales of those days were adapted for modern animation films and movies. Some Russian poets made poetical interpretations thereof.

During the 9-13th centuries, the scattered tribes started to come together and unite under the Kievan Rus. Christianity that came to Russia in the 10th century blended with paganism. Christianity also brought writing into the country and further enriched its culture. In the 12th century, Kievan Rus was attacked by Tatars and Mongols. Kiev, Vladimir, Ryazan, Chernigov, and other major cities were destroyed. The Russian principalities started to pay an annual tribute to the Horde. As odd as it may sound, there were some cultural benefits to being mixed with another culture for 200 years. The Mongol-Tatar yoke enriched the Russian culture. Russians have studied the Asian mentality and learned new concepts, crafts, technologies, and words. They have also begun to overcome their fragmentation. After a crushing defeat in 1396, the Golden Horde was unable to recover. The power of the Horde over Russia faltered.

Next, Russia’s culture was changing and evolving under the reign of a number of unique rulers, such as Ivan IV, Peter I, Catherine II, and Alexander I, among others. Each ruler was unique; many of them helped Russia come closer to its numerous neighbors. Peter I (1672–1725) was the first to “open a window to the West”. He invited numerous Western scientists, architects, and artists to work in the country. He also ordered the translation of numerous prominent Western texts into Russian. Catherine II continued his efforts. This period created myriads of cultural artifacts, such as architectural, literature, and scientific.

The “window to Europe” closed shut during the days of the Soviet Union – 1922 to 1991, but the majority of the nation could not take the “iron curtain” for too long. The Soviet Union left a large cultural heritage. The country’s sports, arts, and science were on the rise, and served as the basis for the country to enter a new era.

As one can see, the uniqueness of the Russian culture comes from the fact that Russians have experienced all sorts of influences. They were developing as scattered tribes for thousands of years, they soaked in the invasion, and they were interacting with Europeans and Asians for several centuries after defeating the yoke. Countless thousands of Russian words originate from Turkic, Greek, Latin, French, and English. The well-known items that can represent Russia today include: Balalaika (musical instrument), Ushanka (hat), Matryoshka (doll), Garmoshka (musical instrument), Vodka (alcoholic beverage), Selyodka (herring), Kotlety (cutlets), Caviar, Borsch (soup), Russian salad, Vatrushka (sweet cake), Okroshka (salad with kvass), Valenki (shoes), and Samovar (teapot). Russians are a friendly multinational nation with a rich culture.

Today, the Russian “windows” are wide open to the views, beliefs, and cultures of the rest of the world. The uniqueness and friendliness of the Russian culture makes learning the Russian language extremely popular. Many people realize that the current turbulence in the country is a temporary setback, and that it makes sense to start building relationships with this nation now. Russian lessons are very popular, and Russian lessons online are the easiest to use. Moreover, the Internet has created many dedicated sites that offer Russian free lessons online, which make the most sense to take advantage of.

Russia - The Country with Most Boarders in the World

Quick Facts: By total area, Russia is the largest country in the world. By population, it is the 9th largest country. Russians comprise 80% of the country’s population. The country borders with 18 other countries, which is the highest number of boarders in the world.

It has become popular to learn Russian, and it’s no wonder. The Russian language is spoken by almost 300 million people, and learning it can open the doors to a number of countries and communities. Lessons are available both, as Russian lessons online and in person. One can even find Russian free lessons online. Following is some fascinating information about this country, which may spark your interest in taking Russian lessons.

Quick Facts: By total area, Russia is the largest country in the world. By population, it is the 9th largest country. Russians comprise 80% of the country’s population. The country borders with 18 other countries, which is the highest number of boarders in the world. Almost 3/4 of the population lives in cities. The Russian Federation is in the UN, CIS, CAC, CSTO, SCO, APEC and a number of other global organizations. Russia has 11 cities with over 1 million people: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Kazan, Rostov-on-Don, and Ufa. The capital of Russia is Moscow; the President is Dmitry Medvedev; the Prime Minister is Vladimir Putin.

Former Names of Russia (in chronological order): the Kievan Rus, Grand Duchy of Vladimir, Principality of Moscow, Grand Duchy of Moscow, Tsardom of Russia, Russian Empire, Russian Republic, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and The Russian Federation (current).

Former Capitals of Russia (in chronological order): Novgorod, Kiev, Vladimir, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Moscow (current).

Natural Resources: Russia has the world’s largest amount of mineral and energy resources, as well as the most forests, and the most fresh water lakes in the world. Russia has the world’s largest gas reserve. It shares the first two positions in global oil production. The country is also rich in coal, iron ore, bauxite, nickel, tin, gold, diamonds, platinum, lead, and zinc.

Russia is located in Eurasia (Eastern Europe and Northern Asia). It is washed by the Pacific and Arctic oceans, as well as the Baltic, Black, Azov and Caspian seas. It has the longest coastline in the world. The country has more than 120 thousand rivers and about 2 million lakes. The largest rivers are Amur, Lena, Yenisei, Irtysh, Ob, Volga, and Kama; the largest lakes are Caspian Sea, Baikal, Ladoga, and Onega. The country’s rivers have traditionally played an essential role as transport routes; most major cities are built on river banks.

More than 2/3 of the territory is plains and lowlands; over 40% of the territory is covered by forest. The country’s climate zones include: arctic, subarctic, temperate, and partly subtopic. The largest part of the country is in the temperate zone. Depending on the region, the average temperature in January ranges from 6 to -50 degrees C (43 to -58 degrees F), and in July it ranges from 1 to 25 degrees C (34 to 77 degrees F). Permafrost areas (Siberia and Far East) take up 65% of the territory. Russia has a very wide animal diversity, including polar bears, walruses, tigers, leopards, and others. The country has 35 national parks and 84 reserves.

Most of the country’s population lives in a triangle with the best climate; that triangle is formed by St. Petersburg in the north, Sochi in the south and Irkutsk in the east. Siberia covers almost 3/4 of Russia, and has the least amount of people living there.

Russia has more than 100 languages and dialects used on its territory. The most widely spoken languages are Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Armenian, German, Tatar, Chuvash, Bashkir, and Chechen. Russian is the native language for about 130 million citizens (92% of the population). Russian is the most widespread Slavic language, and one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It belongs to the East Slavic group, together with Ukrainian and Belarusian. The Russian language uses a Cyrillic alphabet.

The amount of Russian citizens, who consider themselves Orthodox, is 75%. Russia’s most widespread religions are Christianity (mainly Orthodox), Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, paganism and others. Russia’s Constitution guarantees the “freedom of religion, including the right to profess… any religion or profess no religion, to freely choose, possess and distribute religious and other convictions and act in accordance with them.”

The number of radio broadcast stations in the country is almost 2,000; the number of television broadcast stations is over 7,000; the number of Internet users is over 50 million. The country is world-renowned in art, literature, architecture, music, theatre, cinema, animation, and sports.

Knowing the above, it is easy to understand why millions of people have chosen to learn Russian. Some choose to learn Russian online, while others take Russian lessons with private tutors or in classes. While most tutors and classes are paid, one can learn Russian online free at a number of websites.

Russian Culture Overview - from Art to Cuisine

The Russian culture is recognized as one of the world’s richest cultures, and it is popular to learn Russian today. Not only can you learn Russian online – you can learn Russian online free. In this article, we will elaborate on the Russian history, culture, art, cuisine, and more.

The Russian culture is recognized as one of the world’s richest cultures, and it is popular to learn Russian today. Not only can you learn Russian online – you can learn Russian online free. In this article, we will elaborate on the Russian history, culture, art, cuisine, and more.

It all started in the 9th century - the time of the Kievan Rus (882-1240). Back then, the Russians were faithful to traditions, and had a dual religion – the blend of Christianity and paganism. The next major period was the Tatar-Mongol Yoke (1223-1480). In that period, the Orthodox Church was on the rise and dual religion started to cease. Following were the rulings of Ivan the Terrible, Alexei Romanov, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Alexander I. The following periods were marked by famous writers and poets: Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, and Tolstoy.

The next major period was the USSR (1922-1991). The USSR culture combined the cultures of all peoples living on its territory (Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Georgians, etc.).

Today, Russia is restoring the culture of the Russian Empire and integrating it into modern life. The modern culture has accepted the values of the western and eastern civilizations. Russia is a multinational state – in addition to Russians (80%), the Russian Federation is home to over 180 other nationalities.

Russian Culture Overview:

Folk Culture: Russian epics tell the folk wisdom from the depth of centuries. The main characters in the epics were mighty peasant-warriors. Russian folk music is rhymes that are usually passed on verbally.

Folk Crafts: Russia has numerous folk crafts. For instance, A Khokhloma painting is a decorative painting in black and red on gold-tinted wood. Traditional ornaments are rowan berries, strawberries, flowers, twigs, birds and fish. A Gorodetskaya painting depicts life scenes, animals, and floral patterns, in black and white strokes. Filigree is a delicate patterning of fine wire (gold, silver), with the addition of silver or gold beads and enamel. Kasli casting is sculpture and grilles of cast iron and bronze.

Matryoshka (nesting doll): This is a Russian wooden toy - a painted hollow doll, inside of which are smaller dolls. Traditional nesting dolls depict peasant girls.

Icons: Russian icons inherited traditions of Byzantine masters, and obtained their own style also.

Painting: Famous Russian artists include Levitsky, Kiprensky, Bryullov, Ivanov, Vasnetsov, Kramskoy, Shishkin, Kuindzhi, Surikov, Repin, Savrasov, Vrubel, Petrov-Vodkin, Roerich, Levitan, Kandinsky, Malevich, Chagall, and Filonov.

Art Museums: The most famous art museums and galleries in Russia are: The State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow), the State Hermitage and Russian Museum (St. Petersburg).

Literature: Russian literature reflects the moral and spiritual values of the Russians. The most famous writers are: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bunin, Nabokov, Turgenev, and Chekhov. The most famous poets are: Pushkin, Lermontov, Blok, Yesenin, Akhmatova, and Mayakovski. The most famous modern authors are Akunin and Pelevin.

Theater: Russia’s theaters are famous worldwide; the most famous are the Mariinsky Theatre, the Bolshoi Theatre and Maly Theatre.

Circus: Among the famous circus artists are clowns Yuri Nikulin and Oleg Popov, illusionists Emil Kio and Igor Kio, and animal trainers Vladimir Durov and brothers Zapashnye.

Cinema: The first cinematic apparatus appeared in Russia in April 1896. Russia conducts dozens of film festivals, such as the Moscow International Film Festival.

Cartoons: The first Soviet cartoon dates to 1906. The Russian cartoon “Hedgehog in the Fog” was named the best animated film of all time in 2003 in Tokyo, in the survey of 140 critics and animators from different countries.

Music: Russian classical music is represented by Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky. The prominent Soviet composers include Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Khachaturian, and Schnittke. The USSR “pop” music was represented by Magomaev, Pugacheva, and Leontiev. The modern band that became popular abroad is “t.A.T.u.”

Architecture: The Russian architecture interacts with the architectures of other countries. It includes religious buildings, the Kremlins, and civil architecture.

Religion: Russia is a multi-confessional state, which is traditionally dominated by Orthodox Christianity. Others religions are: Paganism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism.

Russian cuisine: The cuisine is a blend of Slavic traditions, western and eastern cuisines, and the cuisines of all the nationalities living in Russia. Among the most famous dishes are: borscht, vinaigrette, pancakes, kvass, and fruit drinks.

Alcohol: In Russia, drinking alcohol started during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. Prior to that, the sale of alcohol was prohibited. By the level of alcohol consumption per capita, Russia is 18th in the world. The most popular beverages are vodka and beer.

We hope that our article has sparkled or intensified your desire to learn Russian. As we have already mentioned, it’s easy to learn Russian online, and one can even learn Russian online free. Learning the Russian language will immerse the student into the rich Russian culture.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Speedy and Efficient Way to Learn the Russian Language

If you plan to travel or work in Russia, then you really need to learn Russian. You can enroll in a class or you can also learn Russian online...

If you plan to travel or work in Russia, then you really need to learn Russian. You can enroll in a class or you can also learn Russian online. There are also so many free resources through which you can learn Russian online free. When you learn Russian, you will be able to communicate freely with more than 150 million people in the world who have Russian as their native tongue or as a second language. The world of opportunities that learning this exquisite language opens up to you are really tremendous. The people you can come in contact with, the amount of things that you can learn from Russia, and the work and business opportunities that can come your way makes this a tremendously beneficial endeavor.

You can start by learning how to pronounce the different consonants and the words of the language. Next would come the constructs and syntax of the language. The nouns, the pronouns and their genders are interesting aspects to learn in any language. As you begin to get familiar with words, you would then concentrate on the meaning of the words and how you can make small phrases and sentences using them.

While there are many traditional approaches to learning Russian, with the advent and growing use of the Internet, you can search for Russian lessons online. The amount of free material available on the Internet is truly amazing. Of course you need to weed out the bad from the good. But all you need to do is spend some time online and you can get a list of extremely useful resources that can help you learn Russian online. While there are also sites that offer lessons for a particular fee, you can also find a number of sites that offer Russian free lessons online. If you need to locate these courses on the Internet, you can visit Google or any other search engine and search for the terms “Learn Russian Language”. The search engine will normally spew out hundreds of links from which you can choose the best ones that suit your taste and aptitude.

Doing a course online has a number of benefits that you may be able to get when you attend a regular class. You can decide your own time when you can do your lessons. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects for people who are already studying or working and have very little time left for other pursuits. You can set aside a couple of minutes or hours when you can do your online lessons everyday or on particular days of the week. Another benefit of doing an online course is that you need not get out of your house. You can do your lessons from the comfort of your living room which is a great convenience especially for people who might need to stay at home for a variety of reasons. Especially for mothers with young children, the ability to stay at home and at the same time learning a new language is a great convenience. Even those who cannot move around without help and would find going out to a traditional classroom almost impossible can easily stay at home and learn a language from online lessons.

People sometimes live in remote locations where there are not many institutions where they can learn the Russian language. Their lack of proximity from an institute can prevent people from pursuing a course in Russian. For such people, Russian lessons online would come as a real lifesaver. Despite the remoteness of their location, they can still get the best of education by choosing Russian free lessons online.

Learning in all forms has to be integrated with fun. Without mixing fun with learning, any kind of academic pursuit would become dull and boring. So even in the case of learning Russian, if you can do it in a more entertaining manner, then you can easily master the language with a lot less effort. You can play games in Russian that help you get acquainted with many Russian words. You can listen to Russian programs on the radio or watch them on TV. You can get yourself exposed to the language through a number of means, which will help you to learn Russian that much faster.